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But wait, there's more.
There's just no polite way to say "Buy me things", is there?
Need a band name?
rant is where the heart is
entry for 2001-11-22 (00:29:00)
In which our plucky young hero coughed black as a kid.
greylady wanted to know what was so wrong with slow island living. Well, I've always been led to believe that when the New York Times asks you a question, you answer it.
(I admit I may be a little unclear on some concepts here.)
There's hints at an answer in this story at the CBC, about the slow, clambering death of coal mining in Cape Breton finally getting down to the point where the corpse of the island economy stops twitching.
Coal has always been king on Cape Breton; the first commercial mining operations there were in 1720. The neighborhoods of my home town were named after the various mines and collieries. One of the main thoroughfares, Union Street, is named after the labor struggles that punctuate local history like gunshots. (In some cases, that metaphor is quite literal.) Down the road from us was the town of Reserve Mines.
In some ways, I was lucky to be born late enough to miss the coal boom. (This was in the late 60s and early 70s, when OPEC had the screws to the continent and suddenly even hard-to-mine expensive coal was still cheaper than foreign oil.) I was raised in a culture where the economy had always been dying. If I had been born a decade earlier it might have not seemed such an obvious thing that someday I would need to leave the island to find a job, and I would probably never return.
Coal dust does weird things to a person's lungs, and to the culture of the people as a whole. It was just considered right that the mines stay open, because what would happen if they were closed? And yet it was obvious that the mines would never be able to stay open forever, and the hammer would have to fall someday. This sort of culture leads to weird and wrong feelings. Feelings of entitlement, of wounded pride, of tough-minded defiance and an us-versus-them mentality. The world owes you a living, because nobody would be uncivil enough to just let you lose your job, right?
I'm still unlearning what that sort of culture taught me. It's a slow process. I may never overcome my origins; I may always be a lazy bastard who thinks the world owes him a living. (Of course, who is to say I wouldn't be a lazy bastard who thinks the world owes him a living if I'd been born and raised in Scarborough instead?) I don't scorn everything I learned while growing up; I did learn the value of friends, and the importance of humor. But those I could have gotten in Scarborough too.
And that's why slow island life is not for me. I just couldn't stand the gaff.(Browse: previous or next. Notes: post or read.)
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