I just came back from a beautiful wedding in Victoria. It was a tiny wedding, aside from the bride and groom there were two guests and I was one of them. I accompanied the bride from her room in an upper floor of the Empress Hotel to the library where the ceremony was held. She was radiant. On the way to the ceremony we passed a number of people -housecleaning in the lobby, a boyfriend and girlfriend in baseball caps walking briskly out to the street.
I was struck by the incongruity of the moment. The awe of being with someone at such a momentous juncture yet the knowledge that it affected no one around us. It seemed odd that ordinary life could continue for some while everything changed for the woman next to me.
W.H. Auden discribed a simliar sentiment in a poem. Auden was walking in a museum in 1948 and saw a painting by Breughel on the fall of Icarus.
About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.