Siege Diaries 11/3/2020

Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt: How can this be exactly what I needed? 

The prompt doesn’t go into details, but the associated meditation does:  the reference is to external events that happen contrary to our plans–can we find what we “need” in those events?  How can we use them to help define our destiny?   It’s not about “things happening for a reason”, but it is definitely true that the individual can take things that happen–even illogical ones–and find a way to react that is based on reason.   So let’s look at (waves hands) all this.  I know that a global pandemic isn’t about me.  The current turmoil in the US isn’t about me. However, it has prompted a reevaluation and a better understanding of what’s important to me.  This is one of the reasons why we are downsizing to one car and giving up the Porsche.  Likewise, I still feel passionate about supporting the arts–but when I can travel again, except for two or three extremely exceptional possibilities, I’ll be supporting things here in Ontario (although I would not rule out other destinations in Canada.)   I was already trending towards an increased level of community activity;  that’s still one to be investigated further.  I wouldn’t say I precisely needed this, but I can use it, and learn.   


And from my friend Pasi, a reminder in the form of a quotation:  “I have found that it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folks that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” ~ Gandalf

Yesterday I posted a June 1975 photo of Dmitri Shostakovich that I was in the process of processing to use for my next embroidery, after a little bit of manipulation in GIMP.  I’ve finally decided to abandon using tshirt transfers to get the design onto fabric because of their tendency to yellow, and I wanted crisp blacks, whites, and greys for this one.  So I used my light table to outline and then have been sketching in using permanent pens.  The design above will be my working cartoon.

Today’s Shostakovich installment from the Jerusalem Quartet:  #11.  This one just seems to fit my mood today.  I’m jittery.  Can’t seem to concentrate much.  This short quartet consists of seven short sections–fragments, really, at least for the first five–all played without pause, almost as if Shostakovich can’t quite decide what this quartet is about.  It’s only when you get to the sixth – “Elegy” – that anything cohesive develops.  This was written in the wake of the death of the second violinist of the Beethoven Quartet, which did most of Shostakovich’s premieres.

As I write, it’s just after 8 pm. I have listened to a lot of music today. I can’t quite stand the election stuff right now, so I’ve done the Shostakovich 4th symphony and am now on the 7th. Both seem sort of right for this.

Four years ago, I didn’t have Shostakovich. I was at work on that Tuesday night, and had debated staying late for a Democrats Abroad election party. I didn’t. I went home. But I was pretty confident that Hillary had it. And then I remember, clear as anything, driving on Upper James St, doing an errand around 8:30 pm, and hearing some of the early returns–and I had this very, very bad feeling about all of it.

I admit, I’m avoiding it. I will know soon enough. Nothing will undo what the past four years has cost the country of my birth in terms of idealism, or virtue, or standing in the world, or what four more years of that could do to its future. It’s a train wreck, but one that will have to be endured somehow. But whether it’s just a few cars derailed or the whole bridge blown up and the locomotive tumbling down into a gorge in flames is what remains to be seen.

I will say this: At this time in 2016, I was beginning to suspect the outcome. This year–no clue.

And we head into the final few minutes of the Shostakovich 7th. They’re playing for their lives. They’re starving and have made it through 70 minutes of this. And so can I. No matter what.

The low brass just stood up.

The siege didn’t break on August 9, 1942, but it was, in retrospect, over.

Good night, and good luck.