I am reminded today of the huge importance of certain relationships in my lifetime. While I am tempted in a moment of gushing enthusiasm to embrace everyone with whom I’ve participated on any level (on the theory that it’s all good), my corresponding level of gin is thankfully not as high and I shall therefore sidestep the “I love you, Man!” proclamation for the entire universe for the time being. Instead I am presently mindful of those singular and refined associations which continue to percolate in my memory notwithstanding sometimes long periods of absence and silence.
Oddly what prompted this idle reflection was a FaceTime communication with long-standing friends in the South Pacific who, before signing off, mentioned the current local enthusiasm surrounding the upcoming America’s Cup yacht race, a heartfelt competition they described as “all or nothing“.
The thing is, I adore the image of sailing yachts! Matters nautical have forever inspired me astronomically, beginning with my initial collection of a Chelsea Ship’s Bell. There are so many happy moments in my life which are blended with the sea – everywhere from the roaring Atlantic Ocean in Halifax, NS to Cape Cod Bay in Provincetown, Massachusetts to the Gulf of Mexico on Longboat Key, Florida to the Tyrrhenian Sea from Olbia, Sardegna.
Being exiled for six months of the year to seaside habitation means a regular familiarity with the maritime expression. Throughout the past quarter century we have devoted ourselves to the seafaring theme. The preoccupation has however been muted to the extent that we’ve deliberately confined ourselves to small barrier islands along the Atlantic coast or to remote resorts in the Caribbean. The further consequence of these somewhat isolated venues is the development of an enormous – though unwitting – reliance upon one another while at the same time technically ignoring those with whom we once cavorted. It is far too late in life to pretend to expand upon the erstwhile alliances. What remains is the recollection and recognition of what previously transpired.
What it is that constitutes the “refined associations” of which I spoke is a mixture of ingredients. The primary attribute is that schoolboy alliance which derives from immediate and seemingly unpredictable fraternity; that is, a provocation founded on nothing more than the shared project or interests. I have often recalled the Shakespearean model of Prince Hal and Sir John Falstaff, an apparently unnecessary yet everlasting friendship.
Though primarily a comic figure, Falstaff embodies a depth common to Shakespeare’s major characters. A fat, vain, and boastful knight, he spends most of his time drinking at the Boar’s Head Inn with petty criminals, living on stolen or borrowed money. Falstaff leads the apparently wayward Prince Hal into trouble, and is ultimately repudiated after Hal becomes king.
I have always attached great significance to the nature of my so-called important relationships partly because I was effectively estranged from my immediate family when thirteen years of age when I was sent to school. I never returned to live with my family. We naturally maintained regular communication but it was always from a distance, initially from Canada (where I lived) to Europe (where my parents and sister lived); and subsequently from Toronto to Ottawa, then Ontario to Nova Scotia and finally from Almonte to Ottawa. My exchanges with family were of necessity confined mostly to seasonal visits or perfunctory acquaintances. Never however did I develop anything approaching a friendship with the members of my family; instead the propulsion was filial and all that that entails. I don’t for a minute regret the scope of those relationships; indeed I consider them part of the expected fabric of my particular escapade into life.
Meanwhile however I have maintained strong connections with friends. The growth of friendship is truly a natural progression. It is not unlike the nurturing of any other germination; viz., gradual, dependent on changing conditions, allied with the ground upon which the seeds land, mutuality of purpose, etc. Nor is it characterized by any particular thanks or recognition; mostly it is simply heartfelt, unintentional and innocent. It is thus that the achievement of the relationship is always no more than the friendship. All else is ulterior and simply good luck or added advantage. These are nonetheless both critical and distilled features of association. Succeeding to this level of purity, like gold shavings, is both unique and unusual.
Edible gold leaf is a gold product that can be used to decorate food. Gold is considered “biologically inert,” meaning it passes through the digestive tract without being absorbed. … It is one of the world’s priciest foods, but considering it is real gold, the sheets and flakes are relatively inexpensive.
These wonderful friendships, like the gold they are, are not for exhibition but rather purely private enjoyment. They represent for me an art form that is often beyond description or identification – comically perhaps not far removed from the maxim, “If she knows why she loves him she doesn’t“. It is in truth quite similar to any other authentic element of existence, one which speaks with a familiar voice and beacons the profound passion for living, contaminated by no more than adventure, transparency and inexplicable fortuity.