The Danforth

After attempting to meet friends at Danforth Bowl, none of whom I could find, I find, I found myself at Danforth and Coxwall in East Toronto with nothing to do but take the Subway back to the Annex. Well, “rats to that”, I thought – and instead I decided to walk the 8km back to my house on Brunswick.

It was enjoyable – I got some exercise, got a good luck at Greektown, and had plenty of time to think about philosophy. Interesting, in Greektown all the Christmas lights, and plenty of Christmas decorations are still up. Which is nice; it gives the winter a festive feel.

The bridge over the Don Valley is quite something to walk across. Just before you step onto the bridge, you see is a large sign: “We listen to you anytime” and a phone number, next to a phone booth. It’s a suicide prevention measure, along with a massive suicide-prevention fence on either side of the bridge. Walking along, thinking about that phone, thinking about the person on the other end of it, and thinking about the amount of money that was spent on the suicide-prevention fence, it really forces one to reflect on how exclusionary our society is – how easy it is for people to become depressed and isolated. And how difficult it can be for people to reach out, and for those reached out to to be able to cope with people who need help. Moreover, the existence of those who can’t deal with the suffering in our society, in whatever way it affects, them, immediately points to why do we do so little to combat the conditions under which suffering thrives? How unequal will we let our culture get, before even the rich don’t want to live in it? And what would it take for care to become a value on the level of values like “profit”, “world class”, “culture” and “efficiency”? Of course, this is a wrong question, there is no “how bad must it get” other than in Bob Dylan songs. In reality, how bad it is, is entirely contextual and dependant on the values of the person looking.

3 thoughts on “The Danforth

  1. Tristan, I found your entry quite compelling. I too have enjoyed the unplanned walks through neighbourhoods. Walking through neighbourhoods provides a very human perspective.

    I also found the part about the isolation in our society interesting and hitting home. I also see that. I see it on the bus and plane when people are hesitant to talk to the person next to them. People are plugged into their music or computers. I have found myself also slipping into this situation.

    I remember reading your accounts of the train trip across Canada. It seemed like you used that occasion to talk with strangers.

    So I am off to get my haircut, buy a book for my book club and then hike up Grouse Mountain. Your blog will inspire me to talk with the barber, consider engaging in a conversation along the way and talking to friends and family , albeit by phone as I walk up the mountain.

  2. I did take a new attitude to having a haircut- traditionally a silent event for me. I asked the barber questions and consequently learned more about the haircut. In particular she taught me not just to asked for the number 2 shears also the layering of number 1 and number 3.It was a more interesting experience. I also perhaps got a better haircut.

    The walk up the mountain was basically taken up with two conversations – first with Milan while he was skating on the Rideau Canal and the second -quite a long and good conversation with my father.

    Thanks Tristan for inspiring me to become more engaged and in particular to listen to the stories of others more.

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