Yesterday I went on one of my favourite walks – to White Squirrel café on Queen West, which has the best coffee. I got a coffee with lots of milk and an almond biscotti, grateful for the friendly and mundane conversation with the barista about the weather, getting my mind off the state of the world. I mentioned to him that since I’d been back in the area, I still hadn’t spotted the infamous white squirrel at Trinity Bellwoods Park. My last sighting was in 2016, when I had just started working at CAMH and stopped at the park with a new friend I’d made at work.
He told me to head towards the community centre, near the greenhouse, which I did but didn’t see any. The rumour is that there are a few in the park – in my mind, the one that I saw is still roaming around, but squirrels only live for a few years, so chances are that one is now at one with the earth it so adores. The odds of a grey squirrel giving birth to an albino squirrel are 1 in 100,000 so now I’m feeling pretty lucky to have seen one!
My niece is obsessed with squirrels, which she calls “shockos” – I hope she never says it correctly because it’s just too cute!! I facetimed her once when I was at the park to show them to her, and I realized that the shockos in Toronto are in fact psychos. Instead of normal dignified squirrels that run away when you approach them, these ones come closer to you, baring their teeth and demanding food (this is because of the actual human psychos that feed them). Ummm that reminds me that I once fed a squirrel.
Oh I miss those days where I wandered around aimlessly, seeking adventure and talking to random people, with no agenda or schedule. I met a man at the park that day back in 2015 that fed the squirrels and nurtured them back to life after their habitat was destroyed from the Occupy Toronto protests against economic equality and corporate greed.
If only those protests had a worldwide impact, perhaps reigning in one man’s insanity, insatiable greed, and quest for domination. What a sad and frightening time for humanity. I wrote this poem the other day, after my friend Saira encouraged me to give expression to my feelings:
Whatever your thoughts of the oppressor,
do not let the angry flame of hate
consume your heart.
It is not one that illuminates darkness,
but one that burns away what remains of goodness.
Do not resonate with the worst part of them,
when what we need now is the best part of you.
Stay true to the path of peace –
If you cannot find it in your external reality,
it is an opportunity to create it within your internal reality.
Find alignment with your breath,
and bring awareness to that part of yourself
– your soul,
that is at peace
no matter the chaos around you.
My teacher Raj Balkaran, who I’m currently taking an amazing course with (Goddess Stories: Telling Tales of the Sacred Feminine) has been a source of inspiration and grounding. In our class the other day, he said that he doesn’t focus on the world – which is out of his control – but on his own personal dharma (or ‘calling’), because there’s only ‘one of me to go around.’ He warned that watching the news for an hour will require 2 hours of chanting just to get back to ground zero. It’s so true.
This weekend for Shivratri, I took the Grace of Yoga course with Sadhguru – it was spectacular to see him live within the shrine of Shiva (the dhyanalinga) in Tamil Nadu. He taught us how to reconnect with the five elements – earth, water, fire, space, and air, to remain grounded, alive, and in best of health. It was recommended to walk barefoot each day, connecting feet to earth – unfortunately not possible in downtown Toronto where people often don’t pick up after their dogs – so off I go, with my boots and purse, and hopefully soon a little bit of sunscreen, to catch a glimpse of the elusive white squirrel.