Sunday, October 30, 2011

Things fall apart

I think I'm starting to get a handle on what a depressed state of mind feels like for me. Ok, so there are probably 10,000 blog entries that start out that way being published today, nearly none of them bearable to read. If you'll bear with me, I hope the writing that follows can justify the narcissistic introduction!

Generally as I travel through my life, looking out at the world passing through my gaze, I tend to accumulate a concept of the world that is bountiful and synergistic. That is to say I tend to see the way things work together to be more than the sum of their parts. I see ecosystems building, trees growing, people connecting and learning. Over the course of this week, that vision of the world sort of steadily eroded into more of an entropic viewpoint. That is to say I developed the feeling that systems were failing, people were ailing, the ecosystem around me was beginning to degrade.

Of course, a person can find plenty of examples and support for either of those two viewpoints. In reality both are true. In my more dry and sober concept of the universe, I recognize that while life appears to contradict entropy, actually life on earth or anywhere else could not possibly exist without it. As the multitude of components in the cosmos make their transitions from greater to lesser energy states, the energy they were carrying becomes available to other components. Self-replicating molecules have proliferated in their staggering array of diversity by taking advantage of this dynamic, allowing the energy coursing from our spectacularly degrading sun to flow through and animate life on earth; life's way of making a living is throwing up a sail to catch the solar wind. So it's not either/or. But sometimes it feels that way.

I hit my low point on Friday, which was the day I finally started to acknowledge to myself that I was feeling generally bad. There was a moment in which I was occupying my mind with some sort of imagined, potential conversation with one family member or another when the hypothetical conversation turned towards the subject of Nora. In a cathartic rush, I found my spirit articulating something in my mind to the effect of, "I really miss Nora." From that point I was able to begin my ascent back out of the pit I was in.

And speaking of pits I was in, I had spent the end of last weekend finishing the soil moving project we began some months ago...a groundwater recharge station (pit) filled with loose rock and topped with two stone benches in Nora's memorial garden is the idea. So far just the pit exists. It has been a bit odd but somehow o.k. for me to note somewhat far along in the process that perhaps what I was trying to accomplish was to dig Nora's grave. We chose cremation for her, and that was good, but perhaps I hadn't recognized the cultural import of the grave-digging process. I had even begun emphatically stating that six feet or so was the proper depth for the hole before thinking about the correlation.

Friends came over two different times for evenings of digging and ping-pong, which is how the majority of the soil was extracted, but I finished it myself. It's a strange (but in this case somehow gratifying) experience to recline in the bottom of a six-foot pit. I will venture that you've never seen autumn leaves against a blue sky until you've seen them from that perspective. And perceiving the entire, grassy, round rim of the hole in my field of vision from the bottom made the pit seem all the more like it's own cool and quiet little world. I liked that.

Today would be Nora's fourth birthday. If we hadn't gotten a bit of a freak snowstorm this weekend, I'd have been hard at it pouring the footer for the brick well that will form the center core of the pit, and then possibly beginning to brick up the sides and fill in the rock around it.

As it is, our whole family has basically been presented on a platter the opportunity to do something we so often neglect to do: relax. It is our tendency on these days worth commemorating to try to think of something we'd like to "do" to mark the day. I suppose the lessons from Nora's life have yet to be fully incorporated, because I can think of no better way to celebrate her coming into our lives than to just "be" together.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Alida's favorite bear & Nora's birthday

Technology has not been my friend today (though I have finally learned to embed a video on this blog - see below)... I don't have the energy to recreate the post I just finished, only to be kicked off blogger and have it gone!

In short, it seems that we find ourselves experiencing a backlog in many areas of life right now - which is noted in part by the lack of posting on this blog lately! There is much to say, plenty of pictures to share, and the hours in the day do not seem to be quite enough for all we'd like to fill them with.

And this week Jason and I have both had days of pacing around feeling distracted. Nora would be four tomorrow. I was laboring at UVA at this time four years ago. The emotions are complicated and strong. And tomorrow on the day of Nora's birth, Alida will be the exact age Nora was when she died. She is such a special gift to our family. Here she is enjoying one of her favorite "friends."