It requires but a moment of idyll reflection to initiate an equally peaceful recollection of a former friend or acquaintance with whom one has momentarily lost touch. And from that blissful allusion instantly arises the question, “I wonder how she’s doing?” or some curiosity of a similar nature. Staying in touch with family, friends and acquaintances is an important part of the human cycle. By the same token, failing to keep in touch is as damaging as the alternative is improving. On both sides of the fence, separation or absence is something to be defeated only by staying in touch.
The mere act of staying in touch is uplifting for both parties notwithstanding the content or length of the communication. It is foremost an expression of community, that relieving ingredient which smoothes and soothes what is otherwise abrasive social distance. It is a reminder too that in spite of any other so-called “realities” there persists the psychological boon that we’re not alone in the universe. And very often the dialogue reminds us as well that everyone has their problems however preoccupied we may have been with our own. This isn’t the “misery/company” thing; rather it is the admission that living is universally complicated and to a degree punishing.
Speaking for myself (and I suspect for others too), it is a peril of aging that we incrementally become remote from humanity. For some the isolation is related to health. Others are in back of beyond, off the beaten track. Some in consequence of a history of dismay are unapproachable or inaccessible. But even if one were in the backwoods or irrelevant, all are assured to be lonesome. It is therefore imperative to make an enquiry and to fulfill the examination accordingly.
As it happens I have lately had the pleasure and privilege to engage in this very ideal. And it has proven to be a two-way street, not because both I and my correspondent relished the exchange, but because each of us has alternatively initiated the desirable maxim. Yesterday for example, quite unexpectedly I received a telephone call from a younger female friend whom I have known for many years but with whom our connections have been sporadic at best partly because I’ve been out of country for prolonged periods but also because each of us has had the proverbial things to do to keep us busy and otherwise occupied. All this is to say, getting the ‘phone call was a thoroughly welcome treat. We gabbed on and on for a long time, catching up, exchanging pleasantries, irrelevancies and quips, and generally reminding one another that we cared.
By a similar account my niece and my partner’s nephew each independently communicated with us yesterday, my niece by email, my partner’s nephew in person. While this may sound like small accommodation it is in fact singular because both relatives are younger and have critical issues on their plate (coincidentally both involving romantic dissolution, relocation to new digs and all that that entails). Nonetheless our heartfelt communications were successful to remind one another of the relevancy of our familial connections and the expediency of stimulating those worthy alliances.
Today is a snowy day. As I have no necessity to travel abroad for any reason whatsoever I prefer in these circumstances to remain at home. Specficially I have abandoned for the moment at least (though I still maintain a watchful eye on the fields and river beyond) any ambition to drive the car along the country roads. It is likely assured that until the snow stops, the roads will remain obstructed or at the very least dirtied by the current conditions; not exactly an ideal envelope for motor vehicle travel.
As I pondered these and related matters complementing a snowy day confined to our winning little apartment, it occurred to me to call an old friend and colleague who lives not far away but remotely enough to be “out of sight, out of mind”. He is a gentleman with whom I practised law in the Town of Almonte many years ago. He was I suppose the second (I was the first) of about five lawyers who subsequently qualified as the “newbies” to the local legal community after the retirement of Raymond Algernon Jamieson QC in 1976 (who in his own right closed the generation of distinguished lawyers of which Mr. Justice Charles James Newton QC had been a part, those 2nd floor Mill Street lawyers who famously communicated with one another by tapping on their adjoining walls when it was time for lunch). Then followed the first female lawyer in Lanark County; then a failed lawyer who was disbarred; and finally a lawyer devoted only to Family Law and cooperative settlements. Since then I lost track because I was nearing retirement (2014) and many of the recent lawyers practiced in areas unrelated to what was my chosen niche of estate planning.
My erstwhile colleague and I had as usual a profitable confab. His is always assured to be succinct and direct, a refreshing option to what are otherwise tedious or tortuous conversations. To my limited knowledge he comes from a family of professionals so there is an element of that authenticity of social demeanour which survives only such notable beginnings. Not uncharacteristically his evolution has in the latter stages swung to the more artistic features of drawing and theatre. Indeed it is by no means unusual that those who are trained in the law choose to divert to the fine arts or to literature and writing. By contrast I have known lawyers who switch to and from the clergy and the law. One in particular from Ottawa succeeded from a successful practice and provincial political elevation to employment in the Vatican. The mysteries of the law and the divine have never been entirely disjointed in my opinion but that is substance I’ll save for another time.
Meanwhile, as I say, for the time being I am satisfied to “retire to the country with my book and my bottle” (which I employ only figuratively of my agreeable state of mind at my desk with my chilled coffee and sliced green apple). The tiny particles of snow continue to fall upon the balcony railing and the fields beyond. The river has of a sudden become blanketed in white with only shavings of darkness exposing the occasional transparency of water. It is in short a wintry day, ideal for lounging at home and wondering, “What ever happened to…?”