Though my day today was latterly disrupted by the necessity to buy a fitted bed sheet – a domestic adventure I can assure you is not to be diminished – I am seemingly nicely recovered. My disposition is as well realigned. I am poised to fashion a transparent and hopefully pleasing rendition of all that has transpired. Call me sentimental but it is my belief that these halcyon moments provide a stimulating and entirely digestible account for persons of any stripe.
Shortly after arising from my lair this morning – and while awaiting the first round of Tylenol Arthritis pain pills to kick in – I mistakenly completed an on-line purchase of a small teak stool. My intention of adding the item to the “Cart” had been only to delve deeper into the web site which was unfamiliar to me. My Apple credit card information was however processed with uncommon speed. Within seconds I received an email confirming my order. This precipitated a moment of deliberation.
Last night when I went to bed it was on my agenda today to visit the New Oak Tree, a local furniture manufacturer of solid oak pieces. After having been defeated yesterday in my search at another nearby store it refreshed me to recall the New Oak Tree. I telephoned this morning only to learn that they have nothing in stock and it would have to be made-to-order. It was this intelligence which had sparked my on-line investigation of other suppliers – and hence the subsequent mistaken order. What survives this tiny kerfuffle is that my instinct tells me the on-line piece is ideal for what I have in mind; namely, a convenient and durable bench to store beneath my electronic piano. The charcoal colour of the teak stool will blend agreeably and practically unnoticeably with the black coloured instrument – and will therefore unwittingly escape that interior decorator’s reprimand not to clash with the mahogany.
The reason (if you are curious to know) I am so visibly embroiled in this paltry bit of commerce is that it is the first time in over six years I have even contemplated the purchase of a new household furnishing. It stifles the blow to know that it is but a modest expenditure. When I retired from the practice of law in 2014 we sold a great deal of what we then owned – law practice, law office and furnishings (desks, chairs, Oriental rugs, paintings, candelabra and clocks), office building, house and furnishings (basically anything that didn’t go into the dishwasher), grand piano, jewellery and fine art. After such a violent transition I hardly need add that the mere prospect of buying anything new was decidedly reckless. In the place of exuberance we had settled for an adjustment to whatever judiciously remained. With the exception of my wheels, the conversion highlighted instead capital and accumulation. Essentially we’re content with two nourishing meals a day, a warm bed and the prospect of a new dawn!
The accommodation was hugely successful. For one thing there was no more sterling silver or brass to polish. I had however overlooked that when I sold the Steinway I sold with it the antique mahogany bench. It would naturally only have been purposeful to retain the bench (as I had in fact done when previously I sold my Heintzman grand) if I had a piano but I did not. It wasn’t until later in my first year of retirement that I purchased an electronic keyboard on Hilton Head Island. It came with a bench made of plastic and metal. The bench subsequently broke and instead of buying another I just used a chair from the dining table. That ad hoc feature at last became unbearable several days ago. With my spinal disability the habit of lugging a chair was almost toxic. Thus when by utter serendipity I stumbled upon a Canadian website which was plausible and had what appeared to be precisely what was required, my antediluvian purchaser’s instincts rumbled and percolated into recovery mode.
The first noted use of “serendipity” in the English language was by Horace Walpole on 28 January 1754. In a letter he wrote to his friend Horace Mann, Walpole explained an unexpected discovery he had made about a lost painting of Bianca Cappello by Giorgio Vasari by reference to a Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip. The princes, he told his correspondent, were “always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of.” The name comes from Serendip, an old name for Sri Lanka (Ceylon), hence Sarandib by Arab traders. It is derived from the Sanskrit Siṃhaladvīpaḥ (Siṃhalaḥ, Sri Lanka + dvīpaḥ, island).
The word has been exported into many other languages, with the general meaning of “unexpected discovery” or “fortunate chance”.
Incidentally I purchased as well within the past week a picture frame from Walmart (which I feel compelled to note was visited solely to purchase what are admittedly singularly attractive fake flowers). My original intention (formulated just this winter to incorporate a photo I had taken of a picture in a frame in our condominium on Longboat Key) had been to add my edited photograph to the new frame. In the end I was satisfied to retain the photo that came with the frame though the entire project is little more than fluff albeit benign fluff.
The frame fulfills my ambition to complete the decoration of the room (there was one nagging space on the wall). It also subdues the recollection that a local artist had undertaken but failed to produce a bespoke piece for me over a year ago. I further confined my squandering to only those items of marginal necessity – pointedly avoiding the trap of a cheap sparkling timepiece (but not a striped cotton bed sheet). My absorption in passenger vehicles persists.
The very meaning and significance of mankind’s creations swirled about my foggy subconsicious. The first and predominant ingredient is that which tackles the imperatives associated with advanced age. I mean, there comes a point when nothing matters. To confess that reduction and the whimpering bang theory of T. S. Eliot is for some an inductive leap. For others it is premature or misinterpreted. Whatever the conclusion it most certainly dilutes the immediate allure of hardware. The haunting posture that the cerebral surpasses the visceral is unsettling. It is so much easier to fall in love with a new thing than to suffer the indignity of asceticism!