About Robert

“Do what you must, be what you must, it is the difference between life and nothing.”
Portrait of a Modernist’s Daughter
"There is only the fight to recover what has been lost And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss. For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business."
T.S. Eliot, East Coker

Robert GirvanI was born in New Brunswick, a land of black woods, wild river valleys, and long white winters. Snowstorms were, for my friends and I, a magical gift that closed schools. We played outside all day, oblivious to the passage of time, immersed – literally –in the freshly fallen, and sometimes still falling, snow. My literature teacher tried to teach us Shakespeare, but I was immune to all that then. Life was outside, not in a book. When I was in high school my family moved to Edmonton, Alberta, where my father had found a job. I studied at the University of Alberta. A world of culture, of knowledge and imagination, of the possibility of wisdom, of seeing the part in light of the whole, opened before me. At last, rather late at 19, I was ready to become less ignorant.

Later, I studied law at the University of Victoria. After my father died, I quit law and moved to Asia for nearly a year. When I returned to Canada I moved to Toronto, where I practiced law for sixteen years – twelve as a Defence lawyer, and four as a Crown prosecutor. To me, then and now, this work seemed to have an intrinsic value. Though the work was very stressful, working in the law courts taught me a great deal about the complexity of life, and the vital role of justice, not just in the statute books, but in our own hearts and minds.

I feel blessed to live in a country in which I can say or write what I wish, even if I am wrong. I feel even luckier that circumstances have allowed me time to devote to writing, reading, thinking, and going for long walks. I gather more insights on those walks than when I am in front of a desk. I hope to contribute to helping out as best I can, in my own way, as so many today are suffering oppression and poverty, or simply living badly through ignorance. While I cannot do much to help, you do what you can.