24 November 2009

this city is full of life


It's been over 3 years since I moved to Montreal and began my relationship with this city, and while the honeymoon stage has ended, the love affair has not.

I want to write about this both to tell you a bit about this amazing city and the lifestyle(s) it supports, and to remind myself not to take it for granted as I often tend to. Also, every day when I'm out walking I think about this, so it's time to get it out of my head.

As part of my job is convincing grad students to come to Montreal to do their studies, I spend a good part of my days considering and writing copy about the "selling points" of the city. Promotional literature aside, if you were to ask me why living here is so wonderful, I would tell you the following:

It is a city that keeps your life force charged.

On days where I feel low, the city has so many ways to bring me up. Crowded sidewalks, multilingual gossip, music pouring out of open windows, dogs waiting outside coffee shops without leashes for their owners, affordable dining, bring your own wine (with no corkage fees), high quality chocolate everywhere, cheap booze, short walking distances, swirling staircases, festivals and happenings everywhere you look, the way the wind blows down the streets and knocks you back, seeing the same faces at all sorts of events.

Almost everyone I know here seems shaped by the vibe of the city. Everyone works, but few let their work interfere with their play. People of all ages go out on weeknights and don't live by strict schedules or restrict their living to the weekends.

From my experience, the mid-twenties seem to be a turning point when people decide to keep taking risks and experimenting and meeting new people and getting messy, or they stick to only what they're comfortable with and, as I have decided to put it, give up on life.

I have seen so many people giving up on life! Young people! Who don't give a damn about trying anything new or meeting anyone they don't know, or even eating anything they haven't tasted. Though it's unnervingly common, this kind of attitude appalls me and I refuse to believe it's an inevitable part of growing up. Those who have this outlook will be the first to tell you they're adults now and, well, "this is it." I watch their life force flickering as they resign themselves to their status quo.

Living in Montreal makes it very hard to give up on life. Even if you try to slack off and stop learning and doing, someone is going to drag you out of your slump and back into the energy of the city. If your resolve to keep experiencing dwindles, someone will notice and save you from the abyss of the banal. The very energy of the city is your safety net, rescuing you from mediocrity.

A place that reminds you to love life, to push yourself to be more inspired than you were a moment ago, to care about what other people are doing, to inform yourself about the wider world, and to consciously seek out joy and pleasure makes you a better person.

When I know I need to be kinder, wiser, humbler, and better, and recharge the old spiritual batteries, I just walk around and let the city flow through me. That, to me is pretty powerful in its simplicity, and a damn fine selling point for people considering a move here.


Jess said...

Amen, sister!

Leslie said...

You inspire me!


Dustjacket Attic said...

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