On a sunny morning way back on May 24th of this year I woke up to the news that Gord Downie the front man for the iconic Canadian rock band the Tragically Hip had terminal brain cancer. I was dumbstruck, don’t get me wrong I am not a die hard Hip fan – or at least I don’t consider myself one. I have their music on my iPhone, and have been known to turn the volume way up whenever one of their songs comes on the radio (much to my children’s embarrassment). Until this moment I had not realized the role their music has played in my life, — and I am sure many will agree that the Tragically Hip’s music IS the soundtrack for Canadian cottage life. In spite of everything, Downie, his family and his bandmates where dealing with the band was going to “dig deep” for an epic summer tour culminating in the bands home town of Kingston where it all began 30 years ago. So on Saturday night at 8:30, 11 million Canadians– myself included turned on CBC television to watch what was most likely the band’s final performance. Canada was one last night with Hip for the duration of 30 songs and 3 encores, they performed all their classics, like Bobcaygeon, Wheat Kings and the Bill Barilko song Fifty Mission Cap and we sang along to them, each of us remembering them in the context of our lives.
The concert had many poignant moments, but my goal here is not to replay and critique the concert, but rather to serve as a reminder that our days on this earth our finite, and we owe it to ourselves to consciously set out to live our best life. When the group was asked why tour now they replied “What we in The Hip receive, each time we play together, is a connection; with each other; with music and it’s magic; and during the shows, a special connection with all of you, our incredible fans.” I imagine that Downie, his family and the group have stockpiled the feelings and memories of this farewell tour, and will draw upon this positive energy in the darker days to come. This circles back to the importance of mindfulness and trying to live our best life. Since no one can predict the future it is critical to enjoy the happier moments in our life and use them to fortify oneself in the more trying and difficult ones. We have included a few strategies on how to begin living a mindful and present life.
- Stop to Smell the Roses – As cliché as this sounds it makes for very wise advice. Our lives are fast paced and hectic and the first rule of mindfulness is to stop, breathe, think and then act. If you practise this you begin to realize that you are responding to life rather than reacting,
- Choose to be mindful- Stop letting your mind wander away from the present moment! While this sounds easy, such is not the case our lives are lived in quick sound bytes, and we as a society in general suffer from short attention spans. Stop and ask yourself these questions “What is going on around me?” “Is it good?”, “Is it bad?” and “How do I feel right now in this moment?”. For those in recovery this would be a good time to remember that if this is a bad moment it will pass, and there is no need to seek a means to escape from it.
- Enjoy and Preserve – Enjoy the moment you are in fully, archive the feelings and emotions you are experiencing. Whenever the time comes (and it will) when the moment is no longer happy or pleasurable you remember how feel in better times and remind yourself that you will soon experience such times again.
Remember when you are fully present and in the moment you will begin to respond to your life rather than react, and Saturday night it was evident Downie was responding to the love and adulations of millions of Canadians.
We at the Oasis Movement want to extend all of our positive energy and support to Gord Downie, his family and the group. Thanks for the memories!