Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt: Does complaining accomplish anything?
The “good Stoic” response to this would be “no, it doesn’t.” The thinking here is that complaining leads to a negative state of mind. But that discounts the power of simple venting. Sometimes letting off a little steam is helpful in getting your mind cleared of destructive emotions, and allowing you to move forward. What is not helpful is when this kind of venting comes to dominate your life, or starts to plug into a swirling cycle of negative thinking.
It also discounts the corrective action that a justified complaint can lead to when pursued in a more positive way–in a spirit of improvement. Some annoyances are petty. Some not so much. Today, the Ontario government revised their colour-coded alert system for pandemic restrictions after complaints from public health officials. In my mind, it doesn’t go far enough, but it did firmly bounce us from yellow right into red (bypassing orange altogether.) That wouldn’t have happened without complaints.
For me, the difference is about whether there is still the opportunity to change an outcome, or to learn from it. If it’s not something you can control or have an impact on–whether individually or as part of a larger collective–it’s a better use of your time to deal with it and move on. But I think a little venting is justified–so long as your venting doesn’t hurt anyone else.
As I mentioned above, our region officially moves into the red category on Monday. I likely will not go into the museum on Sunday. But the fact that something happened to acknowledge–at least in part–what’s going on felt like progress. And I had a lovely live performance of the Shostakovich 8th to enjoy. The Berlin Philharmonic’s Digital Concert Hall is really the gold standard for livestreamed concerts. They’ve been doing this so long that their camera work is seamless–they know just when to spotlight particular players or sections for solos or important passages. And this time, I got to see Kirill Petrenko, their regular conductor, directing. He has a gorgeous conducting style–a graceful left hand, at times caressing the sound, at times firm; a face full of emotion, and powerful body language. He was mesmerizing, and the orchestra responded accordingly. I realized about halfway through that I could do something I could not actually do in a live concert–take photos. And so, I captured the heart of the symphony–the transitions from the third movement, the progress of the fourth movement, the transition into the fifth, and then, finally, the conclusion.
Tomorrow, I’ll get to go back and watch a very recent performance of the Shostakovich 9th, and maybe I’ll check out that suggested performance of Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, which I’ve never heard. And I’ll be getting access to my Hamilton Philharmonic performance of the Shostakovich 8th quartet.
There won’t be anywhere to go for the next while. I’ll content myself with staying safe, and the fact that I have access to such amazing performances right here in my cozy basement. Tomorrow, there will be an SCA symposium to hang out at, and Sunday there will be Pathfinder.
Oh…and seven more weeks of The Mandalorian to look forward to.
Could be a lot worse.