Friday, February 14, 2014

Something New Under the Sun

A person my age is likely to subscribe to the ancient saying that there is "nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9). The same themes and dramas seem to play out repeatedly. The sun rises and sets. Storms come and go. Uncle Bob gets drunk again at Thanksgiving. "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again" (NIV). I don't know how far back the saying goes, but the biblical reference is considered ancient. Then there is Shakespeare bringing up the same thing in Sonnet 59:

If there be nothing new, but that which is
Hath been before, how are our brains beguil'd,
Which, laboring for invention, bear amiss
The second burden of a former child.
O, that record could with a backward look,
Even of five hundred courses of the sun,
Show me your image in some antique book,
Since mind at first in character was done!
That I might see what the old world could say
To this composed wonder of your frame;
Whether we are mended, or whe'er better they,
Or whether revolution be the same.
O! sure I am, the wits of former days
To subjects worse have given admiring praise.

"Or whether revolution be the same." So, the endless cycle bears no better result year after year. Can't even get away from it in literature. It's enough to bring on the ennui.

Where am I going with this? Oh, yeah. Curling. You heard me. Curling. Prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics I had never seen or heard of curling. In a moment of boredom I turned on the television to watch yet more ice skating with predictable moves performed to very familiar pieces of music. But instead of very fit young people twirling and leaping on ice, I saw people of all sizes and shapes and ages following a stone sliding across the ice. To my further amazement, they were furiously scrubbing the surrounding ice with brooms and yelling at the slowly moving stone. Well, it appeared that they were yelling at the stone. I'm not sure. It was in another language. But they sure seemed to be giving that stone heck. Were they angry that it was moving so slowly? Was it supposed to do tricks? I had never seen this before! It was new! A new sport! Stone harassment!

Well, it turns out that curling was invented in medieval Scotland. Did you catch that word, "medieval"? The 1500s to be exact. This sport made its way to North America and curling clubs established in the early 1800s. It was an Olympics demonstration event as far back as the 1920s but was not declared an official Olympic sport until 1998.* Apparently, not new.

You might be asking yourself about now, "Where is this essay going? Is the writer saying there IS something new under the sun or not? Is she making a positive or a negative point? Should I be hopeful or depressed?" Here is the point I want to make. The themes of life don't change. Human nature doesn't change. For some of us, the image in which we were created does not change. In this sense, there is nothing new under the sun. But each of us has the capacity to experience something new to us. You can still be amazed, or at least intrigued, by something new no matter how many times you've been around the sun. You can look for old things in new forms. Look around. Pay attention. Life is beautiful and it matters the eyes with which you look and see.

It's all about how you look at it.

*For those interested, this mini history was put together from the Curling article on Wikipedia. After looking at the cited References at the end of the article, I decided that it looked well enough cited to use here in this essay without further research.

No comments:

Post a Comment