When the planets of Weather, Health, and Inclination are somewhat aligned, my husband and I will go for daily walks around the neighbourhood, usually heading toward, and up and over, an old city dump that has been converted into a hill and green space.
The official site name is Westview Park, but many in the city refer to it as Garbage Hill.
My husband and I have always referred to it as Mt. Crumpet... an affectionate and personally amusing ode to my favourite childhood
movie, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. The Grinch's home at the top of Mt. Crumpet was also the garbage dump for the city of Whoville down below.
The hill and park are not exactly your typical park paradise.
are only a few trees. In small areas where the grasses have worn away, bits of old glass continue to slowly rise to the surface, like the rocks in a farmer's field. Additional bits get tossed above ground by a community of industrious prairie dogs (a type
of gopher) who are continually digging out their underground network of burrows and tunnels.
The park is also situated in an industrial part of the city. On one side is a small rail yard, and on the other side are a couple of manufacturing
plants whose chimneys occasionally share an unpleasant odour.
However, within a very flat prairie city, it's very much appreciated to have nearby access to a little elevation, offering us an extra workout for our heart and muscles, an
opportunity to breathe in the usually fresh and windy air at the top of the hill, and to soak in city views and sunsets that are often quite spectacular.
One recent day, during our city's Covid-19 lockdown, which still allows access to
city parks, we got near the top of the hill when something unusual came into view.
First of all, I should explain that there have never been any facilities at this park other than a short paved road up to the top of the hill, a few parking
spaces, a few stone benches to sit on, and a few garbage bins emptied out regularly of their fill of coffee cups and doggy bags.
On this day however, there appeared two portable toilets.
We stopped... stared... puzzled
and pondered... took a picture... pondered again... then continued on our way.
Besides being a never seen addition to the park's facilities, and being an unusual time of the year for them to be installed (with cold weather and limited
visitors), and being even more unexpected during the inevitable chaos and rush of a city lockdown, they magically appeared nonetheless.
I noticed that the portable toilets had insulation. I'd never seen that before. These two appeared
to be leaning into each other, huddled, and bravely facing the wind and biting cold, with little custom-fitted, silver, puffy jackets that were obviously designed to be removable in warmer weather.
The site and circumstance offered me
a little internal chuckle... "Of course they need insulation for our winter temperatures!", which even now in the latter half of March were still going as low as -20C without the windchill.
The next day when we walked back up the hill,
there was another surprise.
The portable toilets were now gone.
The invisible and magical elves that had installed them, had then just as stealthily taken them away the next day. Or even more intriguingly, perhaps
they were stolen... a convenient crime of opportunity in the midst of crisis? I wonder. Hmmmmm...
My ponderances since then have given me no factual reasons for their appearance and disappearance. And in lieu of embarking on any official
enquiry, I left it all up to my unlimited human imagination... just as all of us continually do for pretty well most everything in life.
We come up with stories to help make sense of life. It gives us a sense of control in a world that
is inherently uncontrollable. It gives us a known for the unsettling unknown. It gives us a feeling of security in the midst of feeling insecure.
Unfortunately, our believed stories also tend to create, extend, and magnify a lot of our
own internal suffering... our stories often give us specific enemies that we now need to fight against or change or control. We then rally support from others to further confirm how we are right and our confirmed enemies are wrong. And as long as our perceived
enemies exist, we need them to be vanquished before we can feel better.
What's interesting is that we can barely change or control ourselves, so what is the likelihood we can cause that to happen for others or for any of life's complex
circumstances? It's also interesting to note that without the stories, we have no enemies to fight.
So.... back to the mysterious appearing and disappearing portable toilets.
The best idea I came up with for the "why"
of this odd event, was something that occurred to me because of my work with the homeless...
Perhaps the city disaster planners were requesting portable toilets to be placed around the city for those needing them, now that many restaurants,
businesses, and other public facilities were being closed. Perhaps in the initial rush and chaos, the city workers were instructed to start adding them to various parks frequented by some of the homeless. Perhaps then, once the city drafted a more cogent plan,
some of the portable facilities then had to get moved again.
I'm amusedly imagining that the city workers responsible for installing and uninstalling, likely created a story about their "genius" management enemies, who typically came up
with plans, and then immediately changed them.
And that's my story for now, and I'm sticking to it.
The interesting thing about this event, is what I eluded to earlier. In the absence of some or all facts, and even
with the presence of all apparent known facts, we still make stuff up and identify enemies.
But what we make up can NEVER be based on any pure truth.
It is always based on all the incredibly complex and mostly unconscious
personal filters of our past experiences, knowledge, memories, assumptions, biases, culture, history, heritage, beliefs, identity, fears, perspectives, preferences, views, habits, state of mind, imagination, personal creativity, and a generous soupçon
of the creative potential of the universe thrown in for good measure.
We think we know what, who, and why. We think we know the absolute truth. But all of our determined "whys" are always, at some level, and often at a significantly extensive
level, made up.
But I wonder...
What if we could consider that we don't truly know what's going on, we don't truly know why, we don't truly know what is fair or unfair, and we don't even truly know what (or who) is
right or wrong?
And although the idea of "not knowing" may seem somewhat ridiculous, or illogical, or unsettling... it may be worth reflecting on.
There is a great deal of peace and wisdom and in-the-moment common
sense to be found whenever we discover we can't really know any whole or definitive truth about any of the incredibly complex circumstances of life. In that awareness of "not knowing", we don't have to identify any specific enemy, and we become free to live
in more acceptance, understanding, and wonder for the unknown.
With nothing truly known, there is nothing to hold onto, or fight against, or defend, or justify, or reason, or figure out. We get to just watch what appears in each moment,
respond to it as we can, and do it all with much less stress and effort and resistance.
And just like those portable toilets that were magically there and then gone again, we may notice that our stress-inducing-enemy-identifying thoughts
will, if we let them, simply appear and disappear. And perhaps any time they do appear, we might remember how RARELY we need to know "why", in order to be able to do whatever our common sense tells us to do next, including the choice to just continue on our
PS... I can't believe it didn't occur to me to open the door and get a photo of the toilet paper!