Monday, 17 September 2012

The Death of Magic in the City of Toronto

I thought my first post would be different, but life can lead you in unexpected ways.

I live in the city of Toronto with my fabulous dog Mojo.  He's just over ten years old and in his lifetime I have explored many parks with him.  There is this one park that I absolutely love.  It's the place where I would go to rejuvenate and remember the beauty on this planet.  This park moved me in ways that I can barely begin to express.  

Flying overhead there would be a family of five hawks and if I would look along the river I might catch a glimpse of a heron letting its wing tips graze the water.  The white-tailed deer would race graciously when they would catch Mojo's scent. (He never chased them, I asked him once not to and he respected my request). Once I even saw a beaver, not to mention the numerous amount of rabbits and birds that were everywhere. I would walk along the paths that had been carved by the select few that would walk there and I would feel at one with the world.  It was filled with magic.

The place made my heart sing.  Nowhere else in this city did I feel so free, so alive and here I could recognize the potential of possibilities that existed.  This was a place that I would go to when the world seemed unjust or cruel or even if I was just unhappy; it would help me gain perspective and help me to remember who I was. It was serenity.

And it wasn't an easy place to walk either.  Most of the time I had to deal with areas that had been eroded through mudslides or a tree that had fallen over from some storm or there were massive boulders that I would have to climb over.  There were even some swampy areas that tried to take my shoes but that was just a part of the beauty of the place; it was rugged and whole, an adventure, a place to explore and feel each and every time that you may have been the first one there.  It was pristine in its untouched beauty and not many people knew about it.  Sure there were the mountain bikers but they also have a love for natural beauty and would create their paths so that they were a part of the natural surroundings; using old logs to make bridges and running with the landscape so that you had a great place to walk or bike depending on your preference.

About two years ago, massive dump trucks and those trucks with the big shovels on them came to the area.  It was a hard area to get to with no real access and that too was amazing.  It was hidden and out of the way and you would only know about it if you had a little bit of explorer in you.  The people in the trucks built a bridge across the river making access to the area easy to get to.  

I watched with trepidation as they invaded my sanctuary and I watched as the trucks came too and fro working on this and that.  My first thought was that they were repairing a part of the Don Valley Parkway as the park runs slightly parallel to it for a bit.  Or at least that was my hope.  So I continued walking in other parks.  They were all nice and serene but they didn't fill my heart the way this one park did.  

Today, the path to get to the other park was closed so I thought that I would go and see what they did to my favourite park.

It was ruined.  They had built a long winding path with gravel that cut through the forest like a scar.  I could hear the land screaming and my heart broke.  The path was at least as wide as two cars, they put barriers along the side to keep you from entering the forested part.  My absolute favourite spot in the park was now well kempt and manicured.  There were no animals to be seen anywhere, there was silence in the forest area.  The birds no longer sang.  I can't tell you how devastated I was.  This beautiful place although still beautiful had lost its magic.  

My sister was saying to me the other day that Toronto was too regulated.  I listened to her remark and thought well maybe a little but I think now that she was right.  And this park was the perfect example.  It was perfect in its imperfection but then the city came along and fixed the imperfections and in doing so they destroyed what was so magical about this place.  I don't know if I'll ever return to the park again, it's too humanized now.  It seems to me that this is something that all humanity is a little guilty of: taking that which was perfect as it was and trying to change it to meet our own needs.  There isn't really an accounting for whatever else exists around us.  Perhaps that is a failing in our species that we don't have the foresight or awareness to recognize the magic that exists and in not recognizing it we are carefully and slowly destroying it.