The rampant adage, “Focus on the here and now!“, may at first appear merely to isolate the present from the past and the future. I am not convinced it is quite that simple. I believe the admonition goes far beyond the obvious implication that we can only truly know the present. Without engendering a trite high school argument to the debate, the reprimand to stick to the present does not diminish the sweet texture of the past and the tantalizing seduction of the future howsoever we reignite them either in our memory or in our mind’s eye. I discovered today that “Living the dream!” is neither an assessment of the past nor a fantasy of the future; it is instead nothing more complicated than the road directly in front of you. And you can be guaranteed that following that particular path will be the same fleeting journey you’d take by any other design.
As dedicated as I am to that popular fiction which passes for imperturbable optimism, I am developing a twitch about the future. It is safe to say that my tentativeness surrounds the global pandemic. Whatever delight we may once have had in mobility throughout the globe has been seriously eroded. More significantly a similar reluctance affects anything we plan for the future. It was until only recently that one could with impunity book an appointment for a haircut. Dining out is as yet either a thing of the past or gravely considered.
My precipitous descent into curmudgeonly behaviour has unwittingly introduced me to an unimagined discovery. It surrounds that iconic symbol of maturity, intellect and manhood generally; namely, fishing. In retrospect there isn’t one person whom I’ve known who was a fisherman who was not as well tolerably sociable and manifestly refined. The thought alone inspires sophistication! Indeed so pungent was this envious image that I categorically never once pictured myself doing likewise. Not that is until today. This unanticipated admission to the fold of propriety did not however transpire quite as might be expected. In one way I failed to follow in my late father’s footsteps as a fisherman; in another way I achieved a similar height of flawlessness by modifying the model to make it more digestible for me while maintaining the orthodoxy.
On the bike trail this morning I crossed paths with Stravoula (“Voula“) Charos and her 27 year old daughter Katerina (software specialist). Voula and her husband Peter are I believe first cousins of well-known brothers George (Angela) Charos and Terry (Danae) Charos. Meeting Katerina inspired me to absorb the talent and success of the Charos family. I briefly shared with Katerina my historic knowledge of the contribution of her family to the Town of Almonte. She was visibly moved by the comment. The bottom line with the Charos family is that they work hard and keep to the grindstone. What began primarily as retail expression soon turned to professionalism for the younger members of the clan. Dr. Jim Kontogiannis, DDS for example has made a terrific reputation for himself. I hasten to add however that the contributions of the Charos family to the Town are but exemplary of similar endowments of many others whom we’ve been privileged to include among our long-time notable residents.
The hole we’re digging throughout this pandemic deepens by the day. Increasingly I lose track of the day and the hour. I have yet to forget what month or year it is but no doubt that transgression is in the wings. The predominant obstruction is not only social immobility but also life’s uncertainty in general. When one is fastened to the past the evaporation of the relieving element of planning threatens to poison the future. Evidently it is this disruptive calendar which has until recently blocked my interest in recovering my erstwhile gusto. Now however I have hardened myself to the reality that nothing much will alter the current landscape. I am therefore wise to figure out a way to overcome the anxiety other than vodka martinis. We’ve already experimented with Oreo cookies and butter tarts. The results are palpable!
The unwitting knowledge that the year is 2020 at last percolated sufficiently to entice me to do something about it! The number 50 sprung to mind. Why, I haven’t a clue other than the possible literary veneration of a solid round figure. The ambition to “cover” 50 years was diluted to embrace a broader – and less meticulous – description of 5 decades. This watering down was nonetheless still a bit of a bore, threatening to be but a tedious repetition. Though the subject matter might not be changed, the format unquestionably required alteration. What follows is a so-called “broad stroke” for the entirety of my life from 1970 – 2020. Its uniqueness if any is that it captures only the most salient recollections.
Earlier this afternoon during my constitutional drive – as I soared noiselessly in the balmy summer air with the windows and the landau roof open – I bemoaned my fate. I resigned myself that wintering in Florida this year is unlikely. Admittedly it is mainly a concession that as a result of the pandemic the world has changed inalterably. At the same time I was no more willing than usual to bend to defeat. Instead I pondered the possibility of couching in a seaside drawing room overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in the Province of Nova Scotia.
Certainly within the current pandemic – and admittedly so even when otherwise – we don’t often get invited for tea. Today’s singular invitation was from new friends who moved here from nearby Village of Clayton. The Village of Clayton – again, not unlike many other adjacent small rural communities such as Pakenham, White Lake, Playfairville and McDonald’s Corners – is a source of enormously diverting intelligence. Though the Town of Almonte amalgamated in 1999 with surrounding Townships to form the Town of Mississippi Mills, originally Almonte had a population of no more than 4,500. Not to be outdone by our hosts at the tea party today, I related several anecdotes about the erstwhile Village of Almonte. Indeed one story involved Arnold Craig whose wife was from Clayton. Arnold regularly publicized that when inviting her to a dance at the Agricultural Hall in Almonte on Water Street he took care to put gravel in her shoes “so she’d feel at home“.
In its broadest terms life is either personal or public. Or as my erstwhile chain-smoking philosophy professor may have preferred, “The world is divided into ashtrays and non-ashtrays.” In either instance the compelling authenticity of the global thesis is a binary conclusion. At first blush the variance of the internal and external world – or the difference between what transpires within our orbit or beyond – might be imagined identical or at the very least similar. This however is not necessarily so. The adage holds undiminished that, “It depends how you look at it!” The frozen truth is that what one sees outside very much depends upon what one sees inside; and, depending upon the view, the perspectives may or may not coincide. And more importantly the perfect picture may be more within than without.
We were invited to dine last evening in the Village of Ashton with long-standing friends. Before our departure we mechanically agreed there was no chance of going home hungry. Nor in retrospect were we mistaken. Indeed our host and chef succeeded beyond even the usual abundance. To my admittedly prosaic imagination it was a singularly tasteful meal which both opened and closed with delectable morsels in faint compounds of fresh herbs – including the blissful mint in the homemade ice cream!