Siege Diaries 4/28/2021


Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt:  What power does all my wanting take from me? 

The meditation for today had in mind material wants–the kind money can buy.  But during the pandemic, buying stuff has not been at the forefront.  No, my wants have been different–I’ve wanted things to be different.  I’ve longed for time with friends–yes, the bigger events for sure, but especially the little everyday moments even moreso.  I have the money to pay for concerts, but no concerts to pay for. I have the money to take a trip, but trips are not possible.  I think many people struggled with these wants, and many still struggle.  The reason I have managed to stay sane is that I have learned to not want what I haven’t got (to quote the Sinead O’Connor song).  Or rather, I’ve learned to focus on the things I do have and can have right now.  And there are many of these things, very few of which involve much money or yearning for material things at all.  

So the wanting?  In the early days, it took my joy.  It took my creativity.  There were days I got up and honestly thought for a few minutes, “I can’t do this any more.”  Here I was, in a position of relative privilege, with a stable work-from-home possible job with a paid-for roof over my head, caught up in despair.  I’m not saying that despair is not real, or permissible–because it is both–but that I had tools in my toolkit to make the best of the situation.   What I’ve tried to do is balance out the wanting with the having. 

I spend at least eight or nine hours a day sitting in a chair in my basement office.  So when I got the points at work from my 15-year anniversary and was looking through the catalogue at possible things to get, the gaming chairs leapt out at me.  The old chair was looking a bit worse for wear, with cracks appearing in its leather, so I had been starting to consider a replacement at some point anyway.  And none of the other options really appealed–the selection of jewellery was much less this time than for my 10th anniversary, and even if there had been more to choose from, I’m not sure I would have gone that direction. So I decided to go for the chair.  It arrived today (I only ordered it last Friday, so pretty impressed).  The first thing I noticed was how heavy the box was–this is a substantial chair!  Took me about 35 minutes to put together, mostly spent on figuring out the very first step.   I’ve been sitting in it now for most of the last three hours, and I really like it.  The lumbar support is nice, and it’s designed like a race car seat, so it’s aesthetically pleasing as well.

Today I finally finished watching the Latin recitation video and then went on to view another one with a poem in a different metre.  Now comes the fun part–I have to finalize my choice of poems and do the work of marking out the metre.  I’m now considering finding something in elegiac couplets because I was rather fascinated at the feel of dactylic pentameter (used in the second half of a couplet).   That can wait a day or two.   I’m still a little on the tired side two days post vaccine, although at around 90% today.

And because I was reminded of it today, here is Beethoven’s ‘Hammerklavier’ sonata. It’s called that not because of the percussive effects in it (although there are those), but because it was one of the first sonatas specifically written for hammerklavier, or to give it its more common name, pianoforte– the modern piano. (Granted, the piano still had further development to come.)  It was not apparently actually publicly performed in Beethoven’s lifetime–it’s that hard.  And when it finally was, it was Liszt who did it.