The clear, winter skies gifted us a tenderly glowing, faintly slivered moon the last few nights. And however arbitrary it is, the end of a calendar year provides a sense of ritual in which one can memorialize. And then forge silly little promises to oneself regarding food intake (in is more fun than out), physical activity (does swearing count?), less swearing (a deeply personal cause), and f’ing career goals (find one).
Somehow these resolutions rub up against a world that has its own plans. A world of uncertainty and doubt. In a class on Greek Tragedy, I showed my professor some artwork that used frail materials. Though he has dedicated his life to language, he is nonetheless economical with it: He stated dispassionately, “Fragility is a necessary condition for something in the future to arise.”
What instantly came to mind was that each moment, like the one right here, has to give way to the next moment, like the one right here. And each moment started to feel doubtful. And then I felt naked to the world in my artwork’s inadequacy to convey this. So we sat in the “swaddling band of darkness,” overtaken by a semi-awkward silence because it was all too much to bear, really.
It is human nature to avoid fragility and its attendant vulnerabilities. But every moment of word-failing beauty, every curling ache from a chance encounter with a beloved arises from a mystery – not the known. And certainly not from the expected or because I resolved of it.
Who knows what this next year brings? No one. Thankfully. Beautifully.
Today’s Advice: “To be a good human being is to have a kind of openness to the world, an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control, that can lead you to be shattered in very extreme circumstances for which you were not to blame. That says something very important about the condition of the ethical life: that it is based on a trust in the uncertain and on a willingness to be exposed; it’s based on being more like a plant than like a jewel, something rather fragile, but whose very particular beauty is inseparable from that fragility.” Martha Nussbaum, The Fragility of Goodness