Friday, August 5, 2011

Stock Market Crash, Nostalgia, Death. Who Knows Who is Right?

The Key to Finding Solace is to Get Perspective.

Heartbroken over the death of a dear cousin who has been battling cancer, there is no antidote in TV to death in its ravages. Today there is bad news everywhere, with the stock market crashing around us making it harder to imagine how ends can keep meeting -- how the status quo can keep static. As if that weren't enough, summer seems to be ending at once -- final games having happened for the two excellent sports teams my kids were on, the coach of one of which will be dearly missed.

With a mind in a state of unrest, I lie in bed with no interest in spies tonight.  Browsing through Netflix, "He Knew He Was Right" pops out at me. I have no idea about this one, having not read the book nor heard anything about the production, but I surely like the idea of someone who has certainty about something. I wonder what "he" knew? And whether he was, in fact, right? Or if this is going to be some sort of irony....

The British actor Grranimals starts to pop. [Thanks to Anneagain for my favorite analogy ever]. Frank Churchill from one "Emma" adaptation alongside Mrs. Elton from another, Bill Nighy from "I Capture the Castle" and Aunt Norris from "Mansfield Park"... all mixed together in a new arrangement and ready to play for my entertainment with great talent and acumen.

Simultaneously watching the show and looking at Facebook, I notice a couple of massive phenomena -- as people from my hometown have gone absolutely ravenous over the new "You Might Just be From La Crosse if" page. There are hundreds of posts and thousands of comments over the last couple of days. Everyone getting collectively nostalgic. Another friend has been posting pictures of our region, and high school friends are coming out of the woodwork to comment on them. We all seem to be looking for something stable and memorable in the mess that surrounds us.

And there is no greater mess than the stock market. Still distracted and with great trepidation, I pull away from the show and from Facebook and take a look at the stock graphs. The most horrible one is the 3 month graph... it looks stable(ish) for most of the graph, then plummets dramatically. But, if you change your perspective to the 2-year graph, it is not nearly so scary. We are so far beyond where we were two years ago. Why does the press never want to report statistics of moderation? Optimistic signs are always there as well as those of doom. There is no "reality"; its just how you look at things.

Meanwhile back on He Knew He Was Right, the problems with the economy are (in a way) mirrored on the screen. They are problems of perspective. In this story, our main couple, the Trevelyans, are clashing. Louis is mortified, embarrassed and angry that his wife keeps hanging around with Bill Nighy (Colonel Osborne) who is a much older man with a very bad reputation. Loius is convinced of Osborne's bad intentions or at least the appearance of impropriety. But Emily simply sees Osborne as her father's friend. She is righteous and sees no reason why she should pay attention to busybodies when she knows she is doing nothing wrong. Both are certain they are right. But both are trapped in their own point of view.

I'll have to keep watching to find out if either can transcend this issue. Or if this issue even stays important; maybe it will take a backseat to other plot points yet to unfold. I know that we'll all figure it out by the end of the movie, but right now we're suspended in time. We all, whether actor on the screen or Actor in our Life, operate inside the tiny slice of time we have in front of us.

Neither those enmeshed in a big argument nor those distressed by the economy during a time uncertainty can climb on top of the situation and view it with distance and clarity. There is often no solace when you are deep in the middle of something powerful. To get solace you have to get perspective. An elusive thing.

The best best granter of perspective is, of course, time. How appropriate, then, that my high school friend posting the pictures that are catalyzing my former classmates, speaks of geology -- focusing our attention on Ordovician and Cambrian outcroppings of sandstone. The symbolism is easy to miss, but when you think of time on that scale it is harder to worry about your son finding another coach of the caliber of the one you are losing.

For the bigger issues -- like the stability of a marriage (The Trevelyans') or the death of a young man -- more than one glimpse at the geologic time scale might be needed to cure the pain. But, lucky for the Trevelyans, they are in a play and I'll be able to let you know soon how things turn out for them. However for the larger play we are all living in, it may take longer to approach the death of my cousin with clarity and distance; but we'll work toward that as well.

... Still. I understand there have been lion cubs born at the zoo. Certainly that can offset a bit of the market crash?

1 comment:

  1. So sorry about your cousin, Amy. I hope writing this post helped you process or at least kept you distracted.
    You're such a lovely person, you must be from La Crosse, Wi...