Saturday, January 11, 2014

Ghosts of Christmas Past

There's a saying you've probably heard, attributed to either Dr. Seuss or Gabriel García Márquez, or perhaps it's an old Zen saying, that goes "Don't cry because it's over, be glad it happened." Today we took down the Christmas tree. I had to keep repeating that saying to myself, especially when I came across the "Baby's First Christmas" ornament. That's been around for quite a while. Children grow up, we age, life goes on, next Christmas is only 11 months away.

Christmas tree All gone now
All gone now   © harrington

As I've been working my way through the transition from recovering planner to poet, photographer and writer, I've been reading a number of views from published authors about what a writer is and/or a writer's responsibility to readers. One that starts out as a really good fit with how I want to be as a writer comes from Susan Sontag. She is quoted as having said "A writer, I think, is someone who pays attention to the world." I'm working on and learning to pay a lot more attention than I used to. It's enjoyable. However, she goes on "That means trying to understand, take in, connect with, what wickedness human beings are capable of; and not be corrupted — made cynical, superficial — by this understanding." I've got lots of room for improvement on that part. That gives me lots of good reasons to continue with my efforts to become a good writer. Perhaps, if I had worked harder at being a writer years ago, I wouldn't have become as "corrupted." But, remember, the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now. (Old Chinese saying?)

Christmas ornament Taken down and put away
Taken down and put away       © harrington

One of the benefits of paying attention is that I've learned a lot more about where I live and discovered things I care about to share with you. I expect that to continue. Things like learning which trees are growing on the property, how to find the entrance to Wild River State Park, and interesting but not so important things (to me) such as the fact that world famous actor Richard Widmark comes from Sunrise. Looking at Mary Robinson's assessment, there's a lot of things that don't seem to change, whether or not we pay attention. Compare this poem with tomorrow's New York Times (I've got to work on that "corruption.")

January, 1795

By Mary Robinson 

Pavement slipp’ry, people sneezing,
Lords in ermine, beggars freezing;
Titled gluttons dainties carving,
Genius in a garret starving.

Lofty mansions, warm and spacious;
Courtiers cringing and voracious;
Misers scarce the wretched heeding;
Gallant soldiers fighting, bleeding.

Wives who laugh at passive spouses;
Theatres, and meeting-houses;
Balls, where simp’ring misses languish;
Hospitals, and groans of anguish.

Arts and sciences bewailing;
Commerce drooping, credit failing;
Placemen mocking subjects loyal;
Separations, weddings royal.

Authors who can’t earn a dinner;
Many a subtle rogue a winner;
Fugitives for shelter seeking;
Misers hoarding, tradesmen breaking.

Taste and talents quite deserted;
All the laws of truth perverted;
Arrogance o’er merit soaring;
Merit silently deploring.

Ladies gambling night and morning;
Fools the works of genius scorning;
Ancient dames for girls mistaken,
Youthful damsels quite forsaken.

Some in luxury delighting;
More in talking than in fighting;
Lovers old, and beaux decrepid;
Lordlings empty and insipid.

Poets, painters, and musicians;
Lawyers, doctors, politicians:
Pamphlets, newspapers, and odes,
Seeking fame by diff’rent roads.

Gallant souls with empty purses;
Gen’rals only fit for nurses;
School-boys, smit with martial spirit,
Taking place of vet’ran merit.

Honest men who can’t get places,
Knaves who shew unblushing faces;
Ruin hasten’d, peace retarded;
Candor spurn’d, and art rewarded.

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Thanks for listening. Come again when you can. Rants, raves and reflections served here daily. And, since I seem to have neglected this thus far, have a great 2014!