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Friday, November 6, 2009

The Same Day: Beauty and Terror

In the old days, movies signaled a climax of terror with thunder and lighting, lashing winds and torrential rains, but real life is seldom like that. I remember a lovely, calm spring morning when Ellen and Kathie and I had gone to hike the Grass River Natural Area over by Alden. We later learned that a local fisherman, husband of our small-town postmistress, had died on the lake that morning. On another calm, beautiful morning, that of the infamous attacks of September 11, I had walked a short length of trail near Suttons Bay (while my laundry was churning away in the washers back at the laundromat), and before I knew of the tragedy I scrawled and mailed a note to a friend about the perfection of the day.

Yesterday afternoon was the same juxtaposition of calm natural beauty—the lovely clouds here and, down at Fort Hood, the most awful chaos and terror. Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be much to say. Oh, the radio voices talk on and on because they must, because that’s their job. I feel silence all through my being.

Last night we had each other and Sarah and a dinner of soup with tomatoes and carrots and chard from our garden. When the big world seems to go so crazy, can it be wrong to cling to these small comforts of home? They gave me the courage to continue reading Fear: The History of a Political Idea, by Corey Robin. It will sound strange to say I am “enjoying” such a book, but as a philosopher I find the author’s studied contrast of Hobbes and Montesquieu completely fascinating. And I want to try to understand.

Later on, my dreams were strange. One of them was nothing but sentences, one after another in an exhausting cascade, like falling pickup sticks, no single sentence related to any of the others.


Gerry said...

The day my mother died I was walking back to the hospital with fresh croissants for my sisters. It was such a beautiful morning that my spirits lifted. It seemed like a promise.

It wasn't. It was just a moment's comfort in a very, very bad time. We rest in such moments, and then head back into the fray, random sentences falling from the sky.

P. J. Grath said...

Gerry, you put that better than I could. Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

Please pass some of that soup. I would love a bowl right now!

P. J. Grath said...

Well, we finished off that soup last night, but tonight I'm making curried pumpkin. How does that sound?