130. The Mosaic

Easter Friday, and thinking again about time and all things passing. And beauty. So I found an old blog post, I’d like to share again … It seemed fitting:

I am often amazed of how much the world appears like … a mosaic.

It’s not black. It’s not white. It’s not grey. It’s a mosaic of many different colors, some darker, some lighter, but all kinds of varieties. And with this I mean that the mosaic represents experience.

Today was seemingly a quite ordinary day in my journey through this life, and yet this day was totally unique and will never happen again, nor will its events. That alone is enough to make it fantastic even if nothing particularly fantastic happened – just the usually swirling patterns of the mosaic of life, mixing in new ways, as if they were liquid – and not an image, never standing still.

And perhaps that is the right way of describing it. “Mosaic” is a poor analogy. Because it denotes that life stands still.

Life doesn’t. Ever.

I think I once read in a book about Zen or some other Eastern way of seeing the world that life was in perpetual motion. Nothing was ever standing still.

Therefore, it was argued, it was impossible to find something real or lasting. Or something like that …

I am not an expert in any kind of Eastern philosophy. I just remember that this image of something perpetually moving, swirling, changing, made a huge impression on me.

It, well, moved me.

*

Today a 95-year old sister of my grandmother-in-law died. She was very weak and died at hospital after having fallen, broken her leg, and having had an operation. She had already had a minor stroke some weeks before.

This last challenge was more than her frail old body could bear. Yet, I am not sad to hear it, almost relieved in fact. And not even because she was old and in poor health. My grandmother-in-law had told me just a few days ago that her sister’s worst challenge was the loneliness.

She wanted so much to go to a nursing home, not be locked up, as it was, in her apartment from which she could not venture out because of her frailty. She could hardly see or walk anymore – not for long distances anyway. So that’s why she stayed inside. And yet, the authorities felt that she was not ill enough to be put into a nursing home. They wanted to save that money and space for someone else, or just for something else.

But now the old lady is gone from this world and, I believe, somewhere else.

And even if I did not believe that it would still be a relief that she had passed, wouldn’t it? Given her situation, I mean … What more could she look forward to?

I am not sure how my grandmother-in-law feels. I don’t think she only feels relief. It is probably more mixed. For she now has only one sister left who is also very frail. Everyone else of her generation, it seems, have left her.

I am glad we are still here for her, at least.

*

The sister was born in 1919. The year after World War I ended, the Russian Revolution had exploded into civil war, the Spartacist uprising crushed in Germany and the remnants of the German High Seas Fleet gone under the waves during internment in distant Scapa Flow north of Scotland: A defiant gesture by the German Imperial fleet’s last admiral.

There was no emperor anymore, by the way – he had run away to Holland. The fleet had been interned and disarmed. The sailors scuttled it.

And so it was the year of many endings but also many new beginnings, as is every year. Every day. Every moment.

I sometimes feel that there is a special swirl of changes coming from that vulnerable time just after World War I, and I don’t just mean that there was another war brewing, but that everything had changed so much – old empires, world views, everything. So much had changed and so much would still change.

No, “mosaic” is not the right word.

It can only be a mosaic of colors of experiences IF we could magically freeze time and look at it closely.

Perhaps at the very moment in December of 1919 when my grandmother-in-law’s sister was born …

See the undulating colors – varieties – of all kinds of experiences, events, changes, brought to sudden stillness.

And so I wonder if I see more black in that mosaic than I could if I were to freeze time today and compare it:

– Would there be more deaths?

– More poverty?

– More war?

– More unhappiness?

… than in 1919?

Or would there be … less?

*

Sometimes it feels as if the world is going on to an even worse place than ever before, on its own journey of life. And it can only end badly, can’t it?

I started this morning reading news about refugees from Syria and the Middle East – men, women and children … who had again drowned or died or become lost on their way to Europe. There’s a photographer right now, chronicling their very personal experiences, traveling among these people – not just treating them like “them” but like “us”.

It comes very close and it is almost unbearable. I am usually not able to read more than a few stories.

Then there was the Danish government’s cutbacks on development aid, on environmental programmes, on climate policy.

And news about another hopeless climate summit coming up, almost at the same time. Hopeless, it seems, because nobody has the will to do something before it is too late.

*

I don’t think the times are worse, though, than in 1919. I don’t think they are better either.

I think you can always find something ‘better’ or ‘worse’ depending on what you look at. And that’s what’s important.

I want to see that mosaic. Or swirl of colors. Or whatever the right metaphor for Life is.

I have almost died, or so it felt, from depression once. I was only able to see the world in shades of black. No hope. For anything. It was like my mind had been infected by a cancer, and perhaps it had.

I know the world hurts. My life does, too, ever so often.

I wonder what is behind that door they call death. Or if it is fair, in any way, under any circumstance, under any God that children should drown in the Mediterranean, fleeing from war.

I am also grateful for what I have and that there is still so much beauty left in the world – even when I have dared to freeze time long enough for me to count the blacks in the world’s mosaic.

(Or at least as many blacks as I care to count.)

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