Monday, November 6, 2017

Life's Dreadful Realities

There are so many reasons to be disconsolate. Sure, one likes to think positively and be thankful for what one has. But in the small hours of the morning when flipping back and forth in perpetual anxiety, there's an austerity of optimism. It is then that the drudgery of life and the shallowness of its preoccupations, its random disappointments and blunt realities are transparent. If, as I am, one is rapidly evolving into an era of old age and decrepitude then the frozen truth is even more chilling! The despondency has a compelling authenticity when there is Biblical authority for the inevitable confrontation of the vanity of life.  These hard midnight thoughts urge upon us an admission of defeat no matter how we may seek to disguise our futile human enterprise. The trepidation goes beyond mere mortality or amortization; there is in addition the interim contamination of everything that precedes it - with fear.  How trifling are our exploits!  How harsh is our existence!

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low; Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity. Ecclesiastes 12 King James Version

It is the marvel of living that we can surmount these philosophic burdens. Granted when I arise in the morning I am slow to eclipse the despair when first having to deal with rigid and aching bones. Yet with each advance is a correspondingly incremental improvement. By the time I complete my ablutions and settle at my desk with a bowl of orange slices and a black coffee I am ready to tackle what is before me.

The revivification isn't however a solo undertaking. Thankfully there are others who are hard at work to improve the condition humaine. I may for example be lucky enough to receive a comforting email from someone who has dominion over at least part of my affairs, a correspondent or an agent, perhaps a family member or a colleague or friend. Knowing that there is a common purpose goes a long way to lessen the tension.  Inch by inch I submerge myself in activity and production; progressively my diminished resolve is affirmed. Soon the ghosts of midnight are forgotten, overwhelmed by disinfecting sunlight and propelled by cooperation and objective.

Whether it is an accident of nature or a genetic proclivity, I find myself preferring the buoyancy of life to its dreariness.  I suppose almost anyone could say that who hasn't been irreparably harmed by life's realities, who is not a victim of its duress or unfavourable fortuity. In spite of the unpleasantness which I have sometimes faced it has fortunately for me never amounted to anything that hasn't been overcome. I know this is sadly not the result for everyone.  Why it is that some are spared the destiny of irreconcilable harm I shall never fathom. Clearly I shall never wish to suffer the same consequence but in the meantime I feel at least an obligation to do what I can to alleviate the troubles we humans endure. This is not some kind of religious event, neither promoted nor provoked by any spiritual obligation or devotion. Though it may smack of gratitude it is not that either. It is simply a matter of aligning one's strengths to counter the prospect of doom. It is as much a capitulation as it is an active duty. As a detail of mere logic it only makes sense to me to do whatever good can be done before time runs out.  The "good" is not necessarily anything for the particular benefit of one or the other, nor even myself.  It may amount to one of those endless arguments surrounding the meaning of hedonism which swings between excessive indulgence and moderate pleasure, where either extreme begs the question. Ultimately the issue is like so many in life both binary and axiomatic, the search for pleasure or pain, highlighting the utilitarian theme of the debate. There is no value in wallowing in despair.  I rather doubt it is any more difficult to rise above misfortune than to linger there; and certainly the odds of winning are better if we do our best to overcome hopelessness.

Every day I turn my back on the past including my midnight reflections. It is a small compliment really as I seldom have the capacity to embrace more than my immediate prospect - which no doubt explains my unstoppable passion for movement.  Today as usual my unfolding agenda happily included a bicycle ride upon the beach.

As oft-repeated as it is, I shall never tire of the view of the sea! Stripped to a pair of flimsy shorts and Croc shoes I unashamedly rode across the smooth beach, warmed by the billowing soft wind and the sun. Given my age (and my rickety used bike) I have no remorse to confess my cycling is strictly a matter of leisure, there is no attempt to perform or out-perform.  Nonetheless I routinely insist upon completing my objective to reach the rock pier in Ponce Inlet which defines the furthest southern boundary of this tiny barrier island.

Here the frothing green water crashes against the jetty. I am surrounded by the sensibilities of the sea, the colour, the rolling waves, the noise and the spray.  I am uplifted!

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