Siege Diaries 11/14/2020


Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt: Will I add negative thoughts on top of my troubles?

The associated meditation says, “Acceptance isn’t passive.  It’s the first step in an active process toward self-improvement.”  It also mentions that events are objective; how we describe them is on us.  The writing prompt mentions “troubles.”  The implication is that you can accept that there are troubles, and that by doing so you can hopefully move beyond negative thoughts, or at least say “I accept that this is troubling me.  What can I do right now to deal with that?”  The idea here is to build resiliency or flexibility–the ability to spring back when bent by the vagaries of fate.   And this, more than anything, is probably what’s keeping me sane right now.  I allow myself the occasional chance to mourn for what I cannot have right now, and to admit that I would like it to be otherwise, but it’s not something I can change.  Likewise, I cannot change the reaction of anyone else to current events, and spending too much time raging at the lack of consideration of others is a waste of my time and energy–and a sure conduit into frustration and anger.  

Today was a day of online classes that I helped coordinate by finding teachers, and it turned out to be a great deal of fun.  I parked myself in front of the computer for the day, grabbed my embroidery project, and learned about Purgatory (which–no big surprise to me–was crystallized as a concept in the 13th century), watched three friends talk about scientific methods used for arts and sciences research and experimentation, and then, finally, had a nifty primer about mordants as used in dyeing–a topic I knew a bit about, but had never had a class on.  In between the two last classes, I ran over to Firehouse to grab subs, which took a surprisingly long time and made me nearly 10 minutes late for the last class–but the sub was tasty, at least.  

Then was my prepurchased Hamilton Philharmonic performance of a concert programme including the Shostakovich Quartet no. 8–which the performers, who are not (to my knowledge) a regular string quartet, performed quite effectively, particularly the cellist and the first violinist.  But there were some other very intriguing works presented as well, including some Bach for solo violin and two very intriguing contemporary works by Vincent Ho and Reena Esmail.  The later relied on the classical Indian raga or raag known as Charukesi, associated with “pathos and devotion.”  As I learned just tonight, raga are somewhat akin to Western musical scales or modes, but are much more numerous and varied (containing different numbers of notes, for instance). There was also some glorious Prokofiev, a Sonata for Two Violins, premiered in 1932 by two violinists instantly recognizable to me –  Dmitry Tsyganov and Vladimir Shirinsky of the Beethoven Quartet, the same quartet favoured by Shostakovich for his quartet premieres.  I thought this time I’d give Prokofiev some love–he is my third-favourite Russian-born composer, after Shostakovich and Stravinsky, after all, and I quite enjoyed this work.  And I was happy to support my local orchestra.

I don’t know why, but in the past couple of days I’ve had the urge to indulge in a little nostalgia and listen to some “beautiful music” from my childhood days. This is the stuff commonly known as Muzak or elevator music; I’ve written about it before. It has its charms, much in the same way that process cheese food (“Velveeta”) does for making grilled cheese sandwiches. It certainly brings back memories of avocado green appliances, smocked dresses, bright orange Barbie campers, and those “digital” clock radios with the flip mechanisms. Maybe it just reminds me of my mom.