We can’t cling to the past

I’m reading a book about meditating for beginners. It’s an easy read, not causing me a brain cramp trying to decipher the language.
The first point the book makes is how we must live with the understanding that everything is constantly changing. The continents are drifting, the winds are shifting, the temperature is rising and falling, yet we somehow want our lives to remain constant—the happy experience, the feeling of being loved, a moment of understanding.
Accepting that all is changing allows us peace. Apparently.
This is where I struggle because I am a clinger-to-the-past kind of person. And that clinging wants me to find Fort Frances exactly as I left it. An inclination that is foolhardy.
I read the Globe & Mail article about Fort Frances and the sad state of the town after the closure of the paper mill. And though I’ve known for some time that the situation has been dire, I was saddened to read the reality that faces Fort Frances residents.
I feel somewhat uncomfortable even writing about it because what do I know of the daily struggles, what do I know of the anxiety felt by business owners, and what do I know of any future options.
If life is continually changing and reshaping, how then do Fort Frances residents cling to hope? How do they adjust and what is their next step?
I know other communities have faced similar downturns—demise, if we speak bluntly. Such an economy has been the norm for Atlantic Canada, communities trying to create opportunities to keep their young people engaged, to stop the hemorrhage of residents seeking employment in the west.
I witness almost every day, here in Nova Scotia, people striving to create something in their own backyards; something meaningful that contributes to the vibrant well-being of the community.
Though this is never easy, the effort is admirable and encouraging. Undoubtedly, this has gone on in Fort Frances for many years.
I love my beloved Fort Frances. I am so glad that I grew up on a farm just outside her limits; that I had the great opportunity of attending Fort Frances High School and being one of the mighty Muskies.
Is that all just sentimental mush? I don’t think so. I know that living in the north breeds into us a hearty sense of survival.
A dear friend of mine who moved away from Fort Frances 40 years ago after high school expressed my own sentiment in his words that “Fort Frances is still my home, my roots, the foundation of everything that is.”
Christmas is the season of hope and I know there are days when hope seems elusive, certainly outside our reach.
Christmas can be a painful time for many of us who live with financial insecurity, who have suffered loss and disappointment. Those who are alone and the image of a table surrounded by family and friends is too far from their reality.
So expecting hopefulness to descend upon all our hearts is a tall order.
Just this once, as I learn to meditate and let go of the past and live in the moment, I will celebrate all that Fort Frances was. And I will look forward to what she will become and I will cheer on those who strive to re-create her magic.
It can be done. I just know it.
wendistewart@live.ca

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