It is admittedly a small compliment how readily dissolves my mechanical sense, my motor-driven thoughts and emotions. Competing with this uninspired and soulless performance are the careful but manual stringencies of life. The evident contrast between the two is that of routine staging and spontaneous reaction. Paradoxically I evidently respond more readily to the visceral than the repetitive – to the point nonetheless of exhaustion. More disturbing is that I increasingly tire philosophically of the universe beyond my erstwhile automated world. The similarity is likely nothing more dignified than the complaint of an old dog and new tricks – and just as bleak, just as axiomatic.
The not uncommon complaint is that things were fine just as they were. The psychology of the restive ambivalence raises medical issues – such as hardening of the arteries (specifically those connected to the brain) – and other dire evolutions. As my beloved late father was wont to say, “I just want peace and quiet“. He had at least the luxury (and plausibility) of uttering that anti-social proclamation in his 9th decade. His age did not however remove the equally real possibility that he no longer had the capacity for invention or stimulation. No matter how late or early one confronts the inevitability of aging it is not without its penalty – failing limbs, teeth and eyes; sleep is impossible; height is a danger, one’s hair turns white, even as small a thing as a grasshopper is a weight and passion fails. It is neither a pretty prospect nor an especially enthralling contemplation. Yet as I have always maintained the unwritten facility is that “Nature teaches us how to die“.
Ecclesiastes 12 King James Version (KJV)
Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;
While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain:
In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened,
And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low;
Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:
Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.
Time is running out and it therefore behooves us to capture whatever it is that moves us. For some this exhortation may be no more cogent or celestial than a new toy. And who’s to say that’s not Okay? It may be a new toy for a grandchild. Whatever the choice it is a matter of exhausting what remains either spiritually or economically. It may even be tolerable to continue doing things just as before. Again – who’s to say? Either way there’s no point saving it for the funeral. Get on with it!
Like that fine wine Frank Sinatra sang about so glowingly, the distillation process is both gratifying and revealing. I believe the progress of life may also be characterized as a synthesis not merely a filtering. Seeing life as a combination of components is more derivative than purifying. In fact I am inclined to consider that my Bohemian nature prefers the moderate contamination of life to its reduction. I extend the metaphor to excuse my notorious preference for blended whiskey and a full-bodied red to more clarified productions. Cognac was never lost on me!
Modification has proven to be a welcome alteration. On every level of conjecture and contemplation the examination of life has assumed new dimensions. What I fancy now is a stretch from before. What persists is the conviction that I am on the right track. This has the advantage of being persuasive whether right or wrong. Barring ostensibly harmful behaviour there isn’t a convincing authority to the contrary – especially if one recalls the mocking adage, “Life won’t be any longer, it’ll seem longer“. Being last out of the gate has the same attraction as being the sole survival on an island. Ecclesiastes knew we were all going to our “long home“. As far as I know he is no longer whinnying among us!
To summarize, my morning starts at the same hour every day; my toothbrush and pills are arranged in apple-pie order upon the counter; I’ll eat a green apple and steel cut oats for breakfast; bicycling and a car wash are sous entendu; music, reading, writing and photography are my catharsis; black coffee and honeycombs my pleasures; and together we two sail upon the clouds.