“I am half agony, half hope.” ~ Jane Austen, from Persuasion

Aurora over Grøtfjorden, Norway
by Tor Even Mathisen


“But for pain words are lacking. There should be cries, cracks, fissures, whiteness passing over chintz covers, interference with the sense of time, of space; the sense also of extreme fixity in passing objects; and sounds very remote and then very close; flesh being gashed and blood spurting, a joint suddenly twisted—beneath all of which appears something very important, yet remote, to be just held in solitude.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from The Waves

Tuesday, late afternoon. A bit warmer, low 50’s.

Northern Lights over Murphy Dome, Alaska, by Taro Nakai CC
Northern Lights over Murphy Dome, Alaska
by Taro Nakai (CC)

So the past two days have been spent in lots of cleaning. On Sunday, Corey helped me to take down Christmas, which included the tree, my Santa collection, my snowman collection, and various other decorations. Each time we thought we’d gotten everything, we found one more piece. Everything is finally packed and ready to go to storage. What I wouldn’t give for a large attic or basement.

After, the house was quite dusty, and glitter was in odd places, which meant furniture polishing, sweeping, and various other things. Corey still needs to vacuum the carpeted places, and I need to clean the fish bowls, but everything else is done. I even did my desk, sorted the junk mail, and cleaned out some files.

I got a label maker as one of my Christmas presents, which might sound odd, but I asked for it, and if you knew my penchant for office supplies, you wouldn’t find this weird at all. So last night I was still in full-blown OCD clean mode, so I used my label maker to create some new files and to condense others. Sweet. I now have a nice, small pile of things needing attention, and Corey, even thought he didn’t really want one, now has a to-do file and a list next to his laptop.

“Perhaps then, some day far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

By the time I forced myself to stop, I hurt all over. I woke up with very sore legs in addition to the expected back aches and knots. But at least I feel a sense of accomplishment.

Northern Lights over Finland by timo_w2s CC
Northern Lights over Finland
by timo_w2s (CC)

Night before last Corey got very sick. He had told me that he felt like he had a rock in his stomach; then he threw up all over the kitchen floor. I didn’t know until after, which is silly. It’s not like I haven’t cleaned up other people’s puke a thousand other times. Anyway, afterwards, we decided to watch something calming, so I suggested Pride and Prejudice, with Kiera Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen. It’s such a good movie. If you like period dramas and haven’t seen this, you should watch it.

He was just fine by yesterday, and he made a delicious pot of homemade vegetable soup, which made everyone feel better.

The two of us have been trying to catch up on all of the shows I recorded for him while he was gone. Most recently we’ve been watching “Luther,” with Idris Elba, who I love. The show is on BBC America as part of their Dramaville series. It’s such a well-written and well-acted show. I have realized that I could pretty much live with just two television channels: BBC America and ID. Oh, wait. There’s PBS, of course. Kind of sad, really, to define my life through television channels, not that I actually do.

Once we finish “Luther,” the only thing left on the queue is “Copper,” another BBC America show.

“I bear the wounds of all the battles I avoided.” ~ Fernando Pessoa

Olivia was officially six months old on the 6th. Wow. She has changed so much from the tiny little thing with dark hair when she was born. She truly is the happiest baby I’ve ever been around. None of my babies were like that. I’m really hoping that she stays that way—happy.  I am amazed by how easily she laughs and smiles with her whole face. Being around her really calms me.

Northern Lightsby Varjisakka (CC)
Northern Lights
by Varjisakka (CC)

Smiling has never come easily to me. Always so serious, even now. I wonder, is it genetics? Socialization? What defines a person’s disposition? Actually, I would imagine that people can be born happy and easy-going and then something happens to change them to make them morose and dispirited, but I wonder if the reverse is true, if an individual who is born very serious can have something happen that then changes the entire outlook on life, makes it easy to laugh and smile and remain upbeat? I just don’t see that happening.

I mean, I’m not serious all of the time, and I can laugh and smile and be happy, but I don’t see anything happening to make me be easy with life. Easy I guess is the best word. Easy as in comfortable, carefree, better able to let things roll and to roll with things.

Yes, I have definitely mellowed as I have grown older. I am not nearly so quick to anger, and I actually do avoid some confrontations. I don’t dwell as much on the major slights that have happened along the way. All of this is good. But still, I am not easy-going, and I am not easy with life.

“I’ve cried, and you’d think I’d be better for it, but the sadness just sleeps, and it stays in my spine the rest of my life.” ~ Conor Oberst

I don’t often use song lyrics for my section header quotes, but this one? This one is spot on. Seriously.

Northern Lights, Tromso, Norway by GuideGunnar Arctic Norway FCC
Northern Lights, Tromso, Norway
by GuideGunnar Arctic Norway (FCC)

I know that I’ve mentioned more than once ancient theories about illness and medicine, the humours, etc., but if I were living hundred of years ago, well, for one thing, I’d probably be dead. But aside from that, my back pain? Does it not make sense that I carry around this constant back pain because I have sadness in my spine? Because I carry around all of the sadness of my life inside, and then outside, it manifests itself as actual pain?

Waxing a bit philosophic, I know, but when I came across this lyric from a Bright Eyes’ song, it really struck home. Perhaps I’m just rationalizing again, but I don’t think so. I know that I have an ancient sensibility in a lot of ways, that the ways in which I view various things doesn’t exactly scream contemporary. Yet, I am a walking contradiction. I live in the past and the present. I crave the past, some of the past, and yet other parts I would not reclaim for anything.

How do we end up here? I have no answers.

“…throw roses into the abyss.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

I also do not use a lot of quotes by Nietzsche because he was such a misogynist. However, if I were to apply that logic to all of the people I quote here, I would not be able to use most of them, because as is the case with just about anyone, everyone has his or her bad parts; it’s just that some bad parts are easier to overlook than others.

For example, Rilke was an unconscionable human being, an anti-Semite, a philanderer, and many other less-than-flattering things, but his poetry seems almost ethereal in its stark beauty. So do I shun quotes from Rilke’s works because I truly cannot abide the person he was? Obviously, I haven’t as my posts are peopled with Rilke’s words and worlds.

Kattovouma Northern Lights by apgroner FCC
Northern Lights, Kattovuoma, Sweden
by apgroner (FCC)

Other examples include Gandhi and Mother Theresa, both of whom could be particularly cruel. But their writings? Seemingly from saints.

This is the crux, essentially, in using other people’s words. What do we ignore, and what do we highlight? Personally, I choose to use the products of most of these people. Who am I to judge, yet judge, I do. Constantly. Scrupulously. Yet I pick and choose from this and that and place it here as some kind of totem for my words that follow.

Look. I only know this. If someone were ever to analyze my life (and I find the prospect highly unlikely), the person revealed would be a mixture of bad and good. No, no one could claim that I’m anti-Semitic, or racist, or sexist. But they could say that I have been cruel, that I have hurt people, that I have been judgmental, that I have curried favor, and on and on and on and on.

I don’t like the historical Nietzsche. I don’t like the histories of many, many people. But in most cases, I overlook that because their words, even though the speakers themselves were not always true to them, their words touch me, move me, rally me, comfort me, and so I pass them along to you, hoping that you might have the same reaction.

We are, all of us, fate’s fools, simply balancing on the edge as best we can.

More later. Peace.

(Images today of Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis  (another thing on my bucket list, can’t remember if I included), are all creative commons works.)

Music by Nina Simone, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”


II, 11 (The Book of Hours)

No one lives his life.

Disguised since childhood,
haphazardly assembled
from voices and fears and little pleasures,
we come of age as masks.

Our true face never speaks.

Somewhere there must be storehouses
where all these lives are laid away
like suits of armor or old carriages
or clothes hanging limply on the walls.

Maybe all paths lead there,
to the repository of unlived things.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke