Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt: What are sources of unsteadiness in my life?
Welp. Funny you should ask, because outside right now we have pretty much peak unsteadiness–at least for my lifetime. There’s a pandemic, and there’s unprecedented instability in the United States.
Oddly enough, for the latter, I actually feel better than I did last week at this time. Better because of the massively negative response to the insurrection. Better because they took it too far, but not so far that there was extensive bloodshed. Better because the President is being impeached again. Better because many of the alt-right showed their cards, and while there was the odd ace in the deck–again, enough to be a concern–there were an awful lot of deuces and jokers.
But it’s hard not to worry. There are apparently armed marches (not protests) planned in every state capital in the next week or so. But this time it’s going to be much more difficult for law enforcement to claim no one knew what was being planned.
Knowledge and facts are sunshine to the darkness that helps cause this unsteadiness. In this case–as in the pandemic–becoming knowledgeable and then taking those small actions an individual can take–actions that are in our control–we, together, can change things.
I’m in that obsessive phase of an art project. I usually have a warm-up period in which I make progress slowly in the initial stages. At some point, I get far enough along that I start to see it take shape, and that gets me into a certain groove that makes me insatiably pursue it until it’s complete. I’m not going to share an in-progress photo until I get just a bit more done, perhaps tomorrow, but I’ve shared the inspirational photograph here. After completing a piece based on one of the last photographs of Shostakovich taken before his death, I went back to one taken when he was 19, a couple of days before the premiere of his Symphony no. 1. I like it for obvious other reasons–in fact, the cat was a main factor in choosing this piece. I am doing the work in shades of grey–except for the cat, which to me just jumps off the page as likely an orange cat (I mean, look at it!). Oh, and I’ve revisited a touch I used in my first Shostakovich embroidery–which I was working on one year ago, in the midst of my trip to Grand Rapids–and added colour to just his eyes as well.
At the same time, I started a large illumination project (where I now know precisely where I am going with it) and am waiting for the right idea to coalesce for me for another illumination project. But those will probably have to wait now for me to finish this new embroidery. Plus I have a project that’s jumped the queue, as it were, on the embroidery pipeline–there’s a gift exchange going over on the AskHistorianspanel subreddit, and I’ve drawn the name of a fellow medievalist who likes cats and does journaling, so an embroidered cat marginalia journal cover is being planned.
The piece at the top of today’s post is a reused piece of old stained glass, repurposed by my friend Michaela, who has taken an interest in stained glass originally kindled in the SCA to a job with a company that restores old glass and produces new works. When I saw the colours I knew I had to have it.
Meanwhile I am in the midst of the Battle of Borodino in War and Peace. About 450 pages to go now. I decided to lighten up for my next reading assignment and go for reading Gogol’s short stories. Flipping through the book, which arrived today, I was actually amazed to figure out that besides The Nose, which I know from Shostakovich, there are at least two other stories I have read at some point in the past. Looking forward to a little bit of absurdity before I tackle Dostoyevsky, which is the next “heavy Russian” on the pile (after which I will likely go read something English that’s missing on my checklist–I’m leaning towards Middlemarch at this point.. Or perhaps I should finally read Catch-22.)
The national championship college football game is happening right now–second quarter, and Alabama leads OSU 21-17. We went grocery shopping just before dinner, and I spotted a guy in an Ohio State sweatshirt and complemented him on it, unzipping my jacket to reveal my own. “O-H!” he said, to which I replied the ritual response “-I-O!” My heart may not be really in it this year, but it warmed my heart to spot a fellow Buckeye.