Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Accentuate the Positive

If I recall correctly it was sometime around 2 o'clock this morning as I lay in bed, rolling from side to side in a futile attempt to relieve the chronic strain on my lower back and the pain that radiated into my legs, that I cottoned onto the old chestnut "Accentuate the Positive".  I fully suspect that contemporaneously with my mimicking of a chiropractor I had been mulling some collection of unfortuitous circumstances.  As embarrassed as I am to say, I am unable to recount what precisely might have caused the disturbance. I am so notoriously fretful that I can only put it down to a native syndrome.  In any event and in spite of the miserable condition I became obsessed with the thought that the only door out was to identify what was good and to abandon the rest. The thesis spoke to me with the gravity of an axiom while at the same time affording me a stepping stone upon which to extricate myself from disabling confusion (itself accentuated by the customary middle-of-the-night spookiness).

Perhaps like many others I regularly seek to discover the means of starting fresh. While I accept the philosophical, spiritual and religious vernacular for such an undertaking my dedication is more towards less abstract newness. The morning shower for example is but one example of the pedestrian relief to which I allude.  Or washing one's car and shaking the mats.  In the old days it was a matter of going on the wagon for a while.  Sometimes it was a dietary thing - eliminating sweets or pasta or whatever else might appear to be contributing to Mr. Big and Tall's bottom line. Whatever the case, the theme which insinuates them all is practicality.  The frozen truth is that obsessing over what is bringing one down - howsoever plausible the reason may be and as undeniable as its avoidance may resound - is a defeatist tactic. Let's face it, we hardly need convincing!  So it makes little sense to reiterate the subject again and again.  Besides we all have our problems.  Since when do we imagine that our especial complaint either trumps anyone else's or that it merits regurgitation for any unfathomable purpose.  Yes, we may have made mistakes; yes, we aren't perfect; yes, we didn't succeed to the pinnacle of perfection to which we've always so rightfully aspired.  But really!  Who has? Is there anyone who makes the grade to which we aspire!  That's assuming of course that we even analyze the subject sufficiently to tie ourselves into such logical knots.  But if once we get that far then the message is clear - let it go! Get back on track and start fresh!

If by chance one needs further expatiation of this dreadful topic in order to set oneself adrift, I can only urge the admission that the past is called the past for a reason (this is my appeal to the strictly intellectual side of that which is otherwise morose). It no longer has any fuel for the present.  It has exhausted its utilty!

When at last I elevated my aching body from the mattress shortly before seven o'clock this morning, it was in this altered state of mind that I greeted the day. My direction - in spite of my near paralytic posture - was focussed upon improvement.  Reminiscences of plucking the oyster from the sea and the cherry from the bush came upon me with undiminished strength! In the plainest terms I had resolved that this and any subsequent day were to be enjoyed come what may.  I had chosen to accentuate the positive.

It is the happy nature of my personal circumstances that one needn't search too far abroad for the oyster of life.  Nor can I truthfully assert that the pearls of life are entirely out of reach.  But it does nonetheless require both conviction and determination. And admittedly in my case a degree of accommodation. I find that as a philosophical ploy it renders the prosecution more favourable to satisfy oneself with life's immediate and oftentimes simple pleasures. Take for example the Clementines which I peeled to start my breakfast today.  To heighten the moment I placed them on a small plate which I then conveyed to the balcony patio overlooking the pool.  I brought along my cup of strong, black coffee. From that vantage I awakened my mind and heart to the unfolding day.

It is now regular commerce of our daily agenda to nurse the habit of exercise. Most often in these situations it is bicycling, an occupation which is easily encouraged by the enchantment of the paths which border the sea. We have calculated that the distance around the island is about ten miles. The southern stretch is Roosevelt Blvd; the northern stretch into the central core of Key West is Truman Ave. Assuming as I do that both routes were named after US presidents I note they were members of the Democratic Party. This morning's venture included an inspection of the Truman Annex located in the heart of Key West. It is surprisingly secluded.

From there we jagged over to Mallory Dock.  When I first frequented Key West over 35 years ago Mallory Dock was just what the name suggests, a tawdry but popular remnant of an earlier fishing era.  It was the customary hangout to watch the setting sun (though the socially acceptable place to do it was from the upper balcony bar of the nearby Pier House hotel).  The Dock has since undergone a complete overhaul.  Though it smacks of the saccharin to state that it now caters to cruise lines it is nonetheless very well crafted and appealing.

Complimenting the charm of this district are a number of historical buildings (several of which are of a nautical nature - for example a weather station and naval structures). There are as well no end of opportunities for meals and snacks of every description including one place which caters solely to the provision of French toast.

We punctuated our ramble this morning by stopping once again as we had done yesterday for a Cappuccino at Plantation CafĂ© on Caroline Street.  I would be remiss if I were not to note the part of the background wallpaper to our Key West experience was not only the occasional whiff of a good cigar but also the crow of a cock and the sight of a real houseboat!

Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive
You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between
You've got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium
Liable to walk upon the scene
To illustrate his last remark
Jonah in the whale, Noah in the ark
What did they do
Just when everything looked so dark
Man, they said we better, accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between
No, do not mess with Mister In-Between
Do you hear me?
Oh, listen to me children and-a you will hear
About the elininatin' of the negative
And the accent on the positive
And gather 'round me children if you're willin'
And sit tight while I start reviewin'
The attitude of doin' right
Songwriters: Johnny Mercer / Harold Arlen
Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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