Yesterday, as the day was coming to a close, I happened to look up from what I was doing (finishing up that plaid belt, if you really want to know) and noticed the sunset. It was an eerie light, mauve and pink, and when I took a pic of it outside, it looked eerier still, as if my house and the sunset all around it had suddenly been transformed into a painting by a French Impressionist.
Lately I’ve been listening to the music of Kamal. He caught my ear a few days ago on the Comcast Soundscapes channel, which I have on a lot, as I stitch. The song I heard was a piece called Ripples from his 2000 Mystery Road album. I didn’t know who this Kamal was, but I liked the music: it was a cut above the usual plug-and-play, that is to say, largely undifferentiated New Age Chill Out vibe music they play on the Soundscapes channel.
Now Ripples as a musical piece is somewhat derivative, if truth be told, sounding much like the score that was written by Vangelis for the film The Year of Living Dangerously. But I liked it enough to search on Youtube to hear it again, and found it here.
I find I’m reaching a stage in life where I’m deciding what is important. I didn’t always do this as a young woman living in my own apartment in Manhattan in the 80s. I wonder if I am alone in this. So much of what used to mean so much to me no longer does.
So many things I heard in New York, once upon a time, things that seemed, then, so urgent and so important and so exciting, have now faded, their relevance and urgency occluded by the passage of time. I look around me here and I see so many who have not yet come to terms with what their lives have meant. I see older guys who do things with a sense a mania, as if they cannot face the proverbial Man in the Mirror. I see older women desperately doing their exercises in the nearby communal pool, bouncing their aging bodies to the tune of 70s music blaring.
I am a boomer, and I hear that boomers are desperate not to go quietly to God’s waiting room, Florida, or Arizona, or some such place, and keep busy doing inconsequential things — the manic, perpetual bicycle riders are among the saddest: unable to sit at home, they ride and ride and ride some more, going nowhere but back and forth from one lonely place to the other — while the clock goes tick tock.
I’m lucky to be a needlepointer.
It is something I have done all my life. And until my hands or my eyesight fails me, I’ll continue to do it till I die.
When I consider the world around me, whether far away, where during my lifetime there has always seemed to be a war that we have been involved in, in some remote country, or nearby, where I read or hear shocking stories about guns and racial intolerance, economic Darwinism, and religious fundamentalism, right here in this seemingly pleasant bastion of privileged conservatism, I often feel I should be doing more. Not opt for safer shoals in middle age. Not settle for predictability, and all that goes with it.
Perhaps I’m an ostrich with my head in the sand. Perhaps I should do more to help change the world around me. Save the turtles, save the Florida panther, save something. Save myself.
Another day will go by today.
And I probably won’t know what a good answer to that question might be. Yet.
But I will stitch, today, and perhaps even the next.
That much I do know.
Erin McGrath and Needlepointland.com, 2012 – 2016.