The tidy sum

Often I have speculated to be metaphorical about life; you know, expressing oneself in a fictional or figurative way while drawing upon one’s experiences, attempting to elevate an otherwise humdrum diary or biography to something literary or allegorical, something more intriguing, perhaps with a lesson or at least a point. But I can never detach myself sufficiently from either the currency or the reality of my monotony to invoke a more imaginative production.  No doubt the dilemma is that I unvaryingly attach complacent significance to what has transpired in my life without the persuasion of metaphor.

Certainly however there persists a degree of anxiety about the exposition of life – either literal or impressionistic – if one adopts anything approaching publicity. Before technology overtook my life – that is, essentially before computers – anything I wrote was strictly personal, confined entirely to what were handwritten or typed notes in various forms of bound plain or lined paper, everything from my first tiny plastic covered pad with a lock and key to my legal size hard cover lined foolscap paper to my leather bound gold embossed 3-ring binder for insertion of typed manuscript to my hard cover book of lined paper which I kept at the office and in which I wrote with my Mont Blanc Diplomat fountain pen. These numerous collections remained stored on a shelf or in a desk drawer until I retired; then, I had them shredded.  By that time I had begun storing my writing on a computer which I found more efficient and presentable.

The noticeable change in the substantive character of my writing occurred by accident.  After retirement I commissioned the son of a former client to set up a web site on the internet (the web site on which I am now composing). I had intended to use the web site to manage whatever was pertinent to my proposed election to municipal council.  The late Desmond Houston (former Clerk/Treasurer of the Town of Almonte and former President of Mississippi River Power Corporation) had encouraged me to seek election.  His flattering proposal aligned at the time with my ambition to do something useful after retirement.  Nonetheless after spending time in Florida that summer immediately prior to the election, I concluded in a lurch that I could not do both, so I withdrew my candidacy. We spent the next decade wintering on Hilton Head Island, Daytona Beach Shores, Longboat Key and Key Largo. I have never regretted the abandoment of what I know is the extremely hard work of municipal representatives.

Having exhausted the utility of the web site created for political usage, I translated the platform to what is euphemistically called a blog which I guess is the popular term for diary. Suddently everything I was writing was technically public; or at the very least I felt the obligation to observe hitherto unnecessary restrictions. This in turn enlarged significantly when I started using the Substack platform to harbour my blogs because I now had identifiable subscribers who might regularly or on occasion read the stuff I had written. For the record I must acknowledge as well the kindness and influence of Edith Cody-Rice, Publisher of our local electronic newspaper The Millstone as she invited me to be a contributing columnist, a devotion I gleefully pursued for a number of years.

After 7 years of loyally contributing to the Millstone, Bill Chapman has decided to end his weekly columns. Bill was one of our first contributors, sending us weekly Friday columns starting just after the birth of the Millstone in 2011. He wrote on everything from world affairs to his eating habits and dispensed philosophy with a light and humorous touch.

So here I am, 60 years later, still writing my nonsense much as I did when I first began keeping a diary at boarding school in 1963 when I was 15 years old.  Instead of writing with a ballpoint pen while staring at a blank wall at my desk in Fourth House at St. Andrew’s College I am now typing with a computer while seated at my ample mahogany desk upon the second floor of a hilltop apartment overlooking the Mississippi River and the endless agricultural fields beyond.  Only two days ago I chatted with a couple who similarly downsized from larger digs; and we unhesitatingly confirmed that we have all the space we require and that the view is inexpressible, overcoming any possible remorse.

As part of my on-going synthesis of events in my own life, I undertook yesterday on the 1st day of March (which for whatever reason I consider noticeable) a further amendment of my writing platform. As much as popularity has always been a feature of my life, whether unwittingly or by design, I have now concluded that I may usefully abandon any platitudes evoked traditionally by public performance.  I no longer have roommates at school; I no longer have a law practice; I have already quitted the political arena; and I cannot now fashion any other imperative for the preservation of any particular vernacular.  This is not to suggest that I shall lapse into rude or vulgar conveyances; or, unlike some authors whom I’ve read, I shall not dwell upon matters lascivious; nor to be clear have I any intention of making known what are predominantly personal features of family, friendship or acquaintance.

What I do intend to do however – and as clearly as possible – is revoke any ambivalence about any possible audience of these expositions. It is still true that I am writing for a preferred intellect, ones with whom I have a familiarity and for whom I may even have a limited design or purpose.  Yet as much as possible I shall commensurately maintain my own entitlement to expound upon whatever intrigues me. The scope of this enterprise is unquestionably limited.  The tidy sum of my life is far from marvelous or egregious. But I haven’t an ounce of remorse about any of it.  Overnight as I lay in bed attempting to quell the neuropathy of my legs and feet I contemplated many of the moments of life upon which I seldom dwell or remotely recall. Introspection is likely a standard preoccupation of the elderly, not merely because there is nothing else to do but because it is pleasing to have enough time to look back without feeling it is wasted time.  There are many events in my life which until this idle reflection I hadn’t known had such significance or bearing. Likewise I derive pleasure to brood upon the present circumstances which are equally propitious.