there are so many sleepless nights when she longs for the unexamined life
everything seems beside the point,
but i don’t know what the point is
right now: is it that everything matters, or is it that nothing matters?
All kinds of unnatural conditions are developing daily among us, in such a way that man ceases to feel any longer that he is in every respect a being that belongs to nature and to himself, and becomes more and more a creature submissive to society.
from The Wisdom of Albert Schweitzer, A Selection printed in 1968
All of my computer files are gone.
This is not a poem, or my usual thoughts to 70’s music on an afternoon drive. My computer died and the files are gone.
The main lesson here is that my usual way of dealing with technology, which is not dealing with technology, is not a good idea (apparently I needed a catastrophic incident to actually understand this). After running through the sequence of disbelief, anger, remorse, and sorrow upon learning that all of my work of the past 6 years is gone, I am left with an existential lesson of impermanence.
I am left wondering, so what?
My work for my clients can (mostly) be recreated. My writing, for the blog and otherwise, can also be recreated if not exactly as it was, in a new and maybe even a better way. The writing is not for posterity after all, it is for the experience, for the visual pairing of photos with words; the release of creativity set free into the world.
Photos that my son took in Cambodia, in Nova Scotia, Canada, Pennsylvania, Arizona, California, are all gone. Those photos can’t be recreated exactly, but again, the lesson of all that is fluidly impermanent rattles our reality.
So I am forced to look at this dilemma through philosophical eyes:
Everyone makes mistakes and all is temporary after all.
i tell my children this:
the beauty of decay
“What do you do?” he asked with wide-eyed anticipation.
“Well, I straighten the living room every morning and clean the kitchen several times a day. I take the puppy out every hour, which is no small task because there are 32 steps per trip. I go to the grocery store and contemplate my purchases of milk, peach iced tea, pop tarts and cereal, hoping it reflects nothing upon my mothering skills. I take pictures of sunsets and pine cones and random leaves in the rain. I laugh with my teen-aged children and find myself wanting to shellac them in place to this very time when I know where they sleep and they’re warm in my house. I write little snippets of thoughts that I don’t call poetry but sometimes can be seen as poetic. Every evening, I listen for the train and it brings me comfort. I share jokes with my husband and miss him when he’s working away from us. Sometimes I make scrambled eggs for breakfast. Occasionally I draw on rocks or cut butterflies out of white paper. I drive with the windows down and Tom Petty playing in the background. I drink coffee with generous amounts of sugar and milk. I clean the bathrooms and don’t particularly enjoy that task although I don’t mind running the vacuum as much as I mind doing the laundry.”
Glassy-eyed and frightened, he walked away.
If I’d have said, “graphic designer” would that have told him what he wanted to know?
Recently, I was asked , “What makes you special?”
My first peaceful thought was simply, “nothing”.
And my second, “Does that make me special?”