Monday, July 01, 2013

Various Mysteries

Before I go any further - assuming that I do think of something to write that will be worth reading - let me say, in print, to all and sundry:

           HAPPY CANADA DAY!!

(In French, btw, Canada Day is Fête du Canada.)

Originally, Canada Day was called "Dominion Day" - in French, Le Jour de la Confédération - Canada at the time being a dominion within the British Commonwealth.  The day, and the national holiday, was renamed in 1982, the year the Canada Act was passed.

National Holidays, and the reasons therefor, can be complicated.  The date July 1st is Canada Day because it was on that date in 1867 that the British North American Colonies of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick joined with the "Province of Canada", in effect Ontario and Quebec, to create the federation. And so Canada was born, or created, or cobbled together. No "rocket's red glare", or prolonged violence, or the gore of revolution. Negotiation was, and is, the Canadian way.

A lot has happened since 1867, though. The four Western provinces, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, and one Eastern  province, Prince Edward Island, joined later on. And last of all, in 1949, Newfoundland (now named Newfoundland and Labrador), where I was born, came on board, so to speak, to round out the number at an even ten. In addition to the ten provinces, there are three large northern territories in the Canadian Federation: Yukon, Nunavut and Northwest Territories. We are a large country, the second-largest by area in the world. Russia, in case you were wondering, is the largest. China and the United States are third and fourth in area, with Brazil and Australia trailing behind. Well, that's what Wikipedia tells me, so it must be true.

It's a complicated business, this nation-building process. And the process may not be over yet. In 1995, in the second referendum of its kind, the Province of Quebec came very close to declaring independence from the rest of Canada; a quasi-entity often referred to up here as the "ROC". But we are still together as a country, nonetheless. Just how that continues to be is one of the "mysteries" alluded to in the title of this post. With an independence-minded government now in power in Quebec, it's perhaps a little early to declare "that's all she wrote". Stay tuned. We continue to live in somewhat volatile times up here in The Great White - although currently mostly Green - North.

And now for another "mystery".

This morning, to sort of celebrate our National Day, I was out early playing golf. Well, the fact is I am not really much of a golfer, although I do try. My ambitions are modest; the course I play on is a par-3 affair, where even par is 54, as opposed to the standard 70-72. The shortest hole is about 70 yards, the longest 203. It should be easy. It isn't. Not for me. The mystery of it all - and it is something of a mystery - is why I continue to try, why this compulsion to set my alarm, twice each week, to yank me from my bed at 5:45, to infuse my aging self with strong coffee, and head off to the course to do battle with mosquitoes and wet turf - it has been raining every other day here in Ottawa this so-called spring - and try and whack little white balls onto small greens where lie tiny holes, within the regulation 3 strokes. But every now and then it works; this morning, 4 times out of 18. (On other days it has been much better than that, I hasten to add.)

Every so often, when hope seems to have got lost in the underbrush among the massed mosquitoes and tangled, ankle-slicing brambles, the little white ball soars through the air and magically - dare I say "mysteriously"? - lands on the tiny green. Then, two putts and it's down. That blessed par, the comforting rattle of white ball in the plastic cup. It doesn't happen often, but when it does - well, that's the magic of it, the mystery, if you will, that keeps me coming back for more. I think it's called hope. Hope is important. It's part of the human condition.

And, that's all he wrote on this Canada Day.

Cheers, all!!

1 comment:

Kristina Curren said...

You might call it hope. Another might call it intermittent reinforcement:

(From Wikipedia) "Pigeons experimented on in a scientific study were more responsive to intermittent reinforcements, than positive reinforcements. In other words, pigeons were more prone to act when they only sometimes could get what they wanted. This effect was such that behavioral responses were maximized when the reward rate was at 50% (in other words, when the uncertainty was maximized), and would gradually decline toward values on either side of 50%. R.B Sparkman, a journalist specialized on what motivates human behavior, claims this is also true for humans, and may in part explain human tendencies such as gambling addiction."