Life is bigger

the view from my keyboard

Life is unsteady. It doesn’t hold still.

That’s why I get up early and hold to a practice.

I will have to find a way to do this no matter what comes, no matter how busy and disrupted my days. I need to run. Or swing weights. Or cycle. Or push myself physically in some way. My joy and my productivity is directly connected to my body. I can’t think myself content, but I sure as hell can feel it.

My thought today as I ran on the indoor track was that I was running myself into submission. But wait, I thought, I’m running myself free, not into submission. Because even on the indoor track, I could feel wind in my hair, and my heart beating, and my breath coming deep and fast and sure. And then I realized that it was my mind that needed to submit to my body, so that my body could experience freedom. The further I run, the faster I run. This is probably backward to most people’s experience of running (or maybe it’s not!?). I think it’s because it takes time for my mind to empty and hush and stop doubting or worrying. And then comes focus and clarity of effort.


Do you remember the REM song, “Losing My Religion”? A tiny snippet from that song is stuck in my head.

“Life is bigger …”

I keep hearing it. I pay attention when a song lyric is stuck in my head, because it often tells me where I’m at. (Except for when it’s telling me that in spin class this morning the instructor played “Hangover” by Taio Cruz and, no, I don’t have a hangover, and if I did, I wouldn’t have been in spin class, Taio!)

Life is bigger. It fits where I’m at. It means, for me, this constant effort to make space for more. More emotion, more spirit, more connections, more newness, while also opening myself and my imagination to the possibilities of what I can learn and make and do. It can feel disorienting to ask others to give you the chance to try the things you want to try, and to step toward the things you want to do, but aren’t yet expert in. It’s like being asked to play a new position on the soccer field. It’s like learning how to swim as an adult. If you believe you can, you will trust your ability to build on everything you’ve experienced that’s brought you to this point, and you will simply and willingly do your best.

You won’t be the best goalie. And you won’t be the best swimmer. At least not immediately. But you’ll be on the field, or in the water, and that is the only way to learn.

Life is bigger.


Finally, this. I’m an inveterate writer of letters (not unlike Juliet, who writes to Ronald Reagan in one of my favourite stories in The Juliet Stories). Here is the letter I felt inspired to write and send today, to the editors of The Globe and Mail newspaper, who somehow managed not to highlight on the front page the most inspiring news story I’ve heard in a long time (note: they did print a story and photo several pages into the front page section.)

To the editors,

The Globe and Mail newspaper’s front page editors would like to show me that Tiger Woods, who cheated famously and serially on his former wife, and who is not a Canadian citizen at least to my knowledge, is back on top again. Oh, and that the Prime Minister of Canada met with what looks like a Fed Ex-ed panda yesterday.
Meanwhile, a group of young people from Northern Quebec completed an epic 1,500 km walk during which they hiked and snowshoed and camped through weather more extreme than most Canadians have ever experienced, ending their journey yesterday in Ottawa, at Parliament Hill, in hopes that their efforts might bring attention to the needs of their communities.
But, you know, I can totally see how Tiger Woods and pandas would make a better illustration to sum up yesterday’s news. Especially when Canadians are so bombarded with positive images and stories of native youth. And besides, such a photo on the front page of a national newspaper might remind us of our collective agreements and responsibilities toward all the people who live in Canada, including those who were here first, and put us off at breakfast, and make us feel guilty. And that would be sad for Globe and Mail readers.
Or maybe we would have felt inspired, who knows. Maybe you should try a whole lot harder, dig a whole lot deeper, and show us what really matters to Canadians.
Yours, Carrie Snyder
Waterloo, ON
Messy weekend report
A few awesome things


  1. I’m curious why you chose to write in that tone — genuinely curious.

    • Hm. It was the tone that wanted to come out. I felt outraged, but wanted to lighten my outrage with humour. Maybe it came from recently reading Tom King’s The Inconvenient Indian, which has a tone I can’t hope to mimic, but gently and with great wry humour pokes holes into assumptions and beliefs.
      But my attempt is perhaps much less effective, as I assume your comment suggests.
      It’s an excellent, excellent book, by the way, and should be read by every Canadian.

  2. Excellent Carrie. I heartily agree! and with the sarcasm too.

  3. Totally. Good on you.

  4. Interesting. Did you see the front page of the same paper today? At the bottom is a story about art made by residential school students while they were at a school on Vancouver Island. Of course, there are many reasons why a story gets on the front page. What sells is a big one, unfortunately, but it is the sad truth. For instance, I’m no fan of Toronto’s mayor (huge understatement!!), but I’m watching what the Toronto Star is doing closely. Stories that skewer a person’s character based on unnamed sources make me uneasy. I’m glad you pointed this omission out though. We need our news media to be accountable, because like it or not we require good reporting to help make us as a nation accountable. So good you wrote to them!

    • Thanks for your comment, Kathleen.

      Yes, I did see the story about residential school art today.

      I also saw that The Globe, in fact, did choose to publish my letter from yesterday, somewhat edited for size and tone. I’m glad it got through. (And I noticed that the other letter objecting to Tiger Woods on the front was upset the pandas hadn’t got top billing …)

  5. The tone of your letter was appropriate given the significance of their omission (maybe their commission?). Your tone didn’t exaggerate, and it wasn’t disrespectful. The sarcasm was controlled, and it didn’t stand in for the substance of the letter, which was intelligent and present from start to finish. Your tone registered as real frustration, which, again, was appropriate. When mishandled or overused, sarcasm undermines communication. But I think your letter hit the mark squarely.

    • Thank you, Karl K. That’s high praise coming from someone as skilled at the darker humours as you are.

  6. Wonderful letter! I’m glad to hear it got published. I agree wholeheartedly with you.


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