Tag Archives: home

In Hockey, Life, There’s No Place Like Home

By Jason Menard,

Whether your name is Dorothy or Dmitri, there really is no place like home.

In the wake of Alexander Burmistrov’s return to the KHL and Ilya Kovalchuk’s decision to forsake $77 million US to return to his homeland, the Winnipeg Sun’s Paul Friesen looked into whether teams should be concerned about drafting and investing in Russian players. Continue reading

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What Was Actually Stolen

By Jason Menard

Just when you want to hope for the best in this world, someone comes around and makes you question whether good truly exists.

Earlier this week, my wife was robbed outside our home. The thief physically only walked away with a portable Nintendo DS Lite system. But emotionally the toll he took was far greater. To the man who robbed my wife this week, here’s a list of what you stole.

You stole confidence. That woman you robbed was outside her home late at night for two reasons: pain and suffering. Due to the continued effects of a traffic accident almost four years ago, my wife experiences crippling pain that’s barely dulled by significant amounts of medication. As such, sleep comes fleetingly, and discomfort is the norm. Combine that with medicinal side-effects including a feeling of internal heating that’s disproportionate to the actual temperature, and that explains why she – like hundreds of other nights – was sitting alone outside her own home. Yet still, despite being racked with pain, she fought back – unsuccessfully. But in that one brief exchange, she showed more humanity than you will ever know.

You stole security. A home is supposed to be one’s sanctuary, but by committing such a vile act just outside of our home, you’ve robbed a number of people of that sense of security that is one’s right. My wife, my children, and I now are more wary of stepping out our doors. The night that was once so welcome is now merely foreboding.

You stole pride. A woman struggling with an injury that already causes her to question her value now must deal with the fact that you placed her in a situation that rendered her helpless. A man, who slept through the whole ordeal – familiar with his wife’s nocturnal wanderings and no longer fazed by them – feels less of a husband due to his inability to protect his family.

You stole sanctuary. Your act was not just physical. It was emotional. While the robbery only took 10 seconds of your life, it was replayed in my wife’s mind all night and will continue to haunt her anytime she sees someone in a dark, hooded coat sweater. I, sitting at work, no longer can feel as assured that my family is secure – the questions will always linger.

You stole innocence: And this may be a good thing, in the long run. It can be argued that no one should put themselves in a position of risk – but one’s home should be exempt from that. Your act changed that. No place is safe anymore, save for our own vigilance. And vigilant we will be.

In the end, my wife did nothing wrong. In merely trying to live her life and cope with the side effects of another person’s mistake, she became the victim of someone else’s malice. You spoke no words, but your actions speak volumes. You disappeared into the night, but remain ever present in our thoughts and minds. To you, my family meant nothing. And you, who once meant nothing to us, are now an unwelcome part of our lives.

That system you stole was worth $150 at most. In the end, was it worth it? You’ve mortgaged your soul for a cheap toy. But the cost to us is immeasurable. What we’ve lost physically is nothing. What we’ve lost in terms of hope for the world, trust in our fellow man, and belief in the future is priceless.

That’s a debt you could never repay – even if you were so inclined. But for one to be so morally bankrupt as to take advantage of an injured person, then the concept of honouring one’s debt is not one that comes to mind. But who knows, maybe you’ll read this and the faint beating of that cold heart will start pounding through your callous exterior. Perhaps knowing your victims had faces, names, and feelings will stop you from believing that your actions have no lasting impact. Maybe, just maybe, you can repay the debt you owe us by becoming a better person and not putting anyone else through this torment.

Forgive me, however, for not holding out hope.

We will come out of this stronger, eventually. The one thing you cannot steal is our family’s bond and love for each other. We will be more vigilant and we will protect each other better because you’ve stolen more than just a video game – you stole our belief in a better world.

2007© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

The Great Middle-Class Doughnut

By Jason Menard

Why is it that in our attempts to find the best that life has to offer, we often ignore the most important aspect of our existence – our soul?

I’m referring to the underlying societal gravitational force that begets the Great Middle-Class Doughnut. No, I’m not referring to spreading waistlines. The insidious force to which I’m referring is the gravitational force that draws many of us to an inertial point somewhere between urban and rural life – the suburbs.

We have heard countless stories about how many of today’s rural dwellers are abandoning their environment and conglomerating towards urban environments. But, as our basic physics lessons taught us, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Just as people are being drawn to the cities, a significant number are being repelled from its core in search for a better life.

Just as the planets and satellites are held in their orbits by opposing fields of gravity, so do suburbanites congregate in a swath of land that’s not “downtown” but that’s certainly not to be considered as “The Boonies.” For many of us, our aspirations are to find that patch of land, in our quite community, with our fenced-in yard, 2.3 kids, and the family pet. It’s a good life and it’s certainly not to be begrudged for those that have chosen it – but there seems to be something missing.

But that same bourgeois magnetism that draws us to these areas is the same that confines us to the four walls of our home. We reject interaction with our neighbours, we travel to the same Big Box stores, to buy our same value-sized products to return quickly to our Home Depot-inspired family rooms to gather around the TV to watch television.

And I’m no different. My wife and I have often spoken as to where we’re going to settle, and the idea of a place that’s safe for the kids is first and foremost in our minds. But, in embracing the security and uniformity that the suburbs represent, are we denying our children the opportunity to experience the beating heart of the city they live in?

As long-time Montrealers who now live out-of-province, we are afforded the opportunity to visit the city on a regular basis and look at it with a perspective that enjoys both an insider view and an outsider’s freshness of sight. We’ve watches as our friends have spread to the far corners of the island and beyond, while other remain in a more central location.

And, at every available opportunity, I try to walk the streets of the city. While I’m instantly at home in the suburbs – a place that’s eerily reminiscent of my current city of residence, London, ON, it’s the vibrancy of the core that strikes me. The streets are painted with a variety of brushstrokes, each colour overlapping and crafting an image that’s stunning for its raw beauty.

I’m instantly transported into a world that I imagine existed in much the same manner a half-century ago. While the storefronts may change, the essential ebb and flow of the streets remain the same. From the people sitting on their balcony to the animated conversations on the street, the very soul of a city manifests itself in all its glory. Instead of radiating from a TV screen, life presents itself in live action, with each of us as an active participant.

What most of us forget is that the true soul of a city – the reason why we were drawn to a location in the first place, is at its heart. It’s not a coincidence that the music that moves us to our very souls comes from the inner city. Motown, the Liverpool-fueled British Invasion, the Mississippi Blues all come from experiences forged at the heart of a city. New York City, the symbolic pinnacle of success and dreams, is represented not by the commute from Connecticut, but rather the vibrancy and excitement that resides right on the paved streets of Manhattan.

Yet, what I may be most guilt of here is romanticizing. While I can appreciate this tapestry of life, I’m not privy to the hardships that go into weaving it on a day-to-day basis. The same sense of community that I romanticize is forged not from any sense of communal support, but rather out of necessity.

So that’s why, in every step of life, it’s important to appreciate what we have and where we have it. Although often vilified, the suburbs are not soulless. They are, in fact, a place where dreams are realized. And, while the sense of community may not be as prevalent, the essential bonds of family are as taut in the suburbs as they are in the city.

Whether you choose to experience the Great Middle-Class Doughnut or sample the fare from the city’s breadbasket, the most important thing is that you take a bite out of life and savour every moment.

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved