Spartan Joys

The closest assembly I know to a spartan sentience is that acquainted from time to time with an abstemious lifestyle. In my case this rare crusade is invariably a calculated translation from past indulgences to future deprivation with an eye to purifying recovery, indeed one resembling nascent sanctity. Granted the underlying theme of such alteration is normally ascetic compared to the historic or current framework which is more suitable I suppose in the minds of some to that of a philistine. It is nonetheless a qualified familiarity with the stark and uncomfortable mode of dispossession.  In point of fact, I oddly adopt the rigid conformity as a form of opulence even though it may carry the hallmarks of simplicity and plainness. Rather like the lucidity of a fine Cognac. There is admittedly a degree of rigour involved but nothing approaching what I would call discomfort or hair-shirt. It is predominantly a stern disposition – though plainly humble. Indeed the settlement upon this posture is one which by its element of frugality succeeds to filter life’s myriad of choices, rather akin to reduction of a vinaigrette to unsullied ingredients characterized by freshness like raw basil, extra virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar.

The spartan lifestyle is unquestionably a choice, an alternative to my current less restrained patterns of behaviour. The transition from familiarity and repetitive conduct to what I prefer to call rarefaction is easily accomplished – but only when stimulated by the need or desirability of doing so.  It is thus certainly nothing instinctive though entirely probative when it reaches the requisite stimulus as it did this morning upon removing myself from the lair. Thankfully for me I have in the past during enactments of similar austerity proven myself capable of modification in the extreme. I can reverse an unwholesome direction of conduct without hesitation. This admirable talent owes nothing to expertise or artistry; it is merely an adoption of a new course of action, the supremacy of which governs by little more persuasive than a petulant desire for change.  If I recall correctly, sometime this morning as I approached this scheme of improvement I spouted to no one in particular, “I’m fed up with myself!”

This afternoon we initiated the flavour of this putative overhaul. We received an invitation to call upon an ancient friend who had lately abandoned matters maritime on the east coast with Alex Colville in order to relocate to Ontario whence the bulk of his distinguished family derives and to this day abounds. It is a drawing card I suspect was for him especially irresistible because, as we discussed today while bobbing in his backyard pool, he is notably a homebody.

The sparsity of our catalogue for nutrition this afternoon was – by our prior direction and insistence – limited to exotic versions of Perrier or Sanpelligrino. The reserve of the beverages hardly prepared us for the fertility of intelligence which followed. By the natural threads of a buoyant conversation we touched upon the sometimes delicate history of family, capturing our own percolating knowledge of related geography as to what constituted the right or wrong side of the urban divisions. And like all rich colloquy it invited its own volcano of detail which had long ago hardened like dried earth beneath our respective beings. In short the time passed quickly but we nonetheless managed to preserve the strict social custom to remove ourselves after three hours – before the discarded fishbones began to smell.