Thursday, May 26, 2022

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Almonte Tennis Club open house, June 4

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Idem

Bill-99by L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.

Are you one of those brainy birds predisposed to reflection? Do you idly muse upon your life and think about what you’ve done and who you are. You may be one whose life is – to speak charitably – unpretentious? Perhaps you consider that you are justifiably self-effacing? If so, I’m right there with you, make no mistake. To be candid an account of my life is unexceptional, passable at best I’d say. For one thing it would impart far more tang than merited to my insipid reality to suggest that any day is much different from another. How often have you rejoined to a friendly enquiry about what’s new, “Oh, same old, same old!” Nonetheless – and this may startle you for its complacency – I rejoice in every boring moment, even to a fault. Indeed as inclined as I am to itemize the particulars of my ineffable existence, I will resist if only because I fear their public recitation may be tedious (though strangely that does nothing to dampen my private gusto).

Trust me, I’m not being humble. The broad outline of the unglamorous agenda which consumes my day is little more than sleep, eat and bicycle. Once upon a time I worked for a living (which come to think of it is a horridly succinct recapitulation of a lifetime of commitment). Now I interject my modest game plan with writing, playing the electronic keyboard, photography, reading books and watching Neflix series and independent films, all of which constitute my personal preferences and hobbies. Though I doubt that it qualifies as a certifiable pastime, driving my car is another of my diversions. And I shamelessly drool over the paraphernalia I have; but, as I say, they are too banal to dare to mention. Sufficient it is that I luxuriate in the material world with which I have been blessed.  For purposes of this chronicle what matters is that I delight in the stuff not what it is.

Circumscribing the kernel of my unchanging activity is an orbit of mundane adventures and misadventures – grocery shopping, daily telephone calls to family, conversations with my financial advisor, accountant, doctor and lawyer, inescapable and often tiresome maintenance of hardware and mechanical devices, occasional disruptive conflicts and relieving resolutions, cursory email exchanges with friends, bank reconciliations, haircuts, foot massages and teeth cleaning. To discern anything extraordinary in the synoptic outline would be a discernible stretch. And yet I rejoice with the same jubilation that a child must feel on a good day when everything is right, inside and out. It requires no philosophic labour to distill the elements of untempered happiness from these trifles.

I might dignify this anemic sketch by alluding to the analytical detours apropos love, friendship, death and the Meaning of Life. There cannot be anyone who does not from time to time tax himself with such far-reaching introspections. The material world, flavourless or not, is but a backdrop to those flighty thoughts. For the most part I ignore the presage of profane matters by absorbing the strength of the inconsequential things that I do. I am by nature a tactile person from the moment of my awakening under the down duvet to the first sip of robust black coffee, the nourishing food, the hot shower, the heat of the sun, the sound of the wind in the trees and the sight of the grass and the sea. My reading transports me to places of reverie and contemplation but it is the sensuality of life which overwhelms me.  I am a Sybarite. And my peregrinations are detached from and unaided by materiality. I can mine the same intensity from a political battle as from a work of art. My life is a blur of sensuality.

What high standard of comparison we promote these days! Small wonder I sometimes feel diminished.  Yet I succeed to rationalize my deficit by recalling we’re all looking at the same world and that we’re all made of the same matter. If that vindication doesn’t convince, merely add the ingredient of luck (good or bad) and you have it all! What conceit it is to presume any one of us is the product of anything else! This cryptic recipe doesn’t portend uniformity, it’s a reminder that life is like Mediterranean food – all presentation! We’re each working with the same material (more or less) and it is up to us to concoct the result as best we can, as varied as the outcome may be.

My declining years have signalled an amortization (or at least a refinement) of things and a commensurate augmentation of quality (or at least of subtlety).  As any good cook knows, less is more. The gluttony of youthful appetite gives way to the decorousness of age. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t for a minute swap one for the other, either then or now.  Though the bloom may fade there may yet be activity unseen. Admittedly I have adopted that deviousness that is passed off as wisdom, a variation on the theme of accommodation which I believe characterizes the goal of living. I consider it pragmatic capitulation.

There is a point at which it is just too late. We’re never going to be young again; we’ll never turn back the clock; it’s impossible to accomplish what would have taken years to do. So the only choice is to accept and move on. And, yes, that means more of the same.

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