Today has not been the best of days. Over the past three days I have been trying to work with Canada Post and TD Bank to restore my ability to receive and pay bills through my online bank service. So far, no luck on that front. However, I can access my Canada Post account directly to view the bills that are not viewable from my bank’s interface. So I resolved today to start with paying Toronto Hydro in time to avoid a service disconnect.
I went to the bank to deposit my disability benefit cheque and withdraw the cash needed to pay Toronto Hydro. From there I made my way via the ever-present TTC to 14 Carlton Street, a location at which I had paid bills in years gone by. That service is no longer available there. A concierge directed me to a phone which auto-dialled their billing department. I was informed that Toronto Hydro no longer accepts cash payments, and directed to the nearest Western Union office (in Money Mart) to make my payment. For the privilege of handing over the cash I had obtained for the purpose of paying the bill, I was charged an additional $15. I phoned Toronto Hydro to notify them of the payment and took the opportunity to explain the on-line snafu that had resulted in my late payment.
From there I wandered down to the World’s Biggest Bookstore to pick up the third installment of Jack Whyte’s Templar series. Unfortunately, it won’t be available until sometime in August. So I backtracked a few yards to BMV where I picked up a book and a movie for under $20.
That’s when the odyssey became interesting. My next destination was the Shoppers Drug Mart on Queen’s Quay to pick up my meds for the month. I decided to walk as far as I could handle. As I headed to Bay Street to begin my trek, I became inundated with an unwanted internal cacophony. I evaluated the day I had been having, with particular emphasis on the things I had done wrong and learned I had done wrong in the recent past. I was not happy with myself. I sunk into self-recrimination and concluded I had lost myself. I no longer knew who I was or even who I was supposed to be.
The internal darkness contrasted with the bright light of a steaming hot summer day in the city. As I continued south on Bay Street, I soon encountered the Jazz Festival at City Hall. Which is where the sidewalk on the west side of Bay Street ends. I had forgotten about that. I followed my nose through the Festival booths and stage setup until I found an exit to Queen Street. Throughout it all, the inner darkness and turmoil was warring with the outer light and chaos. By now I had determined that in losing my sense of self I was free to redefine myself.
That prospect still seems daunting and unachievable to me. It took me fifty years to become the man who died last October. I don’t know where to start. It was a semi-random process the first time, influenced by parents and family and friends and enemies and strangers. I can see the theoretical and semantic validity of where my thoughts led me, but I have no idea how to put the theory into practice. And I am a firm believer that dreams without flesh die stillborn. At least now I know one thing about who I am Thank you world, for that small gift.
I continued south through the chaos of a long weekend in the making, passing through a gauntlet of panhandlers, Muslim proselytizers and a busking bagpiper. How does anyone ever think clearly in the kaleidoscopic city? I arrived at the underground streetcar stop where I let 3 overflowing cars go by before stepping aboard the fourth and hanging on until arriving at my stop. The chaos and drama of the day continued there, but I am done for now.
I leave you with one last question: How do we know who we are? A year ago I would have considered that a nonsensical question, but that was when I knew who I was.