Quelling the Madness

Bill-Columnby L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.

The punishment of the US post-election frenzy has already been mostly blunted. How soon we synthesize catastrophe!  Besides I’ve always flattered myself upon my capacity to digest even the most uncomfortable intelligence.  The secret? I don’t just disregard it; I concede its truth. And when, as in this case, the matters aren’t my immediate personal concern it is naturally easier to accommodate the otherwise distressing details.

It also helps in this instance to read the journal commentary which has afforded an insight of what buoyed Trump’s campaign to victory.  I almost hate to admit it but there is some cogency to what he said, at least from the perspective of his reputed audience. But I won’t deny that it has been a stressful reconciliation. There are reports of nationwide demonstrations against Trump as President-elect notwithstanding the very noble words of President Barrack Obama about unity and the peaceful transfer of power.  Small wonder the global financial markets have become so jittery in the wake of these events. The sensitivities of millions have been touched by this election and recuperation may yet be slow in coming, if indeed ever.  It is impossible to escape entirely the view of Trump as a madman with olympic ambitions for power and revenge. I am somewhat consoled in this apocalypse by the observation of a friend of mine:

As for Trump, remember the doctrinal dogma of grace. Even if a corrupt person is made a priest, the benefits which he brings to the sacraments remain undiluted by his impure personal nature and they remain sufficient for salvation.

So, with Trump. He may prove a wondrously clever president despite his obvious moral failings.

Michael Tweedie, B.A. (Hons), M.A., M. Litt., M.L.S., LL.B.

Meanwhile I am doing whatever I can to quell the pandemonium which percolates within me.  It may sound astonishing to admit to such persistent internal psychosis but the fact is that I am demonized by conflict from almost any source whether it touches me personally or not.  For example, even watching a compelling television drama can succeed to unhinge me temporarily. I excuse my susceptibility to such trifling influences by telling myself I have an ungovernable imagination. It may just be a mutation of my instinctive response to music which in many instances alters my mood or view.  I can be brought to tears upon hearing just the right chords. Whatever the cause, whether a raucous election or a tempestuous hurricane, these incidentals in life are not without their penetrating ramifications.  I am bound to confront them eventually and I am equally intent upon reducing them to dust. It is not my preference to be in state of perpetual anxiety as much as I appreciate the capacity for alteration.

At the same time as I subdue the uncontrolled inertia of elections, drama, music and intemperate weather, I aim to impose organization upon my material world, the demonstrable and metaphorical furniture of my being.  This project is not inconsistent with having just landed on Hilton Head Island for the winter. We’re imperceptibly adjusting to our residential environment, a condominium in South Beach at the vortex of Calibogue Sound, the Atlantic Ocean and Daufuskie Island. The southwestern view from our second floor prospect is always beguiling particularly at the end of the day when the sun sets and the Ocean is sapphire blue, the horizon is pink dotted by diamonds of light from the distant shore and the vast sky is an ever-diminishing violet. This place will never compete with the warmth of our apartment in Canada where we have our collection of favourite things, rugs and paintings. Our winter digs therefore demand a certain hesitancy for the incorporation of its hardware. But it is only a matter of habituation which must transpire, a task made supportable or possibly irrelevant by its impermanent nature.  And of course there is the trial and error arising from setting up computing devices, deciding upon an appropriate parking spot (where the sap and cones from the enormous pine trees will not plummet upon the vehicle), loading drawers with clothing and smalls and hanging things appropriately in the closets, plus the purchase of an unimaginable array of household items to which we are accustomed. Thankfully this is our seventh year on the Island so we have the advantage of having chosen our most-liked stores for groceries, specialty foods, apparel, shoes, hardware, jewellery, not to mention a dentist, hair salon and car wash.  Let’s face it, knowing where to go for those things eliminates a lot of confusion and helps to settle the mind.

Though I detest saying so (because I suspect it betrays an intellectual weakness) I am a lover of routine. By definition one would surmise that the cultivation of routine requires the lapse of time for its generation. But it is something I formulate quickly. I don’t confound the project by amplifying the possibilities of conduct. Essentially my motivations are ease and production; and if those elements prevail, then I’ll go with the result. Unquestionably our routine here is very different from what it is at home.  Here there is a welcome removal from all but the most fundamental obligations; namely, sleep, food, cycling, rest and relaxation, not exactly a taxing format by most standards. It is a highly selfish enterprise, at times a lonely one (though our 21-year relationship is quite capable of surviving periodic insularity). Sometimes I am drawn into the mêlée and called upon to employ my on-line computer skills to address some need of my elderly mother or to assist my dear sister or her family but those interventions are so easily accomplished as to be inconsequential. Any altruism I might otherwise exercise is highly pragmatic, motivated primarily by a desire for social engagement and a resolution to stay connected with the rest of the world to some extent.

Given the wide berth here on the Island for unfettered private indulgence I perhaps muddle the privilege by imposing upon myself perceived necessities to broaden my knowledge and experience. Competing with this favourable inclination is my visceral response that the time has come in my life when I should no longer feel obliged to do so.  One desirable element not to be avoided is of course reading. I have discovered that the cushioned wicker armchairs located on the balcony adjacent my bedroom are exceedingly comfortable. With the view of the Ocean the chairs lend themselves conveniently to dozing in addition to literary gratification.  The reward is especially valued after having bicycled mid-afternoon when I increasingly succumb to overwhelming fatigue, another corollary of age no doubt.

But the narcotic regiment of the daily bicycle ride is not about to be abandoned. My normal bicycle ride is between 6 and 10 miles. These distances have declined over the years as my age advances. My sore back and wonky knees don’t encourage me but I am hopeful that losing some weight will do so in time.  Still for 68 years of age I consider I am doing better than might be expected.

The really haunting theme of the turmoil I live with is that there may be no side-stepping it. The disquieting advances are relentless and apparently I have exhausted the placebos. There was a time I could have compromised my distress through alcohol or custom-made jewelry or fine cars. The utility of controlling my demons has progressively become a casualty of this unintended insight; namely, that life is after all an implacable struggle. I can’t say that I am utterly prepared to capitulate but the duty to do so is increasingly poignant. I can no more withdraw from the recognition than a moth can ignore the light.

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