Sometimes I think of consciousness as a river. Most places, it’s armoured over with concrete, sometimes several layers thick. We’ve all heard about the river, and we all find ways to dip a bucket now and then. Some groups (my dad is a Zen Buddhist) have put years of hard work into building wells – reinforced, symmetrical structures, with sturdy rungs for those brave enough to climb down. Some people bottle that river water – and indeed some drugs and other shortcuts can remind you what consciousness tastes like.
The river has always been there, and it’s still there, far under our feet.
24 hours ago, when I posted my “manifesto,” or “cri de coeur,” or Howard Beale moment” or “Jerry Maguire mission statement,” or “extremist left-wing rant,” as it has variously been described, I had two very simple motives. I felt I owed it to the colleagues I would be leaving to explain my decision. And I needed to save my energy for driving, rather than telling the story to each and every friend and family member over the phone.
When I was done digging a shallow grave for my TV career, I swung my pickaxe and stuck it in the ground. Then I sat down to rest.
When I took my eyes off the horizon and looked down at the ground, I realized something was seeping out around the blade of the pickaxe. A tiny bit of sweet, clear water trickled out over the rocks. But it didn’t dry up, like I thought. Now there’s a little spring gurgling along, winding its way through the dust, carving a little channel as it goes along. It tastes amazing.
I want to thank every single person who read that first post. I especially want to thank all of you who took the time to put your own thoughts down here in a comment, or repost the blog on Facebook, or discuss some of the ideas on Twitter or your own blogs. I wish I had time to reply to each of you.
I especially want to thank all the journalists who re-posted the link, possibly at a risk to their internal reputation. Thank you David Akin (Sun), thank you Muhammad Lila and Duncan McCue (CBC), Susan Delacourt and Antonia Zerbisias (Toronto Star), Stephane Giroux and Todd van der Heyden (CTV), Rob Silver (Globe & Mail), Don Macpherson (Montreal Gazette) and many more.
I also want to thank everyone who shared their own story. I am humbled.
There’s a few people calling me a hack, a naif, radical, immature, irresponsible, narcissistic, insane, verbose, boring and so on. Oh yeah, also “David Suzuki Jr.” That one was funny. Some of the other ones hurt. All this is great. I’m definitely not going to zap your comments. I hope we can debate, when I have some time.
So far though, the haters are a tiny minority. Most of the people who disagree with me have held their tongue, or been kind and polite. The rest of you have leaned over and wrapped me in a warm, soft, Kevlar blanket. I was pretty sure I was doing the right thing, but the online bonfire lit by my resignation has become a kiln: tempering the steel, galvanizing my resolve.
I think a few key things have been demonstrated here:
1. People will still read a 3,000 word essay.
2. People can recognize truth and honesty.
3. People are thirsty.
They say water is one of the most powerful forces on earth. It can create and destroy. It can trickle for millenia through limestone caverns, finding a way under miles of desert. Or it can crash over the beach and sweep whole cities away. I guess we’ll see what this little spring turns into.
The discussion needs to continue. Conversations need to be had. But right now I need to rest. I barely slept last night. I’ve been reading every single comment, fielding calls from friends, and trying to keep up with the direct messages, texts, and emails. I need a break. I need to drive a bit to clear my head. Tomorrow I’m planning to cross over into the US and shut off my iPhone. But this is far from over.
As they used to say, stay tuned.