As Northern Hoot paused, I pause, reflecting on my part, reflecting on our part. We all have a part when flowers that are meant to flourish and bloom struggle. Northern Hoot is incredibly important to me despite outward appearances, writing only two much too lengthy pieces, amounting to a small contribution. Yet it was transformative, Northern Hoot opening a door after so many were slammed on my face. It is easy to shut a door on another, thinking only of ourselves, our small narrow world and needs. It takes energy and strength to hold a door open for others to walk through. It makes no sense that Northern Hoot, who opened its door to others, asked for support, not for its own glory, but to bring glory to others, to give a voice to the North, did not receive the financial support needed. We have not helped, not me, not you, not us as a collectivity.
Why is a voice important? It is important because we think we have freedom of speech but really, we don’t. Not really, so much edited from our speeches, so much removed from original works that the truth is lost. I know, my first spoof book lost. Writers are expected to write a certain way to be heard, to be published. I remember submitting my first article to Chatelaine, eager with anticipation, only to receive the response “Your pitch doesn’t fit our magazine”. I had no idea what a pitch was, no idea then, no idea now. I never was much good at pitching ball anyway, no-one wanting a scrawny kid on their team. Thankfully, Northern Hoot never mentioned a word about pitch, about past doors that were closed so diplomatically and politely but closed none-the-less. Society is good at closing doors, without thinking about the long-term effects, the ramifications, the implications on a person’s life. It is paralyzing to put it mildly, like blasting pesticides on a tree that is trying to grow. Northern Hoot had no interest in killing talent, silencing voices, no interest in making everything so politically correct that the words became incorrect, somehow flawed, somehow a lie. Northern Hoot was interested in the truth, in freedom, in honoring the experience and voices of others. Northern Hoot is the wisest of owls planted in the north. I wonder whether the owl will remain? I wonder whether the owl will fly somewhere else?
Failure is a hard pill to swallow. I am not saying Northern Hoot failed, but I am saying we failed, I failed. Most communities fertilize, nurture and water that which is beautiful. They don’t let something integral to our well-being leave or close its doors, even for a moment. They don’t let a voice that others count on pause. They aren’t off spending money on unimportant things, things that clutter up our lives, when something important, with the potential to last for an eternity, struggles. The truth is lasting. A voice is eternal. They don’t let a magnificent owl close its doors. They feed the owl.
I had a few things up my sleeve for Northern Hoot, a few articles I put to pen. As well, I have been working on a website for a series of books. The site is linked to Northern Hoot where a gap and hole will now exist. I will leave it as is, accustomed to gaps and holes. You see, I am a writer, have always been a writer, with two fatal failures that practically killed my soul until Northern Hoot dared to publish my writing, until Northern Hoot decided to honor my thoughts, until Northern Hoot decided to affirm me, not edit me as a human being.
I never saw this Northern Hoot ending coming, because there are so many other endings around me, so many that it is difficult to till the soil, difficult to plant my favorite garden, difficult to wake up and smell the flowers, difficult, just plain difficult. It is fitting, raining so heavily this summer that I somehow feel more alive when the sadness of heaven touches my shoulders. It is the first summer since a child when I never went swimming, not once. This may be a small thing for others but not for me. Once I warned an acquaintance “If you take me to the beach you won’t see me the entire day because I will be in the water”. He laughed it off like a bad hangover until later in the evening he frantically waved, yelling at me to come back to shore “You sure weren’t kidding”. He never called again, not that I cared, I suppose loving the depth of the ocean more than the depth of a relationship when I had seen too many come and go for my liking.
But I do care about Northern Hoot because it reminds me of the depth of the ocean, waters that allow us to swim freely, without restraint. I also know that I am like Northern Hoot, raw and real. Northern Hoot gave me my first set of wings as a writer, wings I will always remember as one remembers her first love. Hopefully, when I soar, Northern Hoot will soar with me.
When endings surround a person, it is difficult to honor beginnings. Yet I am waking up, a beginning of sorts, as I sift and sort. Lately, I have been throwing out things which are not important and investing in people who are important, investing in health-care, investing in helping the earth, whether it is picking up litter from the park, helping an animal or engaging in the rather out-moded commodity of “listening”. I hope others wake up with me, wake up and forget about things, forget about buying something that will hang in a closet or sit on a shelf when they can donate to a worthy cause – keeping Northern Hoot alive.
Forget about things, let’s give Northern Hoot new wings. Let the wise owl fly high in the sky. Northern Hoot is a wise owl, using the word “pause”. It’s up to us to hit “play” so the wise owl will stay.
Downsize on the unimportant. Upsize on that which is important. Upsize on the truth, upsize on courage, upsize on freedom. Support Northern Hoot today because I give a hoot, really, I do.
Until then, I will live with the gap and hole in my heart. I will miss you Northern Hoot, really, I will.
Please give generously at northernhoot.com.