Thursday, May 10, 2018

Home from work

When I was still practicing law it was not uncommon - especially in the latter period of my practice - to relish the unvarnished luxury of returning home for an evening dedicated to the simple pleasures of a drink, a tasty meal and listening to music from the Great American Songbook (that loosely defined set of popular and enduring songs from the 1920s to the 1950s created for Broadway theatre, musical theatre and Hollywood musical film).  A plate of smoked oysters and a roaring fire in the Vermont Casting completed the scene. The routine was so hackneyed as to be almost laughable - though I readily confess it never failed to satisfy. The unspoken palliative wasn't so much the visceral pleasures as the reward of completing a successful day at the office. I have forever been an addict to production and no amount of psychological bantering will suffice to replace the manifest thrust of the Protestant Work Ethic. The value of work was instilled in my mind at a very early age, perhaps by the likes of Sir William Osler whose publications were part of the wallpaper at Trinity College School where we boys from St. Andrew's College regularly debated or played football.

Though I can now willingly bear the deprivation of the practice of law I have nonetheless preserved my undaunted affection for performance and output. My day today began with a measure of defeat.  Upon arising from the virginal lair my frame was riddled with pervasive discomfort and pain - numb feet and lower limbs, aching ribs (recently broken) and the perpetual lower back stiffness. Perhaps the gloomy, wet weather contributed to my misfortune - something I specifically pondered later in the day when I succumbed to its prohibition of my constitutional bicycle ride along Country Street.

This afternoon I sought to elevate my grizzled demeanour by going for a cup of cappuccino at Equator Coffee. But the restorative was lacking.  When I subsequently reclaimed my perch in my automobile I was likewise uncertain whether I would trouble myself further to exercise that custom of getting the car washed (another of my trifling obsessions). However out of hopeless habit I succumbed.  And in retrospect I am happy to have done so.  The mindless jaunt along the Appleton Side Road past the Village of Appleton to the winding ribbon of highway from Carleton Place to Stittsville soon succeeded to diminish my sense of inutility and pointlessness.

As I drove, I pondered. It is part of my current inertia that I am absorbed in a number of issues which are sufficient to monopolize my waking (and sometimes sleeping) state of mind. My concerns are naturally no more poignant than those of any other - and likely less so overall - but it is part of my malignant character to dwell upon the matters even to a fault.  Inevitably there is some advantage which springs from these retrospections.  Moments later, enhanced by a clean car and a full tank of gas, I was on the road again, heading southwesterly towards home into the setting sun, window down, feeling much refreshed and energized. It is part of my abuse that I flatter myself to revamp upon the completion of even the most inconsequential effort - a distortion I prefer to characterize as the ability to enjoy the small things in life (which perhaps it honestly is).  In fairness I had also succeeded to distill some rambling thoughts about Mother's Day on Sunday.  This seemingly modest concern was in fact something about which I had laboured for weeks. The immediacy of motherhood is not surprisingly promoted by my elderly mother's advanced age and my own dwindling health.  It may be nothing more than the natural collateral to aging generally (even without the dread of impending mortality or disease). I have spent much of my life having abandoned the confrontation of its elemental features; perhaps "the time has come" as the Walrus said "to speak of many things". Whatever the analysis the unfolding result was a rejuvenation of purpose.

Submitting to these insinuating absorptions is often the incalculable resource for relief.  Though we still maintain a wine cellaret, crystal carafes of sherry and Porto, shelves of single malt whiskey and a freezer full of gin and vodka ready for the taking, those days of indulgence have vanished (along with cigarettes, pipes and cigars).  But the American standards persist as well as a very passable meal of green salad and fresh salmon.  All in all it delivered a thoroughly acceptable degree of complacency!

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