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Count Your Blessings

This year, people don’t have the holiday cheer they are supposed to.  Everyone looks a little frazzled and tired, and their tolerance for other people isn’t very high.  No, I’m not talking about the economy, although that might have something to do with it.  This has to do with solar flares.

Irvine Park in the Snow

Irvine Park in the Snow

This may not seem to make much sense, but let’s start with what we know; the weather has been lousy.  Not just here in Saint Paul, where we hit –10F (-23C).  There was flooding in New Jersey and snow in Las Vegas and a condition known as “Butt Cold” everywhere north of that.  “Butt Cold” is where you do your best to prepare for the outside world but when you get outside you can’t help but clench.  What caused all of this?

If you look at the Jet Stream, you’ll see that instead of being a ribbon that goes ‘round the globe it’s been shattered into many little pieces.  This old reliable feature of our planet is acting like all the man-made institutions we know of, failing us suddenly and unexpectedly.  This does happen from time to time, much like recessions, but this time is especially nasty.  And what’s probably caused this is the tremendous input from solar flares that has ripped up our planet’s magnetic shield and caused tremendous disturbances at both poles.

After the Solstice next Sunday, 21 Dec at 12:04 UTC, the Northern Hemisphere will start turning toward the sun once again.  The days will slowly become longer as we move away from the 8 hours and 47 minutes of light that we have on that day here at 45 degrees North Latitude.  In my house, we celebrate this Celtic holiday by turning off all the electrical gadgets for a few minutes and basking the light of dozens of candles.  It’s our holiday, and it means a lot to be at one with the motion of the planet.  Knowing that there are nasty solar flares out there, is this something we really want to celebrate?

Oh, yes, even more.  What is truly wonderful about living in the middle of a big continent is that you can’t help but be humbled by something as simple as weather.  We may think we’re so incredibly sophisticated, but we are nothing when compared to the turn and wobble of our planet.  To know that the planet itself is humbled by the sun makes us even smaller in comparison.  Our sun is not just a giant light bulb set in place to keep us warm like so many chicken eggs – it has its own life that pulses and ebbs.  And is it large compared to our little ideas.

As we are forced to huddle inside during the various holidays that people celebrate this time of year, it would be wise for all of us to contemplate the great forces that we thought were benevolent constants in our lives.  Many have shown themselves to have their own agendas and ways of doing things that often run counter to what we thought they should be doing.  The reason for this is simple; each of us, as individuals is small.

That may not sound comforting, but take some time to count your blessings.  Understand what you really are and really have.  Not only will you feel better, but you will understand what kind of tactics you can employ as you improvise your way through life.  Understanding what you don’t have can lead you to seek out others, perhaps forming a movement that is not so small after all.  Together, we are a strong people who get through things like bad winters but as individuals we are small.

Realizing how small we are may not seem like a particularly great way to liven up this time of year.  It can be damned depressing, in fact, if you let it.  But if you take that understanding and put it to a proper use, the first thing you see is the warmth and love of your family around you.  From there, who knows?  If you don’t like being at the whims of things much bigger than you, do something about it.  But know where you stand first, please.  Count your blessings – then make good use of them.

5 thoughts on “Count Your Blessings

  1. Ah, at last–the Winter Solstice!

    Thanks so much for reminding us that, even as we huddle away from the blizzards, the days are getting longer, not shorter. “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”

    BTW, it’s still Dec. 16 by me. That means it’s still Beethoven’s birthday, Erik. Get out the CDs and celebrate!

  2. LOL “Hark, the Herald-Tribune sings,
    ‘God is dead, now buy some things!’”

    Oh, that’s good! Bravo!

    So did they play all nine in sequence??? Isn’t it amazing, the difference between the First and the Fifth? He went from faux Haydn to something all his own–though the Fifth’s famous four-note motif was a stock figure that appears in works by several 18th century composers, including Haydn.

  3. Counting our blessings is a good idea, especially this time of year and this time in history. Lots of bad things might happen and the world seems to be headed toward dark days. I can only hope that new leadership will at least coax along an eventual spring. But this winter of our discontent could me much longer than anyone imagined.

    Impending doom, be damned. Counting up all I’m grateful for, including a wonderful partner and a terrific family.

  4. Maris, you shouldn’t get me started. Too late!

    I love the 1st, if for no reason other than it was the first album I bought. The way it opens with a question, asked twice and then answered.

    Herbert von Karajan said that the 9 should be seen as a set, symmetric in their form. That question at the start of the first is answered by the ninth. The second and eighth .. I don’t remember. The third and seventh really do go well together, with the marcia funabre matched to something like a resurrection. Fourth and sixth are both simple and happy.

    And the fifth stands alone. Bwa-ha-ha!

    I think it’s a strange theory, but parts of it work for me (the parts I remember).

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