Sunday, July 14, 2013

The "other moment" in the show

Dear friends,

This week’s blog is a brief coda to last week’s writing in which I sounded Scrooge-like about Fourth of July celebrations. Miss Annie’s story will come next week. Promise.

Some readers objected—gently—to my somewhat snarky remarks about fireworks.

I gladly acknowledge that I too enjoy fireworks. First there is the silent drum roll of waiting, then the sound and the sudden brilliant pattern of scattering light against the night sky. What is not to enjoy about a spectacle like that? Cost, priorities and parking problems cannot be fairly included in evaluating the joy of the fireworks display itself. Point freely granted.

In life part of the gift of expectations lies in their ambivalence and uncertainty. One reason that watching fireworks is fun for adults is the way in which the display process demonstrates this fact of life. Somehow, the experience of the visual spectacle of light is intensified by another less celebrated aspect of the show. As an adult, I experience of moment of delicious laughter when in the process of increasingly impressive displays, the expectant silence is followed not by explosion and brilliant flares of light but rather by something that goes “Phuss-zzzz-phuss—fizzz. Klunk.”  Dark.

To push the metaphor a bit, as an adult watching fireworks I am reminded that when in life I light the fuse I am not automatically insured a given result. A day—a decision—may end with Roman Candles or a Klunk (or both).  No insurance available.

Thinking with you that living fully requires us to accept the fact that the real cost of exciting fireworks includes patience with the duds.

Miss Annie’s story will help us think next week.  Promise.


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