The vicissitudes of life. My mother spoke this phrase to me at some point in my teen years as I moaned of the changes and disappointments I was experiencing.
A rather sophisticated phrase, in retrospect. After all, how often does one use the word ‘vicissitudes’ in the average conversation, or even email? Yet this phrase aptly expresses the ebbs and flows we find in our lives. It means, quite literally, the quality or state of being changeable. If there is anything we can count on in this life, it is change.
It’s a big world we live in, seven billion and counting. We read of lives that have come and gone, seemingly in a flash. Goals accomplished, goals failed. Lasting marriages, many divorces. The yin and yang carry on as faithfully as the sun rises and sets, and as the tides change with the moon.
We measure our successes at variables that agree with the symmetry of our lives, our personal yardsticks. Often we don’t bother to look until our children are grown, so caught up in the velocity we could barely catch our collective breaths.
Some of us eventually mellow, as we take stock, and so many of the ‘ever so vital’ realities dissipate like tiny dust motes, replaced by a more relaxed attitude and countenance as we hand over the torch to a younger, now more energetic generation. We continue moving mountains, but not at such a dizzying pace, and we stroke our collective beards as we smile wisely with the understanding that age often affords as we attempt to counsel the younger set on ‘not sweating the small stuff.’ Of course, learning what the small stuff actually is, well, that is part of the entire journey.
Our music may be a constant, and as I write this, chorale music wafts through my computer, the harmonies a calming balm. Thirty years ago, I would have switched that off in a nanosecond. Than again, the term ‘nanosecond’ did not exist for me back then, and was certainly not part of our urban speak, (though no doubt the time span was always there).
And so it is, we move through life, laughing, crying, the whole ‘human condition’ puzzle worked through as the years roll along. Past lives, future lives (why not), and the ever-present, as we come to grips with making vast amounts of lemonade every time life throws us those extra curves.
So whether your world includes a hike along the beach to clear your senses, or a run along a river bank, a brisk trot down the busy city street, a heavily trafficked commute, or the idyllic life you chose and achieved, take stock for a moment, count those proverbial blessings, and lend a hand to the fellow next to you. It will round out some of those choppy vicissitudes, and help close the gap in those nanoseconds.
Jody Lynn Perry
25 May 2011