Dear John LeCarre: I have the title for your next suspense novel…





I’m often frustrated by mechanical and technological equipment, like cars and computers. To metaphorize (I don’t know if this is a real word!) this, our bodies (car) and minds (computers) can become frustrating too.

Our world is full of amazingly wonderful creations that simplify and enrich our lives.

  • I can talk face-to-face with my kids wherever they are in the world at the touch of a SKYPE app on an iPad.
  • I can look at my bank statements from home or from Asia or South America if I choose.
  • I can drive to my job in Kelowna with heat in the winter, cooling on a scorching summer day, while listening to music that I choose from my home library of 1000’s of music selections.

I push one button on these machines and they perform feats of magic…no need to feed the horse on a cold, dark morning or chop some wood before something happens.

I love them, but I hate them at the same time. When they work efficiently and listen to what I tell them and do the things I want…I love ’em (kinda like kids, eh?).

But honestly, I don’t understand the inner workings very well, and I know intellectually that they will thrive and live longer, happier lives if I just do the things the owner manuals tell me I should do. A teaspoon of oil here…a little backup of data there, and I’m good for another 3 months or 3 days or whatever.

So Do I Do It?…well…sometimes, but more frequently I tell myself that once I finish this next job or project, then I’ll do the important maintenance. Mañana…most often, mañana!

I have a friend who does all of his own car maintenance…changes oil, lubricates belts, fixes the midwinter jicker, fine tunes the grickily gructus. He spends hours every month doing the makeup on his car, and it hums on for years and years with nary a complaint. I have no doubt that he backs up the data on his computer every week too…damn him!

Maybe It’s Time To Change The Oil!

I’ve always been very poor at maintaining my automotive vehicles and computers. Unfortunately, I live in this weird and unnatural state of belief that if I just ignore them and carry on using them day after day, month after month, they’ll behave and look after me without any love in return. It just feels like I’m wasting time that I can use to do more productive things like write or make music, or run, or watch girls playing beach volleyball.

I know ignoring maintenance doesn’t make sense…just like if I don’t return an answer to your lovely, chatty, fun e-mail in the next week or month, you just might not send me a message ever ever again, and will hate me to boot. (BTW, I will write you (the metaphorical you) back soon, I promise!). I appreciate that you took the time to write and thoroughly enjoyed your message and want you to send 3 more just like it. But just like my car and computer, the maintenance needed to keep our friendship alive takes work and effort and there are so many other things to do. Please don’t hate me…Mañana!

I guess what it comes down to is that I take too many things for granted.

I would NEVER take this for granted!

I expect that my car will work everyday and take me where I want to go. I expect that my computer will light up every morning and reveal the world to me in so many ways that I could not have even imagined just a decade ago.

And more importantly, I expect that the body and mind that have served me pretty damned well for 50 plus years will just keep on ticking along and doing miraculous things day after day forever and ever. Maintenance free.

Once again, I’m living in the world of fanciful thinking. I have to splash myself in the face with some icy cold water and realize what’s going on. As an atheist, my belief system tells me that I have, at best, 20 to 30 years of breath remaining in my eternal existence. If you believe in an afterlife, I jealously admire your ensuing eons of existence…pray for this sad heathen in the millennia to come!

The past few years have been hell for many of my friends and relatives. While respectable statistics tell me our world is full of people living longer lives, my own world is snowballing with the stories of cancerous days…nights filled with pain…smiles tinged with sadness. Is everyone living longer except for the people I care about? Maybe I’m just navel-gazing, but it makes me melancholy.

Melancholic feelings can lead to totally inappropriate humour

The length and quality of one’s life is dependent on so many factors and influences: genes, lifestyle issues like smoking or heavy drinking, amount of exercise, air quality in your city, being married to Henry VIII…LUCK! Like, “why did that car T-bone the guy right behind me in the intersection?”  Diabetes (Type-2) is a largely lifestyle-related epidemic. I work in a medical lab where I’m seeing 100 NEW cases of diabetes cropping up EVERY MONTH in a population of just 150,000.

Instinctively and logically, personal maintenance plays a role for  all of us. Let’s work together to keep our cars (bodies) and computers (minds) in a well-oiled and backed-up state. Granted, it’s not an iron-clad guarantee that we’ll live 20 years longer…some of us will just drop dead unexpectedly, or develop testicular cancer after using athletics-enhancing drugs, who knows? But why tempt fate:

  • Eat healthy foods i.e.. more vegetables, less red meat
  • Exercise a whole bunch of times every week at something you enjoy…even if it’s just walking or pole-dancing or maybe dancing “gangnam-style”!
  • Sleep 1/3 of your life away
  • Love your job or leave it…the stress just ain’t worth it
  • Be good to your friends and relatives
  • Laugh a lot…especially at yourself…or me, why not?

I’m a bad-ass…it’s all about selfishness.

I want to be around for quite a few more years…I want my friends and relations to live long, healthy lives…I want YOU to live for a long, long time.

The story I internalize is that the time to look after our human health is in our early years, but, it’s ALWAYS better late than never. Quitting smoking today might give you a year or two that you wouldn’t have otherwise.

My car may smoke and croak on the side of the highway...I’ll try to take it for it’s 5,000 kilometre service check.

My computer might just melt in an oozing sizzle of wire and silicon chips…I’ll sign up for a cloud-based backup system that does its thing automatically.

My body aches the day after a visit to the gym…must have been a good workout…I’ll feed it well and keep up the good work!

My mind aches after a month of studying Spanish everyday in Barcelona…must have been a good mental workout…I’ll do another Sudoku, conjugate some verbs and keep up the good work!

You see, I want “binders full of long-lived friends and relatives”.

Romney and HEF…new presidential team!!

So, write up this story John LeCarre!!