It would hardly instil alarm to observe that the bliss of perfection is short-lived (assuming naturally that one has even had the occasion to savour the nectar). Whether one is talking about a superlative meal or a scintillating relationship, a marvellous voyage or a sparkling new acquisition, just about anything we do – no matter how ecstatic – is destined to wane. This is not a dreadful thing. I mean the whole idea of perfection – at least in the kerfuffle of daily human flurry – is all wrapped up in novelty which by definition has a limited shelf life. And further I reckon that even if the initial manifestation were to continue uninterrupted its enchantment and pungency would presently slump, exhausted by time if nothing else. Yet discounting gratification however fleeting runs against the grain. It would indeed be a hard-edged philosophy that dismisses lotus-eating as futile because of its predictable sequel. Continue reading
While on occasion I compliment myself to suppose I possess a degree of polish, it is likely nearer the cold truth that I am at best a plagiarist and at worse a sham. I regularly seek to submerge my confessed want of depth by expropriating what is recognizably the superior productions of others – redoubtables such as Jane Austin or Edward Gibbon (though shamefully I draw the line at Tolstoy for reasons yet unclear). Living vicariously through the brilliance of others is perhaps bordering on deceit but it’s the best I’ve been able to come up with so far.
Can we possibly fathom how it must have been for the swashbucklers to set sail in the Mayflower in 1620 “in search of a new land”? Talk about raw travel adventure! Their existing circumstances in England had to have been forbidding to promote the idea of such a voyage in the first place. It speaks to the enigmatic buoyancy of humanity to have looked out upon the unavoidable prospect of uncertainty.
It isn’t often I succumb to my better judgement and rise above the straitened circumstances of life. Which is to say that introspective levity demands both acuity and unflinching conviction. Seeing beyond the range of what are perhaps one’s trammelled horizons is no easy matter. For one thing the perturbing annoyances of living are always more compelling than any armchair reflection upon the subject. Yet there is I find an unquestionable reward for doing the right thing.
There are two things I don’t do well – Third World and children. Interestingly they have certain commonalties, like lack of development, general austerity and forbidding unfamiliarity. Fortunately for me (and trust me I am not circumscribing the experience of others by my own confessed dearth of initiative) it isn’t often I am inclined or obliged to embrace either vernacular.
Reward has forever been for me the shameless upshot of a pleasant day. Seemingly I cannot have the one without the other. I love a celebration! Whatever the reason (perhaps my exuberance is rooted in a bipolar personality) today marks the culmination of a series of personal coups. I have lately succeeded to fulfill what by most standards would no doubt be considered utterly tiresome accomplishments, things like getting through routine medical attendances (though in light of our current healthcare system that may not be an entirely meaningless achievement), at last having adjustments made to tatty pieces of jewellery (the collection of stuff that lingers unnoticed for years in dusty bedroom bureau drawers), handing off a dilapidated heirloom inherited from my grandfather to my niece for posterity (finally admitting it will never work), repairing a scuff on my car (one of those incontrovertible vexations), that sort of thing. While none of those events amounts to anything much, their performance is nonetheless relieving. Frankly these days my agenda even given the most generous rendition is far short of astonishing. So checking off almost any incident no matter how inconsequential is for me a palpable victory. If nothing else it constitutes a re-enactment of the days when I had things of necessity to do. The result? Cupcakes. The combination of artistry and sugar. As I quipped to the chap in the bakery department this afternoon, sweets are an addiction. What more appropriate response to achievement than a substance that can cause diabetes, obesity or death! The moment of unrepentant and blind submission!
Russian President Vladimir Putin recently exhorted the United States, “Don’t worry, be happy!” I doubt he considers the expression purely modern. It is after all traditionally fraught with facetiousness. I am more inclined to suspect him of mocking the United States politicians. Yet the once catchy phrase has some quirky substance to it. Though the adage is principally associated with the popular worldwide hit song by musician Bobby McFerrin released in September, 1988, the song’s title is taken from a famous quotation by Meher Baba.
If one were to listen only to the sentimental jazz tunes from the American songbook of the 1940s there’d be no question that the most austere life is one spent alone. Every ditty promotes a sometimes wistful though always loving companionship. And while I won’t contest the aspiration I nonetheless ascribe on some occasions at least no inconsiderable merit to the alternative – being on one’s own. An ancient friend of mine once remarked that he savoured dining alone because he had the best possible company. Unquestionably there was a measure of arrogance in the pleasantry – he wasn’t the most modest person. But I have sufficient confidence in the relic’s wisdom to allow for a kernel of truth in the quip. Indeed if I were to reflect but a moment on the occasions when I have dined alone the reminiscences are unequivocally fond though perhaps sometimes glossed with a patina of melancholy.
Certainly the most elemental matter in providing any answer is first to define the question. One might for example question why we have a legal system. The question is not as preposterous as initially appears. Lawlessness is a lack of “Law” in any of the various senses of that word. Indeed there is a philosophy of anarchism – “a social philosophy that rejects authoritarian government and maintains that voluntary institutions are best suited to express man’s natural social tendencies.” George Woodcock “Anarchism” at The Encyclopedia of Philosophy; further, “anarchists are opposed to irrational (e.g., illegitimate) authority, in other words, hierarchy — hierarchy being the institutionalisation of authority within a society”; and, “That is why Anarchy, when it works to destroy authority in all its aspects, when it demands the abrogation of laws and the abolition of the mechanism that serves to impose them, when it refuses all hierarchical organisation and preaches free agreement — at the same time strives to maintain and enlarge the precious kernel of social customs without which no human or animal society can exist.” Peter Kropotkin, Anarchism: its philosophy and idea.
Admittedly I have a passion bordering on neurotic for closure. I love to put the lid on things. Perhaps it has something to do with rejuvenation. At the very least it’s a sense of resolution. Without the drama, the ceremony – whatever it entails, whether strictly business or highly personal – is a closing down or discontinuation. Frequently my mania for this conclusion is spirited by general impatience. The goal is always pursued with utter lack of compromise, accommodation or delay. It has to be a weakness of mine that once I get an idea in my head I won’t let it go until it is accomplished. In any event I am emboldened in my commitment to this latest determination by my conviction that I have all my wits about me and that the decision is prudent. It’s an enterprise which has rankled me for some time. At last I’m doing something about it. From this day forth I’m done with entertaining.