Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A day of reflection

Though I suppose it is impossible to get through any day without delving into at least some reflection upon one subject or another, today seemed to lend itself especially conveniently to the endeavour.  First and perhaps foremost is that I hadn't a lot of anything else to occupy me today.  I made up my mind early this morning that I would resist my usual impulse to go bicycling.  My reason was to give my wretched knees some relief from the constancy which seems to affect them adversely.  Besides there is more than a shred of truth in the observation that the routine repetition of anything tends to diminish the value of its overall return. On the balance however my objective was more a concession to lethargy than to quality control.  For example, even after we returned from an early morning venture to the grocery store, I withdrew to my bedroom and buried myself under the duvet in an attempt to get some sleep. But it was not meant to be.  Even wearing my eye mask I could tell the sun was doing its best to shine and that alone drove me mad, knowing that I was missing out on the sunshine!

Accordingly I flung off the covers and dragged myself into the water closet to straighten my hair in an effort to recover some semblance of propriety.  I reasoned that I might as well lounge by the pool in the sun as wallow in bed under the duvet.  By that time it was already 2 o'clock in the afternoon so, with the Winter Solstice fast approaching, there wasn't a lot of daylight remaining in any event, much less that late in the day through the narrow passage between our apartment building and the one adjacent.  Luckily for me I discovered no one else at the pool when I arrived there so I had my pick of the most opportune chaises longues.  Remarkably I quickly fell into a relaxing state and basically remained in situ for the next two hours. During that time two others had taken up positions on nearby chairs and I suspect there were just as happy to see me leave when I did so that they could claim the preferred positions for what remained of the sunshine.

I can't say that I revived myself from my elongation feeling especially well. The truth is that I have been pushing myself for the past several weeks, avoiding succumbing to those afternoon naps which I have learned are so healthful. It does however require practice and determination to submit to one's instincts and obviously I haven't yet mastered the talent.

On my way back to the apartment I passed by the clubroom and noticed it in darkness.  I was therefore drawn to the Yamaha grand piano.  I seated myself at the keyboard and amused myself for the next hour or so.  While I was there another resident materialized and we engaged in a conversation surrounding his professional evolution as an educator and subsequently a senior administrator.  Interlaced with his description of personal business matters were allusions to the local real estate market.  We shared many of the same opinions about Florida generally, including for example a preference for what he called the east coast or what I call the Ocean (as opposed to the more placid Gulf of Mexico on the west coast) and a caution about locating too far south where there is a threat of perpetually insufferable heat.  It is a common complaint from northerners such as he and I that the relentless heat of Florida can become unbearable.  I suspect much of the reason is that northerners resent having to live cloistered entirely in an air-conditioned bubble throughout the entire year.  The simple pleasure of throwing open a window is a much cherished ritual.

We dined late this evening and were just settling into watch a movie on the television when the telephone rang.  I knew in an instant that it was the call I had been expecting all day from my dear friend Jill in Canada.  Knowingly I excused myself from the drawing room so that we could chat without interrupting the television show.  Jill and I quickly covered the customary social niceties of our health, the weather and the latest personal dramas. But as earnestly we moved into an abstract discussion of our professional careers and technology.  And religion.  On the subject of careers we echoed the sentiments which I had earlier shared with the resident in the clubroom; viz., that each of us no matter what our occupation is looking at the same thing; and that the issue is not so much what we studied but how we look at the world.  It is a remark captured in the question, "Quelle est votre perspective?" once posed to me when studying in Paris, France as a young man.  Jill and I went on to amplify the abstraction by concluding that whether as a lawyer (as I am) or an animator (as she is) we are but tradesmen. I was glad to share that alliance with Jill because for years I have actively sought to liken myself to any other tradesman rather than trying to elevate myself as a so-called professional, a distinction which I believe is entirely misguided and calculated only to be unnecessarily divisive.  The motive has nothing to do with false egalitarianism. For me it is merely recognition that people trade in different material, whether it is iron, stone, wood or words for example.  How often Jill has proclaimed upon the heels of my having said something particularly erudite, "That is so not my side of the brain!" Likewise I have an undeniable appreciation of her artistic skills exemplified in my having commissioned her to do a work for me and having purchased others of hers.

Touching briefly on the subject of technology we agreed that autonomous automobiles and artificial intelligence are here to stay.  More importantly we concurred that their employment will always be fashioned and improved by the minds that operate them and that the fear of human control disappearing entirely is much over-stated.

Finally on the matter of religion we succeeded to that moderately esoteric subject in a roundabout way by first discussing some of the autobiographies which I had read including in particular that of Sir Alec Guinness who distinguished himself by talking about those whom he had met rather than about himself.

This was in sharp contrast to Vladimir Horowitz whose autobiography included not only a hopeless preoccupation with himself but most inappapropriately vivid accounts of his sexual exploits.

This train of thought in turn led me to a comparison of Donald J. Trump.  And then to the current antics of accused pedophile Roy Moore who is running in Alabama for election to the Senate.  This precipitated my outrage at Moore's bigoted Christian evangelism, the culmination of which was a reference to Thomas Paine (who was an inspiration to the rebels in 1776 to declare independence from Britain) and his Age of Reason.  I noted that it was only some 200 years after Paine's death that his efforts have been memorialized because he estranged himself by publishing his undeniable and socially unpopular denunciation of the authenticity of the bible and all other religious mandates.  Benjamin Franklin had once counted Paine among his colleagues but refused to attend Paine's funeral which I understand was attended by eight people only, many of whom were African Americans.

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