Taking stock

The estimate of meaning is for me a plodding process.  Things don’t necessarily “jump out” at me. More often than not I’m bound to return to an overall view of a matter before certain of its details unfreeze sufficiently to form part of the drinkable mix.  As a lawyer the professional preoccupation was tolerable on several counts.  For one thing it meant that I at least acknowledged the possibility of initial oversight.  Additionally it afforded a chance to reconsider the material and possibly enlarge upon its ingredient significance. Finally the process of taking stock is determination of cutoff points, discarding what is perhaps useless or out-dated. Taking stock is laborious and regularly leads to downtime of other projects. For me the interruption constitutes an imperative to the overall enjoyment of life without which I feel I am anchored and immobile. The element of obsession is more intrusive to those who in my opinion unjustifiably diminish the value of the process.

Stock-taking or “inventory checking” or “wall-to-wall” is the physical verification of the quantities and condition of items held in an inventory or warehouse. This may be done to provide an audit of existing stock. It is also the source of stock discrepancy information.

Unquestionably within the sphere of personal stock-taking the undertaking is partly devoted to an abstract assessment. I say “partly” because the underlying themes of even the loftiest abstraction are frequently downright material or earthly if you will. In short the concern about money and possessions is nonetheless connected to the needs of the mind and spirit perhaps echoing the philosophic mind-body dichotomy. This very human need for unification of the earthly and the ethereal has long been recognized by those seeking to profit from the activity in one form or another. Without engaging in a litany of those who govern or formalize these campaigns, my point is only to confirm that the lark is not especially unusual.

For many people their sights are directed only to the present.  While that amorphous label has with some accuracy been characterized to be all that there is, the reality for me is somewhat more critical in that I wantonly assume there will be a tomorrow. The division of existence into such categories as the past, present and future doesn’t of itself overcome any particular hurdle in what should be one’s sole devotion to happiness but it does by definition amount to itemized analysis whatever the production. I find for example that I improve my current state of comprehension to know that I have a place to live for the foreseeable future. This derogation from clinical predictability nonetheless affords a degree of satisfaction.

As far as the past goes my greater analysis arises not so much from what it was but rather from what it bears upon my present circumstances. What for example was the effect of one’s parents upon one’s nature and being? What psychiatric influence were the elements of one’s past? It may even include the blunt advantage of chance. It is not uncommon to hear movie stars and pop singers report upon the advantage, disadvantage and resulting propulsion of their past. The account reflects the inescapability of the importance of stock-taking.

The odd thing about taking stock is that it doesn’t of itself change anything.  It merely provides a springboard from which to proceed. How that information is synthesized is normally determinative of its value. In some instances – say the confrontation of an addiction or of a matrimonial difficulty – the review can be especially beneficial when the facts are sketched and coloured. In other cases the putative exploration is little more than twirling a spoon in a bowl of soup.

The utility of the project frequently involves a numerical ordination. I find these broad delineations couched in the featureless terms of mathematics strengthens the more changeable definitions of emotional or even physical nature. I break down life into the elemental features of nutrition, lodging and relationships. The sub-categories are naturally infinite, encompassing a wide variety of artistic stimulants much broader than food; including a medley of material possessions; and a limitless scope of employment, political and personal connections. Clearly the possibility of complete stock-taking is impossible. It is a venture to stop the world from turning. But whatever its outcome it may at least give the temporary benefit of reflection. It is somewhat easier to know where to go if you know where you are.