Friday, February 17, 2006

Weltschmertz

"Weltschmertz \Welt"schmertz`\, n. [G., fr. welt world + schmertz pain]: Sorrow or sadness over the present or future evils or woes of the world in general; sentimental pessimism."

Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)

This morning, the news tells me (yet again, but even more so than usual): the world is coming to an end. A village in the Philippines has been buried by a landslide. Doctors may have “mercy” killed patients in a hospital in New Orleans after Katrina hit. Our vice president shot someone, but our president is satisfied that he has handled everything just fine. More revelations of torture to detainees; more international pressure to stop; more denials and defensiveness. Innocent hostages still being held: very little news about them.

And looking out my window is no better. I live in a northern clime. We usually have cold winters with snow on the ground from Thanksgiving until, oh, April. But this year we’ve had ping pong weather – one day it snows convincingly; the next everything melts. Two days ago, everything melted again. Yesterday, it snowed and covered the ground again. I went for a very cold walk. In the evening – yes, the evening – and through the night) it warmed up. Yes, it warmed up. Everything melted overnight. I wake up to a brown and dull green world. Fierce winds whip through. People’s garbage cans and recycling bins are strewn about. Big branches are down. The weather forecast: the temps are supposed to now drop to “arctic temperatures.” Yet, what does even this mean, when the glaciers in Greenland are melting away?

And just then in my writing this morning, our power went out for most of the day. I huddled in the chilling house wrapped in a blanket until even then I was cold to the point of distraction. Then I decided to set off in quest of a place still warm. But my automatic garage opener wouldn’t work (because the electricity was off). After much numb-fingered, dusty, fumbling about, I figured out how to unlock and open it, but couldn’t get it locked again. I left anyway, feeling strange and lost, unsettled, ungrounded.

So, today I suffer Weltschmertz.

2 comments:

  1. Hmmm...and here I thought I was the only one who could really feel weltschmertz.

    But mine is mostly for those now and before me who are really good people who have been mis-treated through no fault of their own.

    Like the guy in, "You gave me a mountain."

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  2. Yes.

    And everyone has stories of being mis-treated through no fault of their own.

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