Siege Diaries 2/22/2021


Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt: Am I certain what I want to say isn’t better left unsaid?

The key to this one is to make everything you do say worth saying. And that requires thought.  It often involves listening.  It often involves silence, but yet if it’s worth saying, it demands being said.    Developing that judgement is a work of maturity. 

A quote from the Buddha expresses my own thoughts:

Monks, a statement endowed with five factors is well-spoken, not ill-spoken. It is blameless & unfaulted by knowledgeable people. Which five?

It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will.

A statement endowed with these five factors is well-spoken, not ill-spoken. It is blameless & unfaulted by knowledgeable people.

(Personal footnote:  Of course I like that there are five factors.)


More snow overnight, but the temperature was well above freezing today, so melting is everywhere.  After a busy day, including teaching a Teams workshop and grocery shopping, I had a nice nap after dinner and then finally got the research for the trivia questions for our International Women’s Day done.  I also finished up a book of essays on various aspects of the life and work of Shostakovich, and the final one concerned his love for the works of Chekhov, and in particular the short story “The Black Monk,” which he apparently greatly desired to turn into an opera at the end of his life.  Having a book of Chekhov’s short stories at hand, of course, I had to read it, and can see why he loved the story, about a man who discovers true happiness only while in the grips of madness, only to have it all die away when he is treated.  It’s a rather amazing story, and particularly because Shostakovich saw the outlines of what he knew as “sonata form” in music in its composition–which is what the article I read addressed.  It was well worth the half and hour I took to read it.

And I don’t know why, but I’ve been itching to find a performance of Shostakovich’s piano sonata no. 1 online so I could see it played, and this video does not disappoint.  This is a very early piece and a very fast rendition, and I wished they’d just focused on the pianist’s hands the entire time because it’s absolutely mesmerizing.