Expected Surprises

Tree in the middle of a quick change.

  • Summer lingered long and warm.  Even though autumn had been anticipated for some time, the abrupt arrival of deep and persistent cold was a little shocking.  Suddenly leaves change, nuts fall, fragile summer blooms turn to mush, and jackets, hats, and gloves are once again fashionable.  This weekend the first fierce northeaster of the year may strip foliage before it can reach full glory.
  • Old folks can see such actions in almost every phase of life.  We anticipate without happiness that friends will get sick or die, that we ourselves face declines and incapacity, that social conventions or development or technology will leave us confused and sometimes angry.  But we are nevertheless taken aback when any of those certainties actually come to pass.
  • Like all humans, we adjust quickly enough.  But we always remember what once was, and sometimes are shocked at how the familiar is suddenly gone forever.
Halfway to scarlet, berries complete, another cycle fulfilled.
  • Change of seasons is less a metaphor than an omen.  There are many worrisome indications of declining possibility, as if this summer of civilization itself is passing into winter.  I hope it is only my own fey fancy that holds such grim foreboding.
  • Like autumn cold and rain, indications of future problems have been revealed in worrisome bits and flashes.  Climate change hides its tipping point under huge storms and dying reefs.  Overpopulation remains a straining but irrelevant nuisance.  Breakdown in civil morality and general decency _ not to mention high ideals _ has only ripped minor tears in the fabric of daily life.  Global interdependence and global fragility deliver goods reliably in spite of growing difficulties.
  • I concentrate on being an optimist.  Yet there is a fin de siècle tone to much of what I observe, a general twilight of the gods brooding undercurrent of what may come next, that I cannot ignore. 
  • For now, I simply put on metaphorical hat, gloves, and jacket, and hope that the weather holds back its worst for just a little bit longer so that I can enjoy what remains.
Borderline between summer and autumn, bright leaves overlook an empty beach with green trees on horizon.
  • Philosophical surprise is my outlook while growing older.  To myself, I am important.  To the universe, I am an insignificant speck in space and time.  Somewhere in between lies the actual limit of my power, but I suspect that is closer to universal impotence.  LOL.
  • I’ve enjoyed, and still enjoy, each day immensely.  Nature remains filled with wonder.  People provide constant entertainment, even if much of it is misanthropic.  A key to such enjoyment, like that which triggers laughter, is being suddenly tricked.
  • To fully appreciate continuing miracles, I encourage the ability to be surprised by everything, all the time.  Kind acts, noble thoughts or deeds, woolly bear caterpillars, extravagant northeasters, the laughter of a child.   I may regret horrors in our world, but I can no more change them than the path of a storm or the sweep of the tides.  Some say I run away from responsibility _ I agree with them.  Perhaps the greatest surprise is that all this stuff gets along without me quite well.  

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