Until I have had my morning shower, brushed my hair and applied the requisite skin cream, I live in fear of what lies before me. So accustomed am I to duty and obligation – contaminated as it is by the Protestant Work Ethic – that until I set myself in gear for the perfunctory performances of the day there lingers a distant remorse. The ruefulness is however speedily ditched upon fulfilling the native obligations of breakfast and coffee. Cleanliness and food are the minimalistic ingredients of accomplishment.
Speaking of which, last evening His Lordship prepared a soup of vegetables. This denomination I find captures the culinary superiority which would not instinctively attach to “vegetable soup“. The predominance is its homemade nature – which pointedly includes with the vegetables nothing more than water and freshly squeezed lemon juice. I am embarrassed to record that this Stoic repast follows on the heels of a less than healthful consumption of butter tarts, Nutella, Becel and peanut butter (albeit without additives). Regrettably I have a history of devotion to my appetites – whatever they may be – which invariably augment my already protuberant belly or deplete my modest financial resources. Merely thinking about one’s appetites does little to defeat or overcome their appeal and remorse.
For the time being however I have the undeniable – almost artistic – privilege of dry toast, a wedge of Camembert, homemade apple sauce and a reviving cup of chilled, black coffee. Such is the purity of restrained consumption! And I intend to vaunt it!
The expression of plentitude – whether it attaches to objects or food – is something which inevitably and paradoxically reduces itself to elemental features, among them simplicity, quality and uniqueness. These dry and limiting features are nonetheless invigorating. While I could never seriously advance that I abhor excess, the tide of my conduct is ascetic by comparison. I perhaps flatter myself to report that by acknowledging the current limitations of both time and space we have instead cultivated an alliance with the best we have. The preservation of this posture is however not without its constraint. It’s the old mind-body dichotomy. As any burgeoning philosopher will tell you, “Man does not live by bread alone!” Quite apart from the stinging religious innuendo of the adage, there remains the impenetrable truth that emotion and reason are very different catalogues! While I suppose it is technically possible that one can have too much of prudence, its chimera tends to outshine excess.
The greater exposure at this particular season is the galloping exchange of cheerful cards, evergreen wreaths and Christmas emails. Admittedly it deters the frost from view – that is, unless we’re visited by a brilliant sunshine glittering across a snow-covered field.