"Tiffany, it's Aunt Judy."
This is the start of the message I found on the studio's answering machine when I opened this morning. Perhaps a month ago the same lady left a similar message for Tiffany on our line, but this time she left callback numbers along with her message of love for her niece. There seemed genuine notes of concern and longing in her voice, so it may be a nice idea to phone and let her know she is using the wrong - or out of date - number to reach out to her family member.
There seems to be a heaviness about people this holiday season, a burden of tension that I've not noticed before. Conversation has often turned to health concerns - "How long have you been vegetarian?" "How often do you run?" "Do you smoke? Have you ever? I used to, but like Bill Clinton, never inhaled." These are the sorts of comments I'm hearing more regularly now. Inquiries that acknowledge that there is a shadow of doubt about choices both past and current.
Walking about Saint John sees many down-turned eyes, people with thoughts elsewhere. Just entering Brunswick Square, doors don't get held, smokers are gathered around every exit (can anyone share what the smoking legislation is here in Saint John?) and many are on edge. Just try using a crosswalk without experiencing the death-stare of a pissed-off taxi driver or walk the uptown sidewalks without having to surrender your space to someone unwilling to share the concrete.
Anxiety without a positive action begets anger. I am going to keep trying to invoke a force of positivity in my environment, however insignificant it may seem and I encourage others to do the same. It's not easy, especially when holding your breath to avoid noxious fumes as you pass that "no smoking" sign. Cigarette smoke is dangerous - read the packages - but inhaling negativity affects so much more.