When the erstwhile appetites dwindle – as they surely must – there is no reason not to replace them. Much of the consternation about what to do instead arises from the mistaken belief that the past had it all. The past however quite literally disappears in the present. It is accordingly no indignity to contemplate what else one might do to fulfill whatever ambition of production persists. When I was in prep school in the Upper Sixth Form preparing for final exams in May of 1968 I occupied what little leisure I had by going to the back field behind the tennis courts and lay in the sun to get a tan. Afterwards in June I flew to Europe where my parents, my sister and I spent a month on the Costa Brava near Barcelona. By the time we subsequently reached Paris en route to Stockholm I was so brown that my friend Ricardo Schmeichler who arranged to meet me on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées didn’t recognize me.
It may sound a continuation of the past that I have not given up my tanning affection to this day but the preoccupation is now far more serious. I can safely say that at this stage of my life tanning is a 6-month agenda. Today for example – and yesterday for that matter – I spent a full five hours at the beach, lying in the sun, interrupting myself only to swim in the sea. It is a dutiful performance.
But here’s the catch – it’s all so pleasant that I fear I’m having too much fun, that somehow I mustn’t be so devoted to patent indolence of this order. The problem isn’t just the pleasure of it all, it’s also the concern that I am not fulfilling a higher level of accomplishment. Yet after having dwelt upon this burning issue throughout the day today – and possibly throughout my broken sleep last night – I have concluded that my absorption in the limited raptures I now have is sufficient by any standard.
I further eclipse any remaining despondency by recalling the more favourable idle preoccupations which currently stimulate me – bicycling, photography, writing and music. Strangely all of them coalesce to produce one very palatable eventuality – gratification.
Lest this thesis appears contrived it was only this morning – before I had ventured abroad on my bicycle to Lido Key – that I communicated with two different people regarding distinct matters yet both of which prompted the same photographic theme. The first was an historic recollection of the Paramount Hotel owned by an ancient family friend in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.
The second allusion arose from a trip by an acquaintance to Ireland. This photograph reminded me of the historic architecture of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The fact that the ingredients of my amusement arise from various places about the globe only proves my point that the elemental features of one’s current appetites are limitless. I don’t feel there is the necessity to enlarge the scope of one’s appetites but it is nonetheless comforting to know they’re not hopelessly narrow.