Do you ever look back upon your life and reflect upon the grand total of what you’ve done and who you are? Are you one of those people whose life is – to speak charitably – unpretentious? Perhaps you consider that you are justifiably self-effacing? If so, I’m right there with you. To be candid an account of my life is unexceptional, passable at best. It would for example impart more tang than merited to my insipid existence to suggest that any day is much different from another. Nonetheless I rejoice in every boring moment, even to a fault. As inclined as I am to itemize the particulars of my ineffable life, I will resist if only because I fear their public recitation may be tedious though strangely that does nothing to dampen my private gusto.
Trust me, I’m not being humble. The broad outline of the unglamorous agenda which consumes my day is little more than sleep, eat and bicycle. Once upon a time I worked for a living (which come to think of it is a horrid recapitulation of a lifetime of commitment). Now I interject my modest game plan with writing, playing the electronic keyboard, photography, reading books and watching Neflix series and independent films, all of which constitute my personal preferences and hobbies. Though I doubt that it qualifies as a certifiable pastime, driving my car is another of my diversions. And I shamelessly drool over certain things I have; but, as I say, they are too banal even to dare to mention. Sufficient it is that I luxuriate in the material world with which I have been blessed. For purposes of this chronicle what matters is that I delight in the stuff, not what it is.
Circumscribing this kernel of activity is an orbit of mundane adventures and misadventures – grocery shopping, daily telephone calls to family, routine conversations with my financial advisor, accountant, doctor and lawyer, inescapable and often tiresome maintenance of hardware and mechanical devices, occasional conflicts and resolutions, cursory email exchanges with friends, bank reconciliations, haircuts and foot massages. To discern anything extraordinary in that synoptic outline would be a stretch. And yet I rejoice with the same jubilation that a child must feel on a good day when everything is right, inside and out. It requires nothing of the philosophic to distill the elements of happiness.
I might dignify this anemic sketch by alluding to the analytical detours apropos love, friendship, death and the meaning of life. There cannot be anyone who does not tax himself with such thoughts from time to time. The material world, flavourless or not, is but a backdrop to those flighty considerations. For the most part however I ignore the presage of profane matters by absorbing the strength of what I do. I am by nature a tactile person from the moment of my awakening under the down duvet to the first sip of robust morning coffee, the nourishing food, the hot shower, the heat of the sun, the sound of the wind in the trees and the sight of the grass and the sea. My reading naturally takes me to places of contemplation but it is the sensuality of life which overwhelms me. I am a Sybarite.
Certainly one can pretend to confuse the material world with the esoteric but for me they are one. I can mine the same intensity from a political battle as a work of art. My life is a blur of sensuality.
What high standard of comparison we promote these days! Small wonder I sometimes feel diminished. Yet I succeed to rationalize my deficit by recalling we’re all looking at the same world and that we’re all made of the same matter. If that argument doesn’t convince, merely add the ingredient of luck (good or bad) and you have it all! What conceit it is to presume any one of us is the product of anything else! This cryptic recipe doesn’t portend uniformity, it’s a reminder that life is like Mediterranean food – all presentation! We’re each working with the same material (more or less) and it is up to us to concoct the result as best we can.
My declining years have been characterized by an amortization (or at least a refinement) of things and a commensurate augmentation of quality (or at least of subtlety). As any good cook knows, less is more. The gluttony of youthful appetite gives way to the decorousness of age. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t for a minute swap one for the other, either then or now. Though the bloom may fade there can yet be lots going on underground. Admittedly I have learned some of that deviousness that is passed off as wisdom, a variation on the theme of accommodation which I believe characterizes the goal of living. I consider it pragmatic capitulation.
There is a point at which it is just too late. We’re never going to be young again; we’ll never turn back the clock; it’s impossible to accomplish what would have taken years to do. So the only choice is to accept and move on. And, yes, that means more of the same.