Pride and Sustainability
(HUGE apologies, to J. Austen…and anyone else who’s written or read a book…ever)
Needless to say, it should come as no surprise to anyone that the intersection between the collective literary works of Jane Austen (or Charlotte Bronte, or Emily Bronte or…) and early-teen Canadian males is likely minimal. So it should equally come as no surprise that I can’t even remember which book we were studying when, many (many!) moons ago Mrs. Roth, my grade 11(ish) English teacher, said something to the effect of “If only…those can be the saddest two words in the world”. I can’t say what it was about those words – “if only” – that woke me from my early-teen daydream. I can’t even say anything about the dialogue that followed Mrs. Roth’s proclamation (and, needless to say, the following two weeks where the book was discussed have been utterly erased from my memory) but for some reason the words, and their implications have stuck with me.
Regrets…sure, we’ve all had a few. But not all regrets are created equal. I mean, sure I regret not stopping for a fish sandwich in Munich’s Viktualienmarkt a few moons ago, but considering that the day ended in a packed bierkeller with a group of Austrian border guards and a platter piled with wurst, perhaps that wasn’t a bad thing. And sure, for a while I regretted not being Harry Connick Junior (just as I’ve immediately regretted telling everybody this), but I got over it…especially since for the past couple of weeks Alfie Jurvanen’s video for Hockey Teeth kinda has me wishing I was him.
And then there are the deep down gnaw at the very essence of your being regrets that Mrs. Roth was talking about (I think). Like regretting that you didn’t recycle the empty cup from the free range beverage you enjoyed on your morning drive to work…which kinda got you regretting that you didn’t enjoy your free range beverage in a refillable travel mug on your drive to work…which sorta got you regretting that you didn’t enjoy your free range beverage in a refillable travel mug while taking public transit to work…which kinda sorta got you regretting not advocating more about the need for better public transit while enjoying your free range beverage in a refillable travel mug while taking public transit to work…which got you wondering if, not so many moons from now, as you surveyed our collective legacy, you’d find yourself regretting not recycling that cup from your free range beverage and whispering “if only…”. Those…those are the type of regrets I think most of us would like to avoid. (Turns to address camera, “Dramatic, I know, but right now I’m kinda regretting not having more time to watch House of Cards.”)
So do I remember that an underlying theme of Jane Eyre is the criticism of Victorian social class structure? Nope. And can I explain how Heathcliff’s appearance plays to the Wuthering Heights theme of “foreignness and the other”? Ha…I probably wouldn’t even know what that means without Google. But do I remember that the words “if only” have the potential to be the saddest words in the world? I do. Which means Mrs. Roth…you taught me well…
Happy New Year, UHN, Happy New Year.
We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it.
– Governor Jay Inslee (as told by B. Obama)