Around the Block

Whether it is a product of wholesome habit or merely an upshot of the recent bent for economy, a simple and effortless jaunt around the block on my trusty Electra bicycle has become part of my prescription for good living. Both healthful activity and austerity share the same attributes of being improving, regular and stream-lined. At my superior age, however, I have discovered that the secret in this as in so many other things is not only not to overdo it but also not to make it disagreeable. For one thing, excess has always been the first nail in the coffin no matter what the undertaking. For another, at a certain point in one’s life it is no longer either convenient or desirable to be driven by Stoic directives such as “Just do it!” We are not after all in the army, much less in our teens! No, the gainful model of behaviour – if it is to be sustained over time – must be more along the lines of contentment (with just a soupçon of ease).

Whenever one infects an activity with an element of glee there is an inclination to presuppose that the task is illegitimate. This inaccuracy arises from the introduction of an extraneous edict, namely “No pain, no gain!” If you measure the consequence of your gratification in life by the degree of deprivation, then I suggest it is time to reconsider the formula. Suffering and dispossession are unwelcome and menacing subterfuges which have no place in polite society.

Reflecting upon this subject (which you’ll admit smacks slightly of the Calvinist Work Ethic) makes me question whether the patterns of my youth were for naught. Indubitably strain was as common as air in my earlier years. Almost everything was a struggle (granted, sometimes of my own doing). Certainly the years have provided dividends regarding what I consider to be wisdom, an advantage which however may be peculiar to maturity only. As a result I am not persuaded that youth can escape the tribulations of rising experience. This is an unfortunate conclusion, as it suggests that all young people must of necessity run the gauntlet. Without the benefit of having been a parent, I challenge any one of you to contradict me on this.

In any event the point is that when one at last sees the light it is time to take pleasure in it. One is encouraged in this partiality by the knowledge that this life is limited, stale-dated and inevitably over.