Serendipity was at work again today in all her unforeseeable grandeur! As I lay remotely distant from the other beach gatherers this afternoon assiduously tapping upon my iPhone to record the various thoughts I was developing concerning the essential divisions of life, I chanced to meet a gentleman whom I initially characterized a fellow-photographic enthusiast. He walked past me carrying not one but two cameras, one an extravagant looking device with a telescopic lens, the other what I learned from him was an iPhone XI connected to a very professional extension wand. These instruments alone should have alerted me that I was about to make the acquaintance of an extraordinary man. I was however dissuaded in this instinctive perception by his age. Not that he looked decrepit by any means – in fact au contraire he was extremely well preserved for his 82 years – but I confess I wasn’t prepared for the gusto and strength of ambition which followed!
Allow me to back up a moment. My dismissive enquiry into the essential divisions of life was part of my indissoluble attempt to isolate the foundations of this earthly existence. This heady subject I feel is nonetheless like any other less gossamer dilemma confronted by humanity in that the resolution so often evolves from the distillation of the ingredients to its constituent elements.
One of my first professors when studying philosophy in undergraduate was a chain-smoking fellow named MacKenzie. He reduced the universe to ashtrays or non-ashtrays. While I appreciate the axiomatic feature of the argument I prefer a more enlarging exposition of the subject. For that purpose my opening gambit today was the alternate summary of corporeal and incorporeal – granted a similar assertion but one which by contrast at least permits one to broaden the investigation by capturing the ethereal and the worldly. I liked too that the delineation afforded the addition of many other subordinate components the bounds of which are limitless.
From here I further dissected the scope into the well-known receptors of the five senses; namely, sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch. Each of these was capable of both visceral and cerebral manifestation – for example by poetry, music, perfume, romance or merely fine cooking. Without loosing the vulgarity of the corporeal element, a more spiritual rendition of the same overall generality could translate as Heaven, Hell, earth, the past and the future (thus echoing the quintuple mould of the senses). If one preferred the strictly tangible cast, then I contemplated the divisions as clothing, shelter, food, air and water (again five in number).
When the world about one consists of sand, sea and sunshine; palm trees and a balmy breeze; the clamour of children at the seashore while grateful grandparents look on; the diverting actions of a young man skilfully assembling a beach tent; and nothing but the prospect of repeating it all tomorrow – then the reduction of life to anything approaching a palpable ideology is at best questionable. I mean, it’s hardly inductive from this privileged vista to imagine life in such impenetrable terms as corporeal and incorporeal – even if extended to the basic features of clothing, shelter, food, air and water. The risk of devolving into armchair pedantry is thus very real!
Before I could have the opportunity to examine all these idle reflections more closely, I was spared the necessity by the conversation which followed with Dr. Rick Yohn (whom I later discovered on the internet – and partly by his own divulgence – is famous for “Teaching the Word of God“). This credential naturally outweighed any pretence I may have earlier had concerning the unveiling of life’s mysteries. I was however dismayed to learn that Dr. Yohn, though familiar with the name Thomas Paine, had never read “The Age of Reason” – which I wasted no time in conveying to him essentially described organized religion as a deceit.
“Thomas Paine (born Thomas Pain) (February 9, 1737 [January 29, 1736] – June 8, 1809) was an English-born American political activist, philosopher, politics theorist and revolutionary. He authored the two most influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution and inspired the patriots in 1776 to declare independence from Great Britain.“
I mentioned too how appalled I was that Dr. Benjamin Franklin – an erstwhile confederate of Paine – had not seen his way to attend Paine’s funeral. I spared Dr. Yohn the additional intelligence that not long ago a President of the United States of America officially proclaimed an acknowledgment of Paine’s often unspoken successes. Meanwhile Dr. Yohn -with the benefit of biblical allusion – lapsed into what I can only assume was for him as much a repetition of his cargo of doctrine as my codswallop is of mine.
One cannot discredit another for earning a living. Whether as a lawyer my avocation was any more or less supportable than that of any other is not for me to conclude. I do however reserve to myself the privilege of choice including the ability and exercise of the capacity to separate the wheat from the chaff so to speak.
All of which brings me conveniently back to my opening exploration. While I may have been knocked off my hardened perch of scrutiny by the events which transpired at the beach today I am nonetheless prompted to forego any requirement to expiate my guilt by having succumbed to the calculated allure of argle-bargle. I unwittingly recovered from the insinuation by having sustained my curmudgeonly posture.