Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tales of the Better Way pt II

I take the infamous "vomit comet", the 97 Yonge bus, south when most of the dregs are taking it north to end their night of debauchery. The ride from Sheppard to Bloor is surprisingly quick at 6:30 in the morning. This one lady was taking up two seats on the crowded bus. She had a dumb countenance to her and sat slovenly, with one leg draped over the adjacent seat. The other patrons avoided looking at her and she had a self-satisfied expression on her face most of the ride, as if she was daring them to say something. And I thought to myself: how proud ought she be that other people find her so repugnant that they would rather stand on a crowded bus at 6 am than sit next to her? Go on, give yourself a pat on the back. People find you so objectionable that you get two seats all to yourself.


The cumulative effects of the civic workers strike was becoming more apparent. The streets were becoming ever more filled with filth and though Toronto can seldom ever be considered clean, seeing it in this state opens one's mind to the possibility of how much worse it can still get. I walked quickly to get off Yonge Street when I saw a vagrant sitting in front of the Reference Library. I did a double take -- the man looked exactly like Nobel laureate Paul Krugman. He could have been his doppelganger, it was uncanny.


Which reminded me of some thoughts that I had yesterday morning on my way to work. Here I am at a bus stop on the literal edge of Toronto. It's 5:15 am. I'm alone and it is quiet. The only evidence of life is the slightly discernable movements of the gas station attendent in the store across the street. There are no cars. The sun hasn't risen yet. The day is new and I'm going to watch the front desk and security of an old folks home some 30 kilometres away in Downtown Toronto. And I couldn't help but wonder where I'd be right now if things had gone a little differently.

If I'd had been absolutely committed and obsessed with being a doctor...Would I be awake, sitting in the very same spot, on my way to the hospital where I was starting my rounds at 7:00 am? About to check the overnights to see if there were any developments among the patients on my ward then go to the morning staff meeting? Would I have a really fast and expensive car? Would I still be living at home? Maybe I'd be living downtown, to be closer to the hospital. Would I even be in Toronto?

What else would my doppelganger have in his life? Would he have a girlfriend? A wife? Would graduating from a medical college have given him stones to go up to any woman he pleased? I'm 28, would he already have a kid? Between his newborn and residency would he be living on 5 hours of sleep a night?

Obviously though, while the details would be different the most important questions are those of quality of life. I'd be richer and more professionally secure, but would I be happier than I am now? More self-assured and confident? Would I be in better or worse physical shape? Would I spend more or less time with friends? Would I be as reflective and curious as I am now? Would I have as much (or any) time to write? Would I be lamenting the crushing burden of my professional and personal responsibilities? Would it have all been worth it?

It's early and it's quiet. Other people are still sleeping. They would be loathe to be awake at this hour but I find that mornings are growing on me. In all fairness, 'when' has never really mattered to me. I'm more of a 'how' kinda guy. I find that the journey is what makes the destination worth visiting.


Blogger Sheba Devonish said...

I love this post, honey. You are amazing!

9:57 pm  

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