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Montecristo Captain Quixote

montecristo

The World Line of the Horizon Star

Some would say I was a lost man in a lost world


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Montecristo Captain Quixote
montecristo

Time is the fire in which we burn.

Friday was Mom's birthday. I called her while I was on the way to work. She asked me what I wanted. I told her I called to wish her happy birthday and she gave me a "D'Oh!" like she'd forgotten. Cell phones are one of my favorite techno-toys. It's so good to have instant communcation at my hip at all times, even though I don't really use it for much. I've always hated the idea of walking out of my house and locking the door just as the phone started ringing. Now I don't even have to think about it.

I've been feeling kind of blue today, and I haven't really been able to pin down a reason, but I suspect all of this stuff is kind of weighing on my mind. It was not a day of accomplishment. Eh, I needed some down-time anyway. I spent most of today reading and messing around with my MP3's, interspersed with some very light housework kind of stuff. Tomorrow I have to put in a little time at work. That software on which I am working is still not ready to ship and we need to get the thing ready for final testing by Monday. There is still one little problem in it. I've also got to give Robert a call and see if he wants to discuss some McGuffin work. We're kind of in a holding pattern until the end of the year, but we are still trying to prepare things to talk to some people who might have money and a talent for putting together tech companies. We're going to need all the help we can get.

I suppose I am also down about my trip to Chillicothe. It will be good to see my family again though. It's been five years since I saw any relative other than my brother for one evening recently, and my wife and kids, face to face. I'm kind of excited about seeing family, and the possiblility that I can look up some friends both old and new while I'm there. I talked to Will this evening on Yahoo to get his address so I could send him a Christmas card. It turns out that he will be in Chillicothe on Thursday as well! Cool! That did much to improve my mood. We have tennatively made plans to go to Jerry's Pizza, him and his fiancee, my brother and his wife, and me and play catch-up.

The only thing I am dreading about this trip is the state of my grandmother. Mom has gently insinuated that Granny has gone downhill quite a bit and looks pretty bad. Heh. Aging is such an insult to the beauty of human flesh. I've seen pictures of my grandparents, taken in the thirties. They were quite an extraordinary couple. My grandmother was young and quite a looker. She was also full of mischief -- you could see it in her eyes and her smile. My grandfather was also quite the suave and debonair-looking guy as well. It was amazing to see such pictures. They looked so much as if they had stepped out of some black and white nineteen thirties romantic comedy. I spoke with my father also this afternoon, on web cam. He's aging too. Sometimes, it creeps me out, although I usually remain in the here and now. It is silly to dwell upon the last year of life as if it were more significant than the part you're living now. Nevertheless, sometimes I do, and it is on these occasions when I do feel lonely, and I did today, when most of the time my solitary habit does not bother me.

It still feels weird to think of Granny as being "terminal." She's quite a remarkable woman, as I have written before, and it seems strange to contemplate the world of tomorrow, which will exist without her in it. I question what will life be like when my parents are gone. I thought I had an answer to that, once upon a time, but that answer was a foolish assumption, as it turns out. Life seems so fleeting and unpredictable sometimes.

This whole train of thought reminds me of a poem I found once. I was searching for a reference to the line in the subject. I was sure I had heard it before, when I heard it in a Star Trek movie: "Star Trek: Generations". Most people no doubt believe that the line is original from the script, but it isn't. It's from a poem called "Calmly We Walk Through This April Day" written in 1937 by a poet named Delmore Schwartz.

Calmly We Walk Through This April Day
Delmore Schwartz


Calmly we walk through this April's day,
Metropolitan poetry here and there,
In the park sit pauper and rentier,
The screaming children, the motor-car
Fugitive about us, running away,
Between the worker and the millionaire
Number provides all distances,
It is Nineteen Thirty-Seven now,
Many great dears are taken away,
What will become of you and me
(This is the school in which we learn...)
Besides the photo and the memory?
(...that time is the fire in which we burn.)

(This is the school in which we learn...)
What is the self amid this blaze?
What am I now that I was then
Which I shall suffer and act again,
The theodicy I wrote in my high school days
Restored all life from infancy,
The children shouting are bright as they run
(This is the school in which they learn . . .)
Ravished entirely in their passing play!
(...that time is the fire in which they burn.)

Avid its rush, that reeling blaze!
Where is my father and Eleanor?
Not where are they now, dead seven years,
But what they were then?
                                 No more? No more?
From Nineteen-Fourteen to the present day,
Bert Spira and Rhoda consume, consume
Not where they are now (where are they now?)
But what they were then, both beautiful;

Each minute bursts in the burning room,
The great globe reels in the solar fire,
Spinning the trivial and unique away.
(How all things flash! How all things flare!)
What am I now that I was then?
May memory restore again and again
The smallest color of the smallest day:
Time is the school in which we learn,
Time is the fire in which we burn.

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(This is the school in which we learn...)
What is the self amid this blaze?
What am I now that I was then
Which I shall suffer and act again,


This is a wonderful poem; thanks for posting it.

Take a look at T. S. Eliot's East Coker (in the Four Quartets); your offering here brought it to mind:

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing,
Wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing;
There is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope
are all in the waiting
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought.
So the darkness shall be the light
And the stillness the dancing.
....

Thank you for the remark about cell phones; I'm always mildly irritated at people who think they're evil and wrong (as do many where I come from), and perhaps more irritated that I can't change their minds. (Somehow "you can turn it off and it's like not having one" isn't good enough for people who don't like being reachable wherever they are.)

I haven't figured out this death thing yet. I can think of... four deaths of people close to my family (three human, two relatives, and both of those lingering and slow), six if you count Phil as family (one human, both fairly sudden), and none of them really affected me. I don't know if it's because it hasn't been anyone I know well, or if I'm just callous, or what.

Not particularly useful, that; just throwing out a thought.

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