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November 29, 2011

Isolation. It’s part of the pleasure of working in the North. Walking to work and back in blue-white darkness in the smaller communities, boot-squeak on snow, breath freezing in my scarf, those few minutes of solitude were a nourishing, dreamy underlay to the bustle and logic of the day’s nursing. I walked with questions which had no answers, with bits of night-dream, soft inside. Ravens and chained, huddled dogs told unfathomable story-bits of endurance and suffering and magic. There is a curious space in being seen just as nurse, not as person – part loneliness, part freedom.

It’s different in Iqaluit. Hundreds of cars at the 4xdaily rushhour suggest no mysteries, and any snowfall is quickly squashed flat by thousands of feet. Ravens nest away from the town, and eat dogshit. There’s a beautiful beach, rocks encased in grey layers of salt-ice below the tideline and splotched with hot orange lichen above – only for weekend middays when the tide is out and there’s daylight and the cold is bearable. The workings of government are mysterious, but if they hold poetry at all, it sounds harsh and I don’t want to hear it.

The isolation where I work has to do with ideas and questions rejected, small offices off a cluttered hallway and no staff room, and an unwillingness to look at process. It has to do with skilled professionals blocked from excelling, and complicated inclusions and exclusions, and continuing colonising practices and an emerging culture-state.

Maybe there’s a way to listen to this workplace like learning to listen to discordant jazz – all noise at first, and then patterns and layered ways in and through – and even pleasure.



2 Comments leave one →
  1. Wendy permalink
    November 29, 2011 4:03 am

    Illuminating observations, Alison. Thank you for sharing. Adding to the inspirations to get me putting my own writing out there. Thank you. Wishing you light and warmth.

    • November 30, 2011 3:15 am

      Thanks, Wendy. Feeling I’m part of a conversation helps me to be in productive and restorative solitude, instead of feeling understimulated and lonely. I would love to read your writing. You always have good things to say in response to community needs, and I’m curious about what you would write with a clear space to fill with anything that moved you.I hope you do bring it out, and let me know where to find it.

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