by L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.
It is unthinkable that any authoritative and self-respecting lexicon would pretend to advance an authentic meaning of the word chillin’. What little research (if I may dignify an internet enquiry as such) I’ve conducted leads me to conclude that the term can embrace anything from the intermediate stage of an amorous relationship to consumption of nefarious combustibles. But otherwise there is no legitimacy to the prefatory assertions. What could possibly acquaint us with its etymology! One source, the so-called Urban Dictionary suggests it means “To be in a state of prolonged satisfactory boredom. A positive phase of behing, not regarded as behing bored but not in the process of doing anything worth elaborating upon” (spelling deliberate). A more digestible interpretation is “a relaxed mode” or “being quiet and carefree“. An incisive explanation may be, “Doing nothing that involves effort that you dont wanna do, so it means the only effort your doing is the effort you want to put into life” (spelling deliberate). If all that penetration fails to impress, then consider it the present participle of chill or an alternative form of chilling; a shortened adaptation from chill out. There!
The amorphous nature of the word oddly captures my day. Most certainly I only did what I wanted to do today. That included lingering over my morning breakfast and coffee until almost noon; a grudging afternoon bicycle ride to – but not quite – Ponce Inlet then a renegade detour back along Peninsula Drive; a rather ruminative and at times melancholy performance on the Yamaha grand piano (to the weeping delight of a gatecrasher in the lounge); and my benchmark evening meal followed by chuffed email exchanges with episodic correspondents. In sum, it was a day of predominantly mollycoddled glee.
What diluted the sunniness of the day was a struggle to settle mundane domestic matters involving perfect strangers. In other words, matters bordering on business. My native impatience worked against me when it came to wrapping up these vulgar details. I am chronically anxious to put things behind me! In this context all the talk in the world about basking in the moment is completely wasted upon me. Frankly I characterize it as perverse to fathom extracting pleasure from household undertakings. I know what it is that I enjoy and that – I am sorry to say – does not include accommodating other people’s agenda (which pointedly are frequently contaminated by extrarodinary delay or negligent oversight). The progress we made was not without effort. Nor did it help to have to endure the commercial platitudes of these inexperienced entrepreneurs who are painfully slow to recognize a seasoned participant such as myself. Youth! I confess too the explosive eruption of curmudgeonly behaviour. “Grumpy Old Men” for example flashed through my mind. Oh well…
The palliatives for this intolerable interference was the immortal E. F. Benson’s “Mapp and Lucia” series (having the added advantage of being beyond copyright), recollecting anecdotes about ancient friends and a profound afternoon nap. I also relented to the persuasive influence of my imagination. That included unlicensed meanderings into the tranquil harbours of anticipation. At my age there are incrementally fewer opportunities to revel in the prospect of the future. The days of eat, drink and be merry are long gone. One must of necessity be judicious about one’s ventilations. There is invariably the risk of lapsing preposterous (as old men are at times comically wont do in matters sartorial or in the choice of automobile or companion). Barring such ludicrousness however there abide certain private indulgences which are neither indecorous nor unrewarding. A telescope may work for one; a camera for another; or perhaps a stick of furniture, a chunk of crystal, a gold-nibbed fountain pen or an antique volume.
The unfortunate ally of anticipation is its inevitable disappointment. Though we’re greedy for the dopamine and its adrenalin that stimulates excitement, the fulfillment of the objective is predictably fraught with let-down. It is for that reason that serendipitous events are so highly extolled because they’re unanticipated. Yet we persist in our contrivances. Until we resort to the philosophic conclusion that all is vanity (and perhaps spend our remaining days sequestered with our book and a bottle) there is yet time to risk a scheme for an uplifting experience (somewhat akin to hoping to go the grave as a pauper than as a millionaire). I don’t of course imagine for a minute that I am capable of calculating the necessary economy for the achievement of that ambition but I can tempt the odds with a bit of roulette.
In the end it is but a diversionary tactic to amuse oneself with such initiatives. Neither the evangelist nor the hedonist will escape the frozen truth in the end. And I am not convinced that one or the other is better prepared for the result. Meanwhile life continues to serve up its vagaries, its contests, its bumpers and rapids. In the turbulence of one’s daily life it is quite impossible to arrest the flow. I find myself shouting at the shoreline as I race by on my speedy descent to the falls. But whether anyone hears – or even if they do, whether they care – is open to question. We’re all just a bunch of flies in a bottle and it hardly matters what is the distinguishing character of any one of us. Buzzing about and bumping into one another is standard fare. It is perhaps asking too much to expect anything from anyone. Whether I would even expect the same from myself is doubtful! And do we have the capacity? Can we possibly be prompted by altruism? Or is it all pragmatic survival?