I saw this first on dooce.com. Perhaps you’ll find it as apt for New Year’s Eve as I do.
Something dies, something new comes into being.
If you’re lucky, you only have to start dealing with mortality when you’re old enough to have lived life a good bit. Enough for the reality of a limit to have personal sting, enough to feel the loss in a way that is commensurate with a life span, but not so much that it bruises you irreparably.
I’m at an age where the deaths of people I know come more frequently and shock less than they did ten years ago. I know the trend is only going to intensify from here on out. I don’t have children of my own, so my connection with younger generations is fairly tenuous—I’m mostly lacking counterbalance on that side of the scales of life.
This shift toward endings is painful and hard to accept. Truly acknowledging what is finite in ourselves and others is difficult. I am, nonetheless, convinced that learning this lesson is essential to a whole and grounded life. We must find our joy where we are, as we are, with those we love, while we can.
There is no better time than now.
The year’s end approaches and winter will soon consolidate its grasp. But already I’m thinking of the new year to come and wondering what change, what renewal, what fresh beginnings or new openings it will bring.
I ate noodle soup in an attempt to fend it off, but no: I have a cold.
My internet connection has also got the flu. It fades in and out capriciously. Verizon says they will look it into it. I am not hopeful.
These words and that picture have nothing to do with each other.
My OG iPhone took a header from my upside-down purse onto the pavement of the car rental return aisle in Albuquerque. Although it still worked, the smashed face was shedding glass particles and too hard to read. After four and a half years of steady use (interrupted only by the 3Gs which was stolen after only a few months), it was time to bid the old friend farewell. I had hoped to make it to the 5, but it was not to be.
My new iPhone is just fine. It’s very fast, and the display is gorgeous. But it doesn’t feel as good in the hand (hard edges versus curves) or as sturdy (glass back versus metal). I doubt I’ll have it as long. Siri, while fun and useful for some specific kinds of tasks, is still more curiosity than work-horse. I have given it the British male voice; I call him Daniel.
There’s no doubt that the camera in the iP4S is a huge improvement over earlier models. If I didn’t carry around my µ4/3 camera all the time, I’d be super-grateful for that. As it is, it’s just another bell-and-whistle I probably won’t use all that often.
And of course the price of my contract went up.
Still, I feel churlish complaining at all about this amazing piece of technology. I’m essentially carrying access to a huge proportion of human knowledge in the palm of my hand. We are living in the future, and just don’t recognize it because there are no flying cars.
One reason that people don’t see much of the world’s beauty is that a lot of it is indirect. It’s not something you notice by looking directly, head on, at an object. It’s not the object itself, it’s the effect of the object (its shadow or light, its color or weight or the shape it displaces in its surroundings).
Often it’s the context that creates the beauty. Or it’s something that seems intellectually or rationally or procedurally peripheral but is aesthetically profound. The equivalence between truth and beauty is nowhere near as simple or direct as Keats would have it. In the fully expanded truth=beauty equation, the terms use different variables and are modified by different constants.
We are first schooled to look for the beautiful thing (I’m not immune: look at the name of this blog!). Later, we can learn to look for the beautiful context, the beautiful situation, the beauty of juxtaposition, of relationship, of negative space, of the unconventional or unexpected. Instead of beauty nouns, we come to read whole sentences or paragraphs of beauty—maybe even couplets, haikus, verses.
One day, perhaps, we’ll see the whole book of life as the most beautiful thing imaginable.
Sunny Key West?
Albuquerque Southwestern style?
These are the decorative steps I climb in the chilly DC-metro area (Silver Spring, in fact) to have tasty Thai food and warming conversation with Crystal.
The festive reflections and evocation of friendship seem like a fine note for this Christmas Day.
This is not my family, but they treat me like kin. The Kolker-Borton Axis invites me to their festivities and makes me feel at home, included, and loved.
Merry Christmas to all that celebrate, and may we all—whatever our faith—find a place among people we love.
A Year Ago: Beneath Paris
These were some darned chilly birds. Their little stick-legs were shivering. They only unwound their necks long enough to give each other the eyeball briefly.
New Mexico: Florida it ain’t.
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