Sunday, November 15, 2009

November Steps: Variations on a theme by Takemitsu

Entry for 14 November 2009:

The temperature drops as Autumn progresses, first from 10-15 Celsius, and now in the past week, varying between 5 and 10 Celsius. The trees lose their leaves, too, in stages, rowan, birch, elm and finally oak. And the days grower shorter, as if counting down by steps also, imperceptible until we notice we've lost more hours of daylight: 12 hours (solstice)... 10 hours (mid October)... in a few days, our daylight will drop to 8 hours... before gradually settling toward 7 hours at winter solstice.

These are our November Steps, as we descend into late Autumn. The phrase from the title of a wonderfully evocative piece of music by Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu for traditional Japanese instruments (biwa, shakuhachi) and orchestra.

November is an appropriate time for letting go, for grieving what cannot be and had lived only in the life of our imaginations; it is also a time for feeling grateful for what is possible and real, that is, for giving thanks (thanksgiving). In fact, I think that these two movements of the psyche are really the same movement: to let go of what has passed (or was never more than a hope or dream) is to be grateful for what is there for us now. I have been trying to live this these past few weeks, living in a way that feels both sad and at points even mildly depressed, as if in mourning; but paradoxically this November state of mind at the same time seems affirming, grounded, peaceful.

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