Sunday, November 29, 2015

Boethius in the Autumn

This autumn has been splendid.

Of course, it's not over yet. But you know what I mean. It's about to be. The leaves falling, the trees getting bald, the wonderful colours dissipating into black-and-white.

So much about the weather. Even if, as we have learnt at school, weather often corresponds to the mood of the protagonist in the story. Either as accentuating on it (bad mood - gloomy weather; dramatic mood - tempestuous weather etc.) or in contraposition ("The sun was shining in the high blue sky and the grass was soft and sweet with spring juices. But he was walking on it without even noticing, as he felt that his world was falling apart in that same moment"). That's what I've learnt at school. That, and who was Boethius. I hear there are people who learn more useful stuff. But then again, those people have become as dreamy and foolish as I am. So point taken, learn whatever you are pleased in school. It just doesn't matter. If you're meant to know "how substances are good in that they exist, when they are not substantially good", you will. As well as the difference between providence and predestination. But maybe we are all meant to learn something on that note.

In the frenzy of my everyday life, I thought the autumn has been rather in literal opposition to my story line rather that in correspondence. But the contrast was soothing and healing. I've enjoyed the soft, colourful days, the dark evenings coming early and inviting to go home and stay warm.The Autumn had tried to teach me to be calm. The Autumn has succeeded, in a way. Or at least, I am usually tired enough to not care. But on the difference between not-caring and being-calm Boethius didn't write much.

And so, as the days were going by and the Autumn was moving from ecstatic orange to windy grey, and as I was reading "The Consolation of Philosophy" among other things, I couldn't help but think on what is it that makes us happy in life. I realized that I don't have the answer yet. Is happiness an impassionate state of mind, as Boethius meant? Or is it loaded with emotion? Or, is it that calm but full of colours autumn day which I won't remember with anything in particular? 
Does happiness consist in that moment when the kids and I sing St. Martin songs in the car? Or is it situated in the moment I tell about it, and skip the fact that the minute we stop singing Elena would start screaming on the top of her lungs because she had skipped a nap that day, while Matteo complains about singing all the time the same two songs and is trying to sing Joan Baez off kea even louder than the rest of us? Is happiness what happens, or the narrative of it? When I am telling about it, even with those funny details - and maybe especially with those funny details - it sounds like happiness. Then why doesn't it feel so the moment it happens? 

Maybe, as Boethius said for all those to read him in the centuries to follow, because we are not given the sight to see all the discrete moments in the big picture, and to judge if what is happening is good or bad for us. We are just travelling in that car, full of little screaming-singing voices, and the Autumn leaves are swirling around the car. We are just travellers, headed home.

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