Siege Diaries 7/24/2021

Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt: Can I keep my cool when receiving disturbing news?

The associated meditation really drives home the point: If you can do something about a piece of bad news, do it. Thoughts and prayers? Handwringing? Your emotions are better focused on those things you can do something about.

CBC is currently playing all of Arcade Fire’s The Surburbs, start to finish. Those lyrics hit hard a decade ago, as I thought about my own upbringing in the titular suburbs, but they’re hitting particularly hard right now. Particularly this one:

Now that San Francisco’s gone
I guess I’ll just pack it in
Wanna wash away my sins
In the presence of my friends

You and I, we head back East
To find a town where we can live
Even in the half light
We can see that something’s gotta give

When we watched the markets crash
The promises we made were torn
Then my parents sent for me
From out West where I was born

Some people say we’ve already lost
But they’re afraid to pay the cost for what we’ve lost
Pay the cost for what we’ve lost

Now that you have left me here
I will never raise my voice
All the diamonds you have here
In this home which has no life

Oh, this city’s changed so much
Since I was a little child
Pray to God I won’t live to see
The death of everything that’s wild (Woo!)

Though we knew this day would come
Still it took us by surprise
In this town where I was born
I now see through a dead man’s eyes

One day they will see it’s long gone
One day they will see it’s long gone
One day they will see it’s long gone
One day they will see it’s long gone

Was this how this felt like?

I got into my car today and drove to a concert. That feeling, driving through the countryside to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Shostakovich on blast, VeRA spotted in the air–yes, that. The freedom of the road, the countryside, the warm wind. I arrived and sat in a beautiful garden, a pond where paper boats played behind me, and listened to Mozart and Gershwin played by a string quartet, accompanied by birds, the buzzing of insects, the metallic trill of a cicada.

And the Mozart served up a little reminder to me, in the 18th measure, of Dmitri Shostakovich, in the use of a little four-note figure Shostakovich would someday adopt as his personal motif.

The Gershwin–his Lullabye–was also lovely, and perfect, and evocative.

I walked the streets of Niagara-on-the-Lake afterwards, bought a hat, an ice cream (raspberry chocolate ripple–not bad, but not Graeters, either), and a gyro.

I sat in a beautiful garden, watching kids play in a fountain, taking photos of flowers. I have ached for this for months, and it seemed so normal. I’m not sure it can ever quite be again, because I am acutely aware of what a gift and a privilege it is to be able to do these things. I’ll certainly be back to the next one of these next month, and we’ll see if we can arrange tickets to one of the swing/jazz concerts they’re also doing.

I am so glad I had this, just for a few hours, a tiny glimpse of the joy of music travel.


I’m taking a break at the moment from the scroll for the scribal challenge. I have the bulk of the illumination done and will be moving on to the calligraphy shortly.