A Note on Prolonged Suffering

Happy Immaculate Conception Day! The magnificently observed holiday whereupon heels are clicked and all courses from Uni receive a firm and solid, “not today!” 

Thursday, December 8th. 

Which then, by my calculations, would place the entire fermentation process of baby Jesus to be–by Western standards–around…17 days. 

Whew. Yeasty.

*I’ve recently become enraptured with the art of baking sourdough bread and delving into fermentation sciences. Ergo fermentation as a metaphor will be making a indubitably frequent occurrence in my forthcoming posts. 

In honor of the glorious celebration, three pals and I popped on over to the smashing city of Vienna for the day to dance through the Christmas Markets before moseying on over to the Vienna Opera house for a fine viewing of Macbeth

The physical day was itself peppered with juxtaposition; the morning featured a brisk-but-sunny 40 degree Graz with the promise of sunlight filtering through fresh puffy clouds. As we bussed to Vienna mid-afternoon, suddenly a descent of heavy, moisture-ridden fog blanketed the world and dropped the temperature down a couple of notches. 

Oh, I’m so glad the weather is like this. It’ll just make everything more cozy!

You really can tell yourself anything these days. 

Emerging from the Vienna underground system is like walking out of the mouth of a very materialistic and vain giant; every inch of her face is covering with sparkling piercings and pounds of beautiful makeup that one can’t help but be entirely mesmerized and transfixed regardless of the status of the temperature difference. 

photo credit: Lindsey Fisher

It’s nothing you’ve seen before*. 

*(Uhm, unless you’ve been to Vienna)

From the sky hang chandeliers of diamond lights, casting Christmas glows upon the myriads of shops and cafes lining the wide decorated streets. Warm, golden light giggles its way out of pubs and restaurants and Forever 21 stores and casts the illusion of warmth even in the cold, bitter December streets. 

photo credit: Lindsey Fisher

We swung on light poles sporting tinsel and ornaments, ballroom danced in between the throngs of black-peacoat sporting businessmen. We discretely stroked the thick fur coats of million-year-old ladies as they pitter-pattered by in thick high heels. 

Photo Credit: Lindsey Fisher

The Christmas Markets were capital. Absolutely smashing. The huts sang with warm light, handcrafted honey candles, hand-whittled wooden spoons, crafted journals, freshly made truffle oils. 

We wove our way through the huts, chowing down on iron-oven baked potatoes and cinnamon-sugar waffles, sipping Heisseschokolade, holding onto the steaming mugs with the claws of death, fighting against the bitter December weather.

photo credit: Lindsey Fisher

After the Christmas Markets, we shimmied our way to the Opera, grabbing mini-bottles of Champagne from SPAR to make the dancing up and down in the line for standing tickets go by faster.

A whopping 3€ ticket purchase later, we found ourselves surrounded by the infinite beauty that is the Vienna State Opera.

 

Women with floor length, shimmering blue dresses delicately picked their way among us, clutching manicured hands around the chiseled arm of a black-tie success story. 

Those million-year-old-women entirely clad in the bodies of at least 4 animals that we passed earlier? Present and accounted for, waving tickets to the theatre boxes that have been in their family for generations. 

Everything shone with gold leaves and naked cherubim, floor-to-ceiling mirrors accentuating the glory of the interior. 

photo credit: Lindsey Fisher

The opera itself–a World War Two context on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, was breathtaking; the hard, sharp stage props created a magical world of coldness and depth that perfectly encapsulated the theme of Macbeth while leaving its audience nestled comfortably in the heated arena. The opera was performed in Italian, the glorious glottal voices of the Opera singers whispered its way around the entire room, the capital vibrato caressing the ears of even those in the cheap seats.

The entire day was magical. Truly capital. 

However. 

It did feature about 9 hours of pure standing, with a 10 minute interval of couch-to-glute interaction during the intermission.

I honestly can’t remember a time when my ankles have been more swollen. 

As tends to happen with most relatively uncomfortable things in my life, I learned something from this. 

Skirting around the Christmas Markets was tiring. But the knowledge that the tiredness wouldn’t be appeased for quite some time…a whole new level. 

photo credit: Lindsey Fisher

Standing in line for standing tickets…standing sardined amongst other cheap-seat-ticket-purchasers for the 3 hour opera…killing the hour and a half before our bus departed for Graz by oscillating around downtown midnight Vienna…
I had two options. 

photo credit: Lindsey Fisher

I could either, first, be entirely looking forward to that insatiably relieving moment when I can collapse my backside into the fuzzy synthetic seats of the Flixbus and wiggle my knees into my chest, rocking back and forth in my efforts to control the happiness that comes from the blood flow recirculating its way from my ankles. 

Or.

I could accept that it’s a thing that I’m feeling, and then proceed with staying present in the moment. With being enraptured by the glow of the little children dancing in between me as they flirt from booth to booth; entranced by the high-ceilinged dome of the gold Opera, enthralled by the warmth of the pulsing Christmas lights hanging through the city streets. 

Instead of viewing the day as just prolonged suffering–living through moments in order to reach the relieving glory of juxtaposition that would indubitably follow–accept the role of suffering in the moment and proceeded to cast it’s hold aside. 

photo credit: Lindsey Fisher

I wish this perspective could stay with me forever. That it would be a one-and-learned kind of deal. But it’ll resurface and present itself once more, many many more times to follow. To which I shall be given opportunities to force myself to stay rooted in the present again and again; undoubtedly failing as often as succeeding. 

These challenges are just what make life interesting, ja?

That and Vienna. May the Lord preserve Vienna. 

Peace and Blessings,

Josie

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