There once was a man named Rex
Endowed with small organs of sex;
When tried for exposure
He replied with composure
“De minimis non curat lex!”
Appropriation and compromise don’t normally go hand-in-hand. Yet by an odd twist piracy and bargain are convenient and comfortable companions.
As I approach the end of my life I am regularly inclined to study how best I may adjust to the dreadful subject. I have observed that for those who have been privileged to have grandchildren their primary concern is what legacy can be left to them. Having been denied this compelling and natural ambition I have shamelessly adopted a less altruistic scope; specifically I mean by that I seek to colour my own lifetime success by whatever scheme makes it more palatable to me. My thinking is that whatever remains after I am gone is gravy for whomsoever gets it but otherwise I don’t derive any particular joy in knowing the recipient. Meanwhile I am intent upon adapting to my own achievements in such a way as to elicit maximum return.
To this end I have concluded that cribbing in a poetic sense is the answer. It achieves the desired end while at the same time striking a bargain with fate. An overview of what we have done is not entirely novel. The initial step was to sell everything beginning with the real estate and opting instead to rent an apartment. Our process gave new meaning to downsizing. To this we added the quip, “If it didn’t go in the dishwasher we didn’t keep it!” The predominant theme was to keep only what was essential and what was best. For example the everyday kitchen porcelain was discarded but the Crown Derby remained. Likewise the sterling silver cutlery was sold; but the stainless steel was kept. Many of my historic paintings (things such as an original Crown patent with appended beeswax seal) were donated to the Lanark Historical Society. Of all the Oriental rugs in the house and the office only the most precious Persians remained. Those original works of art suffering the consequence of age and sun damage were sold at auction. Endless amounts of furnishings, accessories and the Steinway grand piano were jettisoned if they didn’t meet the test of “best” or size. Finally I carried a carpet bag full of jewellery to the auctioneer at the Château Laurier Hotel and consigned it all – well, except for my signet ring which I reasoned was contaminated by the family seal and the inscription of my name on the inside of the shank.
So there we go! All passed through the sieve! In what by comparison to the past forty years resembled a nomadic character we launched ourselves into the future with equally distinguishing mobility. It was only months after my retirement that I abandoned the project of running for election to Town Council. We initiated what has since become an annual six-month sojourn in the southern United States of America, first Hilton Head Island, then Daytona Beach Shores and lately Longboat Key. Next year it is Key Largo, likely our final descent southerly since we have already declared that Key West is far too Bohemian for us at our age!
You would think at this point that the only concern would be how much sun to take or when to have a nap or wash the car. Yet my genetic and habitual dedication to achievement provokes me further. The yearning is made all the more intense by my awareness of the achievement, productivity and success of those around me. Call it jealousy if you will! It matters not. I see it as recognition of how others have chosen to express and reflect their personal sense of triumph in life. It is this nicety which affords me what is perhaps the devious and compensatory device to fulfill my own agenda.
We knew we weren’t about to reverse anything we had already done. This meant for example that we were not about to buy a house or condo, either here or on the St. Lawrence River or in Florida. The days of the perils, weight and intransigence of real estate ownership were forever gone! Similarly – apart from a confessed commission of my jeweller on two occasions – we were not about to purchase any new “thing”; rather we were committed to content ourselves with what we already had.
I think you can see where this is going. There were two theses at play – one, the admiration of stuff; and two, the resolve not to get any more of it. At this point I should note for the record that we had obviously proven the authenticity of my late father’s oft-repeated adage, “You can’t have money and things“. With the capital thus in place – and the determination not to disturb it – we had to look abroad for another manner by which to have our cake and eat it too. The answer was naturally staring us in the face! In both Canada and the United States of America we were surrounded by all possible material manifestations and natural beauty. The salient discovery was that we could enjoy the benefit of a highly desirable condominium without the numerous obligations of ownership. We had the further pleasure of the manicured lawns and well-maintained properties adjoining. Our experience on a 58′ yacht was sufficient to teach us that privacy and luxury are overrated. Having the privilege of cycling every day all-year long was incontrovertible! Country fields and sandy beaches were at our side. The resulting relaxation and soporific effect far surpassed the necessity of either theatre or opera (at which we had alarmingly discovered our carcasses were too large to fit comfortably in the seats). As for dining out in fine restaurants, that accommodation was a no-brainer. We much preferred either our own cooking or the productions of a hole-in-wall or seaside grill. Social commitments endured the same frozen rationality.
In all these proceedings there were some hard decisions to formulate and to set into motion. As with any other circumstance there are accommodations to be made for any bargain. Though I hesitate to say anything is set in stone, I have to admit that at this age change is not an anticipated alternative.