Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt: Are you saying no enough?
Once again, I’ll take a detour to the associated meditation today, which focuses on protecting your mental boundaries. A friend of mine first used the phrase “Don’t let other people live rent-free in your head” many years ago, and since then I’ve always kept that in mind. I also seem to have a well-developed radar for understanding when I’m approaching overcommitment. When it comes to activities on my time, I also have mostly avoided burnout by either choosing activities where I dictate the involvement and the schedule, or those with defined terms of service. If it’s an activity purely for myself, I stop when it isn’t fun or I’m not learning anymore. Sometimes that’s just a short pause, sometimes longer. In the late 90s, I stopped SCA rapier fighting as I pressed to finish my PhD thesis, but also because I had lost all joy in it after political issues arose. I decided it had low priority, and so dropped it–as it turns out, permanently. I attempted a brief comeback a little over ten years ago, but that was squelched when I failed my authorization bout. Again–it suddenly was more work than fun, I decided I had other activities that were more important to me, and I never put on the gear again. I put my practice into archery, and subsequently improved my skills significantly on the range.
I had planned to watch a performance of the Mendelssohn Octet that was being streamed to TSO subscribers today at 7 pm. Remembered to check my email to confirm the time–and holy cats, it was happening at 5 pm! I joined at 5:05, just as the introduction was wrapping up, not 15 seconds before the performance began. Lovely piece–Mendelssohn composed it when he was 16, and it reminded me I have a particular affinity for the early Romantic composers that I perhaps should follow up on a little more. (Right now, Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony is in my mind as an earworm, even though I don’t think I’ve heard it in years).
I also am working on a muslin of my vest pattern–and good thing I did, too, because it’s going to need to be adjusted. It’s fitting a bit oddly across the bust. The back looks perfect, as does the waist area, but it seems to be not wanting to meet up properly at the top, while having some odd excess of fabric along the centre front seams. Nothing I can’t figure out, though. In the meantime, I do have an approximate simulation of what I’ll have to work with, space-wise. And since I’ve put aside the idea of embroidering right into the fabric in favour of working the embroidery on another fabric and then appliqueing it to the vest, I should be able to start fairly soon on the embroidery, once I finalize what designs I will be using.
Dave and I also successfully had a talk about “the future”–as in plans for– that didn’t end up with either of us depressed or frustrated, as has happened a couple of times earlier in the pandemic. He’s frustrated with the fact that his palette of things he can do while we’re more or less stuck at home is much smaller than mine. I get frustrated at trying to make concrete plans for anything while the future of, well, the whole damn world isn’t clear. I’m much happier finding fulfillment in things I am doing now–and I have a lot more of them to choose from, from embroidery projects to goofy scavenger hunts to scribal work to reading to livestreamed concerts to research projects–and that’s just a few of them. I’m kind of enjoying the time to work on some different things; there will be a time hopefully in the next year when some of the older activities will resume, but I’m not going to pine away waiting for them. As the Stoics I’ve been reading are so fond of pointing out, life is short–too short to spend bemoaning what I–or no one–has right now.
Today I finished off the very last touches of a calligraphy project, which I can’t share as it’s still a secret. But I can share an image I added when presented with some leftover space–the image above. I then mailed it off, after having had to wait in a massive line at the postal outlet at Shoppers. At least I was able to get bananas and raspberries there, along with securing boxes of my traditional holiday chocolates (Guylain seashells and Turtles).
On that note, I just finished Ghost Variations, and before that A Gentleman in Moscow. Both of them were novels set against history during the modern period I love–the first half of the 20th century, particularly the inter-war period, but the former was essentially a fictionalization of actual events, while the latter had completely fictional characters set against a historical backdrop. I enjoyed them both, but the twistiness of A Gentleman in Moscow (the story of an aristocrat sentenced to permanent house arrest at a Moscow hotel in the early years post-Revolution) was rather magical, and kept me reading and guessing until the end. I knew, more or less, the end of Ghost Variations (the story of the rediscovery of the Schumann violin concerto–but more properly, the story of the woman who helped drive that rediscovery through alleged “spirit guidance”, and who eventually gave the UK premiere of the work) so for me its interest was more in the historical aspects–but the author did do a good job bringing the main character to life. I now have a novel of a very different kind, a fantasy novel called Uprooted that comes highly recommended by several friends, one of whom called it “the best fantasy since Tolkien”.