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Simplistic As Pie

I read an article that said there was some discontent amidst contestants in the Miss Canada Universe Contest (really?) because one of the contestants is transgendered (male to female, if there was any doubt). The complaint seems to be that this contestant will receive an inordinate amount of publicity due to the fact that she is transgendered, thus overshadowing the other contestants.

Personally, I have no interest in this type of competition, but I have to say my gut reaction to this news was: then why make a fuss about it in the first place? Why not just get past the whole transgendered controversy (it's still controversial?) and just accept them as equal human beings, rather than treating them as freaks? Then there would be no unfair advantage.

I know it seems so ludicrously simple that I must have forgotten something. I did. People like to make life more complicated than it has to be. And that's the simplistic truth.

Living Your Dash

Watched an excellent documentary by Werner Herzog called "Into The Abyss", which is about a triple murder in Texas by two teenagers, one of whom was sentenced to life in prison while the other was executed. Herzog interviewed both young men (it was ten years after the crimes), their relatives, as well as relatives of the victims. But there was an obvious anti-death penalty bias to the film, which was apparent in an interview with a corrections officer who supervised executions and who suffered burnout from his job. He is quoted as saying: “Live your dash."

The dash he refers to is the one between the date of birth and the date of death on a headstone, meaning the life that is lived between those two dates. I was immediately struck by such a stark and evocative symbol. Aside from the double meaning of the word "dash", which also implies speed or how quickly life goes by, the symbol itself - has a distinctly enigmatic quality, like a blank space waiting to be filled. There is the suggestion of possibilities, of hopefulness. The corrections officer used the phrase to describe his reason for quitting his job, which was to escape the pressure of being surrounded by death every day and to embrace the simple beauty of life. But I also saw darker possibilities of that blank space, the dash, such as the devastating choices made by those young men who committed the crimes. So many lives dashed by senseless acts of violence.

But mostly, living your dash, for me, brings to mind the conflicting realities of life: how a lifetime can seem like a blink of an eye. Even as we slow down when we get older, the whole process of living seems to accelerate and the days and nights fly away like torn pages from a calendar in a bad film montage. Or to evoke another hackneyed image: the moment that starting pistol fires its blank cartridge into the air we are living our dash.