Siege Diaries 12/23/2020

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Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt: If I released my tight grip on life, what would happen?

The tight grip here is on things that we cling to, but are actually destructive or keep us from realizing potential or growing in wisdom.  It’s interesting–in the midst of the pandemic, I’m seeing friends whose holiday seasons were always problematic suddenly seeming more free.  They have an excuse now to push back, to not be guilted into gatherings they’ve not wanted to attend for years.   Many of us are much more conscious this year of what is truly necessary and what is privilege.  Some of us now have a better understanding of how pain and loneliness can become a normal part of life, not by the fault of anyone’s choices, but by chance.

And I’ve been forced to release my grip on so much of my life this year, both the good parts and the not-so-good ones, and the results have been surprising.  While I have been prevented for most of this year from doing almost all of the activities I did before March 14 for fun–SCA events, games weekends with friends, concerts, and travel–sometimes two or three of these at once–I have found alternatives that have made me happy–and that may carry on well after this current situation (hopefully) abates.  After a period of a couple of months where, lacking the deadlines for creative pursuits that the SCA had always provided, my creative spark faltered except for writing and music, that creativity came roaring back and I found the will to create different kinds of things.  I’m finding fulfillment in using my somewhat-neglected editorial skills again as well for things I care deeply about.  I’ve read some amazing books.  I’ve done what was required of me in a difficult situation in a way I believe served the cause of justice.  I’ve both kept my sense of humour and sat with sorrow, giving both their due.  I’ve built stronger relationships with good friends–relationships that in normal times might and did get shunted aside for other priorities.  And I think I’ve continued to learn about myself–where I am now and where I might want to go with each precious moment of time I am granted.

*****

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I just went to the Tafelmusik sing-along Messiah.  Yes, I was watching on my computer screen, and listening on headphones, but I sang along just the same, just as I have almost every year since 2003.  (Only two years stopped me–the year of the ice storm, and the year Victoria swallowed thread and had to have emergency surgery).  I pulled my score out from the shelf (finding in the process three programs from previous years, including last year’s–sigh), and while I didn’t sing at full volume, sing I did, unselfconsciously as I get to do when I attend the in-person version.  And as usual, life was beautiful for 75 minutes or so, and I knew that another pre-holiday season was reaching a crescendo when we sang “Hallelujah”, followed by the soprano singing “I know that my Redeemer liveth.”  And so, the rhythm of the holiday season does not abate, even if we must dance within the confines of our homes, celebrating in solitude, but yet the chorus of the universe still resounds in the stillness and silence.

*****
In a normal year, we would not be eating a Keg dinner on Christmas eve.  But this year, there’s takeout, and I’ve just ordered our meal.  Alas, no prime rib–likely because that is carved from a large rib roast, and so quantities are hard to determine for something like takeout.  But there will be steak (with peppercorn sauce), garlic mashed potatoes, some roast mushrooms, and they specifically asked whether we wanted the table bread (there was no option for hell, yes!).  And there will be all of the other Christmas Eve traditions.  This has always been a day spent with just my husband and the cats and our favourite movies.

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