Sunday, April 24, 2011

Weighty Cosmic Ponderings

I have gone all introverted lately.  I have given myself permission to set aside my sense of humour for a while to ponder the weighty matters of life.  I feel that it's appropriate to do so "for a season", to borrow the Christian phrase.  Of course this makes me phenomenally boring and self-obsessed.  It's not a state of mind that is conducive to blogging.

To sum it all up with minimal loathsomeness: Though I am aware that life is a constant cycle of death and rebirth, every loss leading eventually to some type of gain, lately I've been feeling like everything is rapidly dropping off the end of a swift and merciless treadmill.  There have been a lot of changes lately (at work, with my health, with friends and family), and more changes coming up on the horizon, that all seem to be on the loss side of the equation.  Normally I think I'm pretty good at taking life as it comes, with a reasonable amount of acceptance, but I got overwhelmed and now I can't seem to help fighting against the changes.  Of course one can't win that kind of fight.  I just end up feeling helpless and exhausted.

One thing I never thought about when it comes to aging: everyone around you ages all at once.  That sucks!  I always thought I could age gracefully, and accept my parents' aging, etc.  Thinking about each person aging and eventually dying one at a time wasn't so bad.  It seemed natural and bittersweet.  But you don't get to deal with it one person at a time.  The whole parade of people I care about are all marching towards the cliff's edge, and although it might seem stupid it's something that only struck me recently.  My beloved friend Val had a stroke last week.  It was minor and she will fully recover, but yikes!  Not to mention she revealed to me that she could drop dead without warning at any time from a brain aneurysm, due to the way things are set up inside her body.


So anyway I've gone all emo and am grappling with issues of mortality, existential angst, and too much time spent listening to the news, which makes the entire world seem constantly embroiled in horrible catastrophes.  I suppose it's an appropriate mid-life crisis, and I'll get through it eventually, when I can work through to some kind of more peaceful acceptance of Everything.

Yesterday helped.  I went downtown and met a friend for lunch.  It was raining and chilly when I left my house.  By the time we paid our bill, the sky was a brilliant blue and the restaurant had propped their doors open to let a warm breeze waft through the dining room.  I packed around 20 pounds worth of now-unnecessary warm clothing  layers into my bag, and we set out on a gorgeous walk.  I managed to heroically walk and shop, carrying this stupidly heavy bag, for several hours.   This is a good sign.  It means I'm physically stronger than I thought.

Spending relaxed, quality time with my friend was lovely.  However, the most remarkable event of the day took place on the subway train on my way downtown.  I took a seat near a man with a violin case at his feet.  One stop later, a family got on with two young boys, aged around 3 and 5, who were fussing and bored.  The violin man took out his violin.  First he quietly plucked "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star".  The smallest boy sang along.  Then he took up his bow and played "Old MacDonald Had A Farm".  He got a smattering of applause at the end.  He went back to Twinkle Twinkle and played it, this time with two-string harmony and all sorts of fancy little embellishments.  More people were getting on at each stop.  A crowd gathered round, smiling, oohing and aahing, and encouraging him with applause.

Pretty soon the violinist stood up and treated us to a beautiful mini-concert.  He was good, too.  Really good.  His tuning was absolutely perfect, his timing and dynamics creative in a way that gave each piece character.  He was obviously a musician all the way from the soles of his shoes to the calluses on his fingers.  It was amazing to be there for that spontaneous concert; to witness how music powerfully shifted the mood on the car from glum boredom to engaged happiness.  That man made everyone's day by doing what he obviously loves to do.  It was a splendid creative act.  It gave me faith that not everything is dropping off the end of the treadmill.


DarcKnyt said...

I love impromptu concerts by talented people. I used to run with a crowd of them and you never knew exactly when or where they'd strike up the band. It certainly made life more interesting.

LL Cool Joe said...

It's amazing the way one person can suddenly make life seem more bearable.

I hear you about people around us ageing. I'm facing that with both my parents and mother-in-law at the moment and it sucks.

Jameil said...

I know what you mean. I'm dealing very poorly with things not going my way... but I decided to find something to laugh about daily. I kind of forgot until just now.

Sparkling Red said...

DarcKnyt: It always makes me wish that I were that kind of musician. I would love to bring that kind of good energy to the world.

LL Cool Joe: Isn't it lovely when one person can lift your spirits without it costing anything to either of you? Spontaneous, contagious joy.

Jameil: Laughing is so important. I have to watch myself, though, because when things get rough sometimes I go to the bitter, sarcastic laugh, and that's not good. I'd rather quit laughing for a while, until I can laugh right again.

Jenski said...

Sounds like spring weather!! When I am dealing with life poorly for long periods of time, I feel bad when I am suddenly happy, as if it is not fair to others to be so moody. Then I set myself straight. I figure you can't be expected to deal well and be happy all the time and funks must end at some point. Maybe your body is healing and you will have the energy to attend to your emotional needs.

G said...

Sometimes we find serenity in the most unlikeliest of places.

kenju said...

I would have given anything to be there for that impromptu concert! How nice of him.

DarcsFalcon said...

I like the treadmill visual. I always used a river. Kinda similar. :)

Sometimes you just have to go through that phase of cosmic ponderings. It helps one's perspective on things. I'm sorry about your friend's stroke, but glad she will recover.

The impromptu concert sounds awesome! The violin is gorgeous, isn't it? :D

A blessed Easter to you and yours Spark. :)

Lynn said...

That violin event was a sign that life is beautiful. I love that story - thank you for sharing it.

It reminded me of two little boys who got on our city commuter train one morning with their mom and suitcases. They were heading to the airport with their destination being the beach. One of them looked around smiling and asked his mom, "Is this the beach?" It made everyone smile and I was thinking what a wonderful time he had in store at the beach.

Pixiebaby said...

I can completely understand your mindset lately. For different reasons of course, but the feeling you described I get. So glad you got your sign the other day! Thank you Mr. Violin Man :)

Sparkling Red said...

Jenski: Truly, being happy all the time is an unrealistic expectation. We all need to have our dark nights of the soul once in a while.

G: Yup, it sure was unexpected to find gorgeousness on the subway!

Kenju: I wish you could have been there. :-)

DarcsFalcon: Maybe I should try picturing a river instead of a treadmill. At least it's natural, and can be a beautiful, peaceful thing. Drifting along a river's not so bad.

Lynn: That's adorable! Little kids are the best.

Pixiebaby: A certain amount of appropriate grief deepens one's personality, so long as there's no wallowing. I think you and I are pretty strict with ourselves when it comes to wallowing!

Pixiebaby said...

Yes you're definitely right about our being strict with the wallowing! :)