In its broadest terms life is either personal or public. Or as my erstwhile chain-smoking philosophy professor may have preferred, “The world is divided into ashtrays and non-ashtrays.” In either instance the compelling authenticity of the global thesis is a binary conclusion. At first blush the variance of the internal and external world – or the difference between what transpires within our orbit or beyond – might be imagined identical or at the very least similar. This however is not necessarily so. The adage holds undiminished that, “It depends how you look at it!” The frozen truth is that what one sees outside very much depends upon what one sees inside; and, depending upon the view, the perspectives may or may not coincide. And more importantly the perfect picture may be more within than without.
The relevance of the distinction is that our search for the perfect picture is not simply for the purity of the so-called external world. My ambition is not to establish a connection between the inner or outer worlds of our experiences. Rather I seek to secure a digestible and plausible expression and experience of whatever is my impression. There are so many undisclosed and disregarded features of our being which insinuate our ultimate recognition – such immediate issues as fatigue, hunger, health and emotion or the more remote impact of the economy or the stock market.
As a starting point there is frequently a tendency to spend time assessing what was done or accomplished in the past. This isn’t merely historic or idle reflection. It may instead capture a more universal theme of devotion to perfection of one order or another. Consider for example a recollection of one’s public school days. The chatter inevitably approaches an assessment of not only one’s scholastic skills but also predictable commentary about athletic achievement or social involvement on the school newspaper or student council. Eventually that tolerable accountancy is replaced by the less than cosmetic appraisal of one’s anticipated professional career or marriage bond. These palatable issues of education, marriage and employment are considered “standards” of behaviour and accomplishment. Caution must be preserved to resist spoiling an artistic veneer with a retail collaboration. Once again the evident disparity between what we actually do and what we believe we should do are not necessarily the same; and the failure to recognize that unevenness may contaminate a more delicate rendition.
For those of us who haven’t the accelerated advantage of a spouse, children and grandchildren it is but a simple deduction to conclude that the lesser goal of job status and capital are perhaps singularly consuming.
There is nonetheless a critical feature of the ideal performance; namely, whether the external salve sufficiently soothes the more deep-seated and impenetrable aspirations. Call me old fashioned but I harbour the possibly mistaken view that all humanity pines for a similarly favourable outcome. Barring the incontrovertible needs of air, water, food, sleep and shelter it is conceivable that each of us might ultimately be satisfied with a good rest, a full stomach, sunshine and blue sky.
It is likely nothing more than yet another collateral of aging that I have reduced my appetite adequately that I now adjudge a good day by the so-called “simple” pleasures. It helps too that I have succeeded to escape the entanglement of employment. Considering what I have just said, it is small wonder that I am able to convince myself daily of life’s plentitude!