Lengthening shadows of autumn

We’ve lately been treated to exceptionally pleasant weather. It distinguishes itself by being uncommonly welcoming for November which I traditionally associate with grey and chill in keeping with the image of Armistice Day ceremonies. Today by comparison was the warmest it has been. The yellow sunshine poured forth from the blazing orb in the lower sky! Truly it is difficult to exaggerate the splendour of the day! Earlier this morning after our unimpressive 6km bicycle ride about the neighbourhood I threw myself into a rigid chair on the patio in the back garden and stared into the blaze. For the next forty minutes I stared into the blinding rays of sunlight. I dreamt. It was completely soporific.

Beginning one’s day with the display of such appeasement is I know a small compliment! I will however accept the prescription of those better informed than I who encourage me to persist in my indolence. Indeed though I have in my private moments considered the possibility of contribution to the local scheme of things, I have on reconsideration concluded that my capacity is noticeably diminishin every respect. I cannot for example say that after having devoted myself for the past year to the five volumes, each of about 1,000 pages, of Thomas Babington Macaulay’s “History of England from the Accession of James II” I have any currency to my knowledge base.

I have by contrast discovered the advantage of removal from detail and the artistic metamorphosis of obscurity and generality. To a degree everything is a bit of blur in old age. The transition is propelled not only by aging but also by the incremental speed with which things pass by. It is by either assessment a natural progression to be accepted whatever its consequence.

No doubt each one of us has a list of events which summarize the record of change in one’s life. My curiosity arises not only from the celebrated moments of advancement but also the markers of defeat or embarrassment. It amuses me that those occasions which I might first be inclined to characterize as defeat are upon recalculation the exact opposite. Whether our evolution is dignified by, “What’s bred in the bone will out in the flesh!” or the “Acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree” or some such similar adage, the inescapable truth is that most of us have our limitations. What matters is how we see them. This is especially true when the settlement is driven by comparisons. Comparison is an inferior governor. It must be a decision from within motivated by personal interest and appeal not popular persuasion.

My account of personal events are aligned with one constancy; and that is my parents and sister. For as along as I can recall I have concerned myself with the well-being and approbation of my immediate family. It was reflected in my youthful and monotonous daily bedtime prayers; it mattered on Prize Day at prep school; it mattered when I graduated from undergraduate studies and law school; in fact it mattered when just about anything of note or merit transpired in my social, commercial or spiritual world. Though there were from time to time, and certainly now, those who mattered as well, the thread is my family.

As a result, when my father died in 2014 and my mother in 2018, there was a sudden fall into an unaccustomed state of emptiness. There was nothing particularly demonstrable about the events other than the sense I had that an entire section of my past had been summarily removed from my perspective. It naturally encouraged me to reflect upon the past and to extract therefrom the further hints I discovered about my parents’ personalities and their familial expressions. My conclusion has been that they are a hard act to follow.  I do however qualify that apparent exclusivity by noting that from my admittedly remote outlook as an unmarried old fogey of insufferable navel gazing virtuosity, my sister and her husband are close seconds. I will spare my reader further descent into this historic regard by including other descendants and broadened familial ties. But be assured they exist!

I was about to say, “So my new life began 2018 following the deaths of my parents”. As silly and as seemingly meaningless as that my sound, my head took a hard turn straight ahead.  Gone was the motive for any asides. I paradoxically felt like a parent whose children had  grown up and moved away. My involvement with the critical legal and financial affairs of my parents went back a long way.  It was a matter of increased management when they began to decline.  And finally there were the attendances upon death.

What mustn’t be overlooked is the relief acquainted with the finality. For once not only did I not have to worry about what they thought, more importantly there was no one among the historic phantoms who cared! The transition began a new era of thinking.  Oddly much of what I have subsequently thought is the sometimes disturbing ways in which I am like my parents. It’s undoubtedly a hard fact to face that there may indeed be some strength to blood relationship.