Oct 292008
Authors: Phoenix MourningStar

The U.K. rain is finally deciding to rear its head. On the long walk down the street leading to my host’s house, the rain just hangs suspended in the air giving the feeling of walking through clouds.

Returning from southern England the previous day after taking a look-see at Stonehenge, yet another lost camera becomes a story for the memory books — a lousy second rate story in comparison to the time I was taking pictures with my girlfriend’s camera and accidentally dropped it.

Things get dropped all the time, but something about being at the very top of the Vatican Basilica overlooking Rome and a week’s worth of un-backed up travel photos makes the tale of slippery fingers unforgivable.

The precipitation seems to hover like that camera did as it slowly disappeared from view.

Tromping through London and trying to recall the total losses on this most recent camera is slightly alleviated as I feel the ticket I scored for the night’s London Philharmonic Orchestra in my chest pocket.

After stashing my pack in the Waterloo Train Station, I stuff a couple bags of chips and a strawberry Yoohoo in my jacket pocket and trot off to the show. Arriving just in time for the performance in hiking boots, cargo pants and two layers of three days worn shirts, I hurry up to the auditorium stairways to the ushers.

Within minutes, the auditorium is erupting in applause as the conductor, Vladimir Jurowski, steps onto stage. In the next hour, finely tuned instruments and well-postured people in black clothes provided a wonderfully relaxing ambiance.

I always feel that at times like this, I have my best thoughts and most satisfying mind wanderings. I don’t know much of anything about classical music and orchestras. I kind of put this segment of the arts on the same level as most people would put a math or physics lecture: I really appreciate the symbols and symbolism flying around up there, but, to be honest, I don’t really understand what’s going on.

But, damn if it isn’t fun to daydream and nod your head at key moments like you were expecting that — part — right — there!

By this point, I’m trying to burn the lost pictures into my memory by tracing every step of my journey since the last photo upload: the southern edges of Edinburgh, the tree houses in Bilston Glen, Salisbury Cathedral, Stonehenge.

The consolation that comes to mind is also the reason I didn’t have a camera until a year ago: I’m too busy living life on fast-forward to try to see it all through a tiny eyepiece.

Intermission comes before I finish the thought, and I head out to a balcony. Night has fallen over London, and the view is spectacularly romantic. The lights of London’s Parliamentary building reflect off the River Thames, Big Ben in the background alongside the just barely visible outline of Westminster Abbey.

I could hardly imagine a better escape from the turmoil bombarding us in the last six months. The news, the floods, the tropical storms, bombs and the campaigns just keep going and going.

It’s certainly not time to roll over and give up. And we’re not likely to have a lot of breathing room between now and who knows when — but a little break, a rest, some time to clear the mind seems to be what our country, our planet needs right now.

It may be that we’ve found ourselves in a situation where there won’t be a quiet before the next storm — we’ll just have to create one within ourselves.

Phoenix Mourning-Star is an environmental heath graduate student. His column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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