We needn’t expect that every day – or any day for that matter – should be quintessential; that things will go precisely as we imagine they should; that the timing at the traffic lights will correspond to our particular urgency; that the shelves of the grocery store will have all we require in abundance; that people’s manners will be preserved throughout trifling commotion. Today was in part one of those “off” days, an occasion when the mechanics of the clock don’t exactly correspond to the movement of the hands on the face. Yet as moderately irregular as the day has been in certain respects, in others (such as the weather and the serendipity of a kindly email and telephone call late this afternoon) it has been splendid. The unanticipated outcome of the provocation was a reminder how magnificent it is to have “nothing to do, nowhere to go”, that incalculable profit of retirement.
Listening to Bedřich Smetana’s Moldau (Vltava) is the culmination of my trying day, struggling to mount the drive from the garage on my Electra bicycle earlier this morning, agonizing about bugs on my car windshield, cooking fresh salmon in the microwave (an oddly rudimentary but highly successful cooking method). Manifestly the inconvenience amounts to nothing. Yet I am much relieved to have penetrated the fabric of the day with only these repercussions. I fear I routinely predict a high standard of evolution each morning when I greet the day. And each day I learn that predictions seldom matter. Not that I haven’t normally a cheerful outlook but rather that the prismatic story of each day is driven not by prognosis but fortuity.
This morning after my 5 km bicycle ride throughout the neighbourhood I lingered as is now my custom upon the garden patio in the early morning sunshine for a half-hour. I prolonged myself in a deck chair, facing directly into the rising sun. To my astonishment the relaxation is akin the seduction I experience when visiting the dentist; viz., I am inanimate by necessity and I willingly acquiesce. My thoughts wander, propelled by clouds and darting light, recollections of a road once traveled, skirting upon the future, drifting into sleep then recovering moments later.
The pandemic has startled all of us. None of us knows what further to expect. For the time being isolation is the prescription. The return to local community and limited travel is a far greater alteration than we could have imagined. Then there is the oddity of seeing car dealerships with no inventory. When the poetry of life is affected by the prosaic activity of business, emotions are disturbed. There is a hidden desire to retreat.