Tuesday, January 13, 2009

In passing

The front page of the Monday newspaper carried a story about four men whose boat overturned at sea. Two had been found and the Coast Guard were looking for the other two. Those of us who are familiar with the sea around this island know that the possibility of finding anyone alive after more than twelve hours is small to none.
I first met Floyd Lucas when we were both twentysome year olds with a passion for the environment. At the time, Floyd was the president of UWI Biological Society and I was the secretary of some or other environmental group. Nicole Leotaud, another environmental activist introduced us; there were a bunch of us who were known to picket, write letters/petitions and if necessary, chain ourselves to trees or lie down in front of bulldozers, we all knew each other with varying degrees of familiarity. I wouldn’t say Floyd and I were friends; we were colleagues, activists and acquaintances.
In the ensuing almost twenty years since then, I’d run across Floyd from time to time, still working for the environment so it was no surprise to learn that he’d been out on a job. I am extremely saddened by his demise, we learnt yesterday evening that his body had been found, and my condolences go out to Carol, his wife. The environmental movement has lost another champion and we are all the poorer for it. Floyd’s death has become yet another salutary reminder to live with passion, doing the things you love, being true to yourself and most of all, making the most of the time we are given here on earth. Godspeed Floyd.
I’d found the Monday paper in my usual stop at the St. James Rituals. I like the girls there, they know me, we talk about their lives, kids and how they are being affected by the changes going on in the world. On many days they are a gentle start to my mornings which can often turn into chaos. One of the regulars, an old retired gentleman walked in and while he and I exchanged our usual banter, Adanna, the master barrista waited patiently with his order. He, like me, has the same thing every day unless she persuades us otherwise. Turns out that he’d been in on Saturday morning, stayed awhile and after he left, the ‘customer’ who’d been sitting at a table near the counter, turned into a bandit and held them up.
The robber got the day’s take and her mobile phone, something she could ill afford to lose. My heart wept for those two young women, going about their business trying to make a living to take care of their children. The fear and shock must have been high but there they were, back at work on Monday. The sparkle had gone out of their eyes but they still managed to greet us, their customers. In that moment, I despised even more what we have become; the robbery took place on a busy main road at 9:00 am.
In the last year, several of my occasional breakfast stops have either closed down or stopped offering the service because of economics. I miss the ladies at Sweetness who provided homespun wisdom with the bakes and buljol. Last night, at a small birthday lime for my best friend’s brother, we were all talking about how we have been affected by the world economic downturn. We all knew that this was probably going to be one of the last of these types of limes we are going to have this year. One of our number manages a bank, in the past couple of months he’s seen his benefits cut, his blackberry returned etc. Slowly we have all downscaled, even those of us who were not particularly extravagant to being with. I cannot foretell the future, all I can do is live in today, but I know, it is to live without expectation, take it as it comes.

1 comment:

Gabriela said...

Take it as it comes... that sounds much esasier than it really is.