On (re)gaining perspective

It’s getting late, so I doubt this will be very long, just something that was on my mind while I was standing in the foyer of Centre Block, watching some of the thousands who turned up to say a quick goodbye to Jack Layton. It is very easy, particularly in political Ottawa, to lose perspective. It is a goldfish bowl, a bubble, an echo chamber -- whatever. The Hill is a place where the outside world blurs a bit, and eventually you start to wonder whether maybe that other part of the country you used to live in was perhaps just a nice dream where nobody talked about politics, ever, let alone expected you to.

And you sort of start to forget those people in the rush of gathering quotes and speculations and analyses, and refer to them as a shapeless blob: The Voters. And remembering your nice dream, you are convinced that you know them – perhaps better than they know themselves. And so, you think, you are here to help.

But even during an election, when that blob is supposed to take shape because, this being a democracy or whatever, it is about the people, stupid, they still remain on the outside looking in at rhetoric and television soundbites; at a circus of microphones and cameras and staffers and campaign planes and, basically, a bunch of closed doors.

Then, next thing you know, one of those doors opens and a few thousand of them walk in. And then it’s like, “fuck,” because you remember that people took time off work, took the time to bring their kids, took the time to take the time, basically, in the face of all those denied entries, to do something heartfelt and decent and genuine anyway.

And, standing on the other side of the velvet ropes, watching them in their private moment of grief, you sort of realize that maybe you are not helping things as much as you should be.