Add quality time, 'Les Miserables' to whack packs

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, December 5, 2001

Quality time and a video of Les Miserables must be included in our whack packs for a world out of whack, according to two of our coffee companions.

Our first letter is from Cochrane entertainer Candace Carnie. Many of you may be familiar with Madd River, Candace’s 1997 CD of easy-listening vocals. Her suggestion for healing our world is to pursue more quality time. She writes:

A FRIEND AND I were shuffling through the snow recently during a scheduled Up And Walking trek. She has children of school age, and I listened as she talked about how different schools have different standards. Some are so achievement-oriented that even the kindergarten levels are crammed with apparent overdoses of advanced learning, where some children are overwhelmed by computer classes and the like.

I, in turn, mentioned hearing about a school that was talking about abolishing recess – that 15 minutes a day, multiplied over the school year, the school reasoned, adds up to a lot of learning time.

We both were in favour of letting kids be kids while they can. There are many adults in the boomer generation who are having to re-learn how to play and take time out.

Further, instant gratification seems to be the norm these days. This, I think, results in inhuman demands being made on people. We cannot expect the instant service from people that we get from machines. If we feel urgently driven to get something done, let’s ask ourselves: Will this matter in 50 years?

I would add a whack of quality time to the whack pack. Let's teach children and ourselves the discipline of taking quality time off, and just playing.

It was over 20 years ago that a wise man of the cloth advised me: "Learn to do nothing well." In short, learn to do nothing, and do it well.

If we had a great whack of time in the pack, I think it might lead to more beauty in our lives. We could use that time to not only smell the roses, but to think things through. And with relaxed thinking, there might be fewer impulsive words and actions – and a lot more common sense, of which the world is arguably in need.

Without quality time, we may survive, but we cannot truly live.

—Candace Carnie, Cochrane

A copy of Les Miserables should be included in this week’s whack pack, according to Cochrane coffee companion Velma Noble.

The other day, Velma and I were discussing Liam Neeson’s memorable portrayal of Jean Valjean in this 1998 film interpretation of the Victor Hugo classic. It is the story of a convict who finds freedom because of the love and forgiveness of a bishop, and then spends his life passing that love and freedom on to others. In a follow-up note to our coffee chat, Velma explained why she believes the film is so important to share with the world:

WHEN I REVIEW Les Miserables in my mind and soul, I feel a joy in knowing that other people on their personal journey can have turning points in their lives as poignant and powerful as Liam Neeson's character.

To know the full extent of God's love at any moment in our life is, I believe, the ultimate experience we can have while here on earth. Our experiences with love are the true touchstones of our lives, our special collection of memories which guide us through the tougher moments when they present themselves.

There really is no past, present, or future without love. Where there is fear and hatred on this earth, there can be no real or lasting progress, only a blind continuation of the darkness. Despite the great odds, we must believe in the ultimate power of love to heal and restore us to our full and unique potentials.

—Velma Noble, Cochrane

© 2001 Warren Harbeck

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