A Fleeting Star

A Fleeting Star in Pelly Crossing, Yukon | Photo: Melanie Hackett

Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch.  My feet rhythmically crush the crystals of ice on the forest floor as crimson sunlight reflects from their intricate architecture.  I lift my face towards the mist that is swirling from the depths of the granite canyon, and notice a rainbow emanating within it.  The thunderous rush of a stunning waterfall below vibrates inside my chest, and I can see through the emerald water to the very bottom.  I take a deep breath of the crisp, tangy forest air.  The phenomenal wonders of this place seep into my thoughts.  How precisely atoms are added to a growing ice crystal lattice.  How rays of golden sunshine are dispersed into the spectrum of wavelengths by the prism of mist to paint the splash of colour our eyes can pick up.  How gravity produces such a spectacular waterfall.  How geologic processes carved this bottomless canyon.  And even how all elements combined in such a fashion to cause a river of life to develop.  Yet surrounded by endless beauty, my heart is drowning with an immense sorrow.

I once knew a beautiful person.  Sheena was part of my competitive Irish Dancing team, and we travelled to many competitions throughout North America.  Tall, lanky, brunette, she was often partnered with me.  After finally medalling at the North American Championships in Ottawa, she moved to Australia to begin a new life that would lead her to graduating with honours and becoming a nurse.  She taught in Cambodia for a year, and was nominated as an executive of a non-profit organization that reduces health inequalities in rural and indigenous Australia and around the globe.  She then pursued her Master’s degree in speech pathology.  On the side, she was scouted to become a model and actress.  More importantly than her many accomplishments, I remember her as a wonderful friend and genuinely nice person.

Sheena and I in the dance team group photo
Sheena and I in the dance team group photo

Recently, she suddenly entered my mind.  I’m considering a trip to Australia in the spring, and was hoping to reconnect with her.  Though we hadn’t been in touch for a long while, I had this strange feeling that I should contact her, and couldn’t get her out of my mind.  Later, I received the news that around the same time, she was leaving her final exam for her Master’s degree, and was hit by a car mere steps away from her vehicle.  She passed away at the scene.

Whether my feeling was coincidence, or whether there was something more to it, I will never know for certain.  I like to think that her big heart and spirit filled every corner of our Earth as she passed, and that her short but wondrous presence on Earth will continue to paint rainbows in the hearts of many.

Sheena
Sheena

Several years ago, I myself was hit while bicycling.  The aftermath involved serious injuries that tore from me all of my passions, career paths, and even social networks, including Irish Dancing.  Years of physical and emotional recovery ensued.  In the midst of the darkest times in my recovery, I felt completely hopeless although intellectually I knew that it could easily have been much worse. I was the lucky one.  Eventually I reached a point where I could be grateful enough for everything I did still have to realize the beauty that exists in our world.  And occasionally, during the fleeting times that I had a glimpse into my pre-accident life, the beauty of life was vividly sharpened.

This unexpected tragedy is a harsh reminder that life is too short to be taken for granted and to spend it in sorrow.  Though one life is over, it continues for everyone left behind, including the driver of the car.  A life forever wracked with guilt, this life will likely also face seemingly unbearable challenges in the coming years.  It may never be in the hearts of those who loved Sheena to forgive such a devastating mistake, but the truth is it can happen to any one of us.  More than ever before, I am determined to make the most of my time and enjoy life fully in the wonders and the sorrows, and also to make an effort to bring happiness to others.  Life is but a fleeting falling star.  As the kids these days say, YOLO!  Does that mean I won’t feel sad? Of course not.  There exists an eternal and infinite sadness in my heart.  But it is through this very sadness that the beauty and preciousness of life shines through even more clearly.

It is my hope that through these words, anyone who is navigating through loss may find solace in the idea that the very loss has the potential to highlight the wonders of life both in the cherished memories, and in the time yet to come.

As I’m standing here, feeling the waterfall of tears plunging through the granite canyon, the mist off the water rises once more.  Catching the fluid rays of shimmering light it dances in the breeze before being carried away.  Is it just my imagination, or did I catch a brief glimpse of the sparkling rainbow of an Irish Dancing angel?

Stunning beauty of Lake Laberge, Yukon, Canada

Lake Laberge, Yukon, Canada | Photo by: Gurdeep Pandher
Lake Laberge, Yukon, Canada | Photo by: Gurdeep Pandher
Lake Laberge, Yukon, Canada | Photo by: Gurdeep Pandher
Lake Laberge, Yukon, Canada | Photo by: Gurdeep Pandher
Lake Laberge, Yukon, Canada | Photo by: Gurdeep Pandher
Lake Laberge, Yukon, Canada | Photo by: Gurdeep Pandher
Lake Laberge, Yukon, Canada | Photo by: Gurdeep Pandher
Lake Laberge, Yukon, Canada | Photo by: Gurdeep Pandher
Lake Laberge, Yukon, Canada | Photo by: Gurdeep Pandher
Lake Laberge, Yukon, Canada | Photo by: Gurdeep Pandher
Lake Laberge, Yukon, Canada | Photo by: Gurdeep Pandher
Lake Laberge, Yukon, Canada | Photo by: Gurdeep Pandher
Lake Laberge, Yukon, Canada | Photo by: Gurdeep Pandher

Lake Laberge is a widening of the Yukon River north of Whitehorse, Yukon in Canada. It is fifty kilometres long and ranges from two to five kilometres wide. It is about 30-40 minutes drive from the city of Whitehorse. Its water is always very cold, and its weather often harsh and suddenly variable. Photos: Gurdeep Pandher

Stay Sun Safe

The sun shining at McIntyre Creek pond in Whitehorse (Yukon) | Photo: Gurdeep Pandher

It’s the beginning of August, which means it’s really heating up here on the Yukon. With sunshine every day and warm temperatures, it’s hard to stay indoors. The sunlight warms you up inside and out, and gives you a good dose of vitamin D. However, without taking proper precautions, it can also cause sunburn, premature aging, and even lead to cancer. So how can you preserve your skin’s health? Read on to find out.

Covering up when you head out is very important. Obviously, with the heat, wearing long sleeve sweaters and jeans is not the answer. A loose shirt that covers at least half your arm and a breezy maxi skirt or longer shorts, however, are viable options. For even more protection, bring an umbrella, sunglasses, and a hat out as well. Make sure, after a few hours of sun, you head into the shade for some rest to prevent heatstroke as well as sunburn.

As everyone knows, sunscreen is mandatory if you want to go out anywhere, in any weather. Yes, cloudy days can damage your skin as well, though obviously not as easily. Depending on where you live and what the weather is like on that day, the SPF you choose can vary. However, you can never go wrong with at least an SPF 30 sunscreen. Slather it on liberally a few minutes prior to heading outside, and reapply often, especially if you’re staying outside for an extended time or exercising.

Sunburn isn’t the only discomfort the sun can give you; hyperthermia (overheating) is common as well. To prevent it, drink lots of fluids, and limit your sun exposure. If at any point you feel sweaty, lethargic, and uncomfortable, head inside for a while. If the temperatures get really hot, and you don’t have an air conditioner at home, head out to the mall or library, where it’s bound to be chilly, or go swimming. If, somehow, none of those options are available, there’s no harm in taking a cold shower.

The sun is only around for a limited time, so take advantage of it while it lasts. However, no matter what a hassle toting an umbrella is or how time consuming slathering on sunscreen is, it’s still important to take good care of yourself and stay safe. However, if you don’t feel like heading outside, sitting by the air conditioner engrossed in a good book is a great way to pass the time as well.

Go Gadget Free

Go Gadget Free

Certainly, in our modern society, technology plays a very prominent role. However, not all gadgets are good for you and can cause a multitude of problems like myopia and back pain from being hunched over a device all day. That’s why it’s good to sometimes just unplug and get away from it all. You may wonder how it could be done short of going off to somewhere remote, but it’s actually very easy if you pick the right time, are kept busy, and have the discipline to go tech free.

Picking the right time is very important. After all, it’s very unwise to forgo your computer when you boss is mass emailing everyone on your team instructions on the project. Depending on how long you want to stay tech free for, pick either a non-busy week or a relaxed weekend. Then, you can tell friends and family you will be not available through texting or Facebook, but would gladly answer their phone calls from an actual phone (not Skype). After that, it’s time to put away the Smartphone, turn off your computer, and wave goodbye to you iPad.

Obviously, at first, you will find your day to be very empty. If you’re anything like a modern person, about two hours of your day will just have opened up. Be aware that you need to fill in the time with constructive hobbies, or the phone will be back in your hand in no time. Going outside and being active, meeting face to face with friends, and picking up a good book are all suitable activities for filling in your time. If you’re really diligent, fill the time by finishing up that report or project. One thing’s for sure: your day will get a lot more productive.

Discipline, for this exercise, is especially important. If you are weak willed, you will find yourself back to where you started in the blink of an eye. It won’t be easy at first, but once you get into the swing of things, you may actually enjoy a life without technology. Most likely, your boss would never say the angry texts they just sent you to your face, and you will never buy clothing items in the wrong size because you’re actually trying them on in store. All it takes is breaking the habit.

Going tech-free may sound great, but remember to keep a few exceptions. Your phone should still be on for calls only, and for safety reasons. All other limits are up to you to set up. Removing gadgets from your life leaves spaces for more productive and rewarding things to come in. After your tech free days, evaluate your experience. Did you enjoy life more? Did you get more face to face contact? If the answers are yes, feel free to schedule another device-free period. You know you want to.