The Greedy Hedonist

It requires mile upon mile to bring a rolling freight train to a complete halt. There is similarly a remarkable inertia acquired over 40 years of zealous and uninterrupted employment. It is a seasoned condition, an unrelenting propulsion, a perpetual and seemingly unstoppable ambition. It does however in time subside. One’s ship eventually comes in and docks for good. I am at last cultivating a habit of a new order: unmitigated leisure, my own brand of purposelessness. Instead of the ringing of the telephone or the knocking at the door I content myself to listen to the soothing chorus of the wind in a stand of poplar trees, the unmistakeable desktop music for nowhere to go, nothing to do.

My enterprise is a vacuity shamelessly dedicated to indulgence. I no longer seek objectives beyond my immediate scope. I succumb to the unanticipated bliss which surrounds me and willfully distance myself from erstwhile more deliberate proclivities. This includes the adoption of strategies which frankly collide with the way I once did business. Having the unhurried opportunity to scrutinize my former methods of interaction has bared the unglamorous underbelly of my schemes. Rather than develop new tactics for dealing with the same problems, I prefer to rise above them (which I confess is probably nothing more intricate than ignoring the problems altogether). Suffice it to observe that the complications of my life are not limited to tangible obstructions (which usually admit to resolution or acceptance) but include more philosophic and challenging skirmishes involving people (conundrums which are not so easily finessed). It amounts to an epiphany for me to recognize that – in the plainest of terms – it doesn’t matter what other people think. Naturally I won’t be so categorical as to counsel complete disregard for the opinions of others; rather I limit the circumspection to wholesale and unrefined adoption of their opinions. The extent of influence of others upon my conduct has at times qualified as reckless and I acknowledge that I have no one but myself to blame. Whence this obsequiousness flows is beyond my comprehension or curiosity. I have learned that the obedience is at best misleading and at worst damaging. In either case its deference is both unwarranted and undesirable. It is impossible to know the mind of another, so the presumption of understanding the import or persuasion of their judgment is speculative only (a conclusion made all the more indiscernible considering the very real possibility of connivance and political doublespeak). Quite aside from the liberating feature of thinking for oneself, life ultimately demands that we do so. It isn’t a matter of being flippant or intolerant, it’s just the necessity.

No doubt this light-bulb moment will seem paltry if not indeed somewhat retarded even moderately disdainful. Yet to look at the world through one set of eyes is for me novel. If nothing else I am fatigued by the baggage of other people’s influence. As I am a confessed social conspirator it offends my survival instincts to snap my fingers at the considered views of others. But at this ripe stage of my life I am similarly bound to avow the expediency of doing so. First, time is running out so any delay is exponentially wasteful; second and more importantly, the utility of relying upon the superior intellect of others is suspect. I say this not as a vengeful comparison but rather as a functional answer to the proposition. My preference is not for paramountcy; it is for disenthrallment. And that means making uninhibited choices howsoever blunt the rationality may be.

Where this brings me is here: I must trust my own palette for the taste of life (not entirely a preposterous plea I think you’ll agree, founded as it is upon a measure of logic). For me it resonates with practicality. What it affords me is the innocent privilege to embrace the mundane though neglected trivialities of my life, those artless gemstone colours. This includes the shameless resurgence of youthful sentiments. I recall for example the halcyon days in Toronto, flying down Avenue Road. My treasury of memories was never meant to be buried! But neither am I stuck in the past. My current status is no less appealing to me. Again and again I have echoed my astonishment in the winter at discovering myself nestled among the sea pines and palmetto ferns beside the sea, something I always hoped to do though honestly I never imagined how.

There is no question that I have capitulated to my unembellished passions, simple, relentless and inescapable desires. Everything about life pleases me. Is this not what we are exhorted to do? And I feel the constant need to record this euphoria, to exalt my pleasure and to share my delight! I am virtually rapacious in my desire to cull from life all that it has to offer. This greediness should not for a moment be confused with gluttony; I have no wish to make myself ill. This is a clinical exemplification of hedonism, certainly not mere intemperance and high-living. Indeed during this same period of awakening I have done all that I can to distance myself from self-destructive conduct (which, as I have indicated, perhaps sadly includes closing the door on the influence of some people).

My lot in life has been largely serendipitous. I would never for example suggest that it was by design; fluky might be more to the point. Rather like a pinball I have bounced from one obstruction to another and have luckily fallen into the right place in the end. It is characteristic of my life that I have always been happy wherever I land. Nonetheless this current amusement does I know have a predictable shelf-life. I intend to do whatever I can to savour it.