Have you ever tried to make another pot of tea with the same tea bag? I suspect not. It’s an economy not even the most niggardly would likely attempt! Yet how often do we demand a similarly endless production of ourselves! Though tea is not my preferred ambrosia – my favourite is coffee, strong black French or Italian roast – I know enough about the ceremony of making tea to grasp that, aside from first heating the pot with some hot water and afterwards allowing the tea to steep, one would never think of re-using the leaves. There are simply limits to what is expected of even the most exotic Darjeeling!
My cursory examination of my past leads me to conclude that predominantly I have been intent upon doing my best whatever the particular circumstances – whether as a child at public school, or as a young man in university or as an adult professionally. I am not suggesting that my standards are either higher or different from those of most others; I’m simply recounting what apparently was a dedication to a benchmark. Where things get sticky is mucking the landscape with an expectation to go beyond one’s own ambition and somehow achieve the goal or perceived anticipation of others. It is normally plainly evident that one has crossed the line when the internal mechanism commences a minor revolt of some intensity. It may be merely an unsettling feeling, a mild sense that things have gotten out-of-hand, that you’re suddenly going in a direction which either you dislike or would not have undertaken. But the distortion is inarguable.
It is laughable that an educated, sober, mature person would succumb to such deterioration. And make no mistake it is a deterioration because the entire fabric of one’s being is immediately compromised or out-done. Recovering stability is not unlike setting the ship aright after the interference of a strong wind.
As is happens we experienced a strong easterly wind today. This in my admittedly limited experience is not common on Longboat Key. The wind is normally directly from the north or the south, either cold or warm. In this instance however the disturbance is from the east which means it’s coming off the Atlantic Ocean. The singularity of the weather reflects the crosswinds evident in a similar interruption of personal expression. If we allow ourselves to be blown off-course by an unpredicted influence we naturally risk capsizing. Aside from the metaphorical illustration, the situation becomes simply uncomfortable.
The other crucial reality is that not everyone is a good sailor. If one either toys with the rudder or chooses to attack the torrent more aggressively in hopes of somehow dealing with it, the step however unwittingly is taken to project oneself into a strange domain. Speaking for myself I readily concede especially at this late stage of my life that I haven’t any compelling interest to broaden my scope of performance. I’m pretty much done with climbing mountains and trying new adventures. Truthfully I have so many uneventful particles of my life that I relish with fervour that I have happily descended into the realm of laxity.
It may chasten the curmudgeonly complacency to acknowledge two factors: one, that there’s only so much anyone of us can do; and two, that time is running out. Granted these propositions are tainted with elements of capitulation and meekness. Conveying these theorems as other than a manifesto but simply as a reasoned choice may however require an abundance of candidness. Speaking plainly is not always the most digestible language. It is axiomatically blunt and direct. But like most other statements, if you know what you’re doing, you’re able to explain it simply. The risk is that the plainness has the appearance of a mere adage, a catchy observation which lacks personal flavour.