The wall of the staircase, up which I had watched the light of his candle gradually climb, was long ago demolished. And in myself, too, many things have perished which, I imagined, would last for ever, and new structures have arisen, giving birth to new sorrows and new joys which in those days I could not have foreseen, just as now the old are difficult of comprehension.
Proust, Marcel “Swann’s Way”
As I near the end of my rove upon this earthly mould – and no doubt as my capacity for recast diminishes commensurately – I am afforded a critical picture of what it is I like and what it is I dislike. Though the recognition may be more poetically rendered as the mirth and gloom of life I prefer the evident binary composition of fondness and disfavour for the clarity it signifies. It is for example far easier to adopt or to excuse oneself from an occupation or relationship when compelled to do so by the refined distillation of taste without the complication of analysis. The refinement of which I speak is not some categorical purity. Rather it is an immediate response promoted by instinct which is itself a remarkable headlight on an approaching event or person.
Yesterday we engaged in two lengthy telephone conversations, one with a former colleague, the other with my sister and brother-in-law. The first was a comical recovery of old stories and current challenges. The second was a shared reminiscence of hotels in New York City; viz., the Waldorf-Astoria, Carlyle, Pierre and Plaza. Both conferences were marked by the startling passage of time; and the recurring worth of family and friends.
What however distinguished the two catalogues of events was that the former was marred by irremediable and lingering misfortune. There is no denying that I too have been obliged on occasion to endure the consequence of life’s setbacks; but never have I considered it a sufferance but rather a temporary roadblock. Perhaps the greatest tribulation has been nothing more hellish than having to teach myself to seek my pleasures elsewhere than in the barren satisfaction of worldly wealth. As for the rest I consider it merely part of the statistical encounter to be expected by someone of my age and experience. I now refresh myself with the elemental features of clear air and country breezes.
As I recall the “days of my youth when the evil days come not nor the years draw nigh” I am spirited aloft in my silly contemplations by the very poisons from which I once sought to distance myself. The clawing gravity of earthly trials are I find thus conveniently anodized and replenished – though for some it may appear a regressive toxicity.
“Anodizing increases resistance to corrosion and wear, and provides better adhesion for paint primers and glues than bare metal does. Anodic films can also be used for several cosmetic effects, either with thick porous coatings that can absorb dyes or with thin transparent coatings that add interference effects to reflected light.“
I shall not dilute the wizardry of my “cosmetic film” by venturing to translate its chakra. Herein lies the essence of my apologetic spiritual being. From a seat of self-satisfied pride I rejoice in the contemplation of further but tiny achievement. It would be a discredit to call the particle of my ambition a worthy advance yet its restorative effect is for me incontrovertible. My fettle is aligned with segments both archaic and vintage. It is nothing as infectious as a fine bottle of wine or as vibrant as a swig of dry sherry – though both I confess have their inarguable allure. The underlying addiction of my unstoppable resolve is for me striking. I haven’t yet lost my epicurean devotion.