Thursday, November 8, 2018

First, we eat...

This morning after our mani and pedi we stopped at a dive just over the bridge from Longboat Key.   New Pass Grill & Bait Shop on Ken Thompson Parkway. It's a place we've seen a number of times before when cycling in the area - notable for its park and marine museum (Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium to be exact) overlooking Sarasota Bay. New Pass Grill - like similar establishments here - has a clientele that includes in addition to tourists a goodly number of local contractors who apparently consider the fare quality for value.  It's not a place one necessarily lingers but it certainly satisfies the need for nourishment without any fuss. The trades around here are as ubiquitous as the interlopers, a visible testament to the commercial dependence of the two.

While we sat on our perches and waited to be informed over the loudspeaker that our order was ready, a small marine craft docked and the young sailor quickly picked up a bucket of something which I assume was bait for fishing. We collected our grub at the side-window and tucked in. It must have been good - or else we were just hungry - because there wasn't much conversation. Not that we feel the indispensability.  Twenty-three years of Mutt & Jeff has its unmistakeable distilling influence.

Prior to putting on the nosebag at the bait shop we had dipped into a swimwear boutique on Gulf of Mexico Drive.  Initially we sat on a bench outside the front door waiting for it to open.  The sign said ten o'clock but there was still nobody there by ten-thirty.  Coincidentally a woman who had also been at the nail salon pulled up in a Mercedes convertible. She recognized us and we exchanged the predictable niceties. We finally gave up waiting and pushed off.  I took a chance and purposively drove in the wrong direction in order to force a return past the shop moments later.  As luck would have it, the front door was open when we doubled back.  The shopkeeper explained - without knowing she had kept us waiting - that she had picked up several boxes of new gear from a supplier.  One of the boxes contained precisely the bathing suits we were looking for, so it all felt satisfyingly serendipitous that we had patiently waited. We later walked out with four new suits and a free bottle of Panama Jack "After Sun Lotion" (aloe and cocoa butter). I am discovering that the intense sunshine here promotes my interest in such balms. I have already begun making my way through a tube of Neutrogena helioplex sunscreen and a buttery jar of Nivea cream.

The early morning cosmetic interruption of my daily routine (by which I mean bicycling and sunbathing) had begun to take its toll. One has to question why the urgency to accomplish a bit of shopping and munching on the water even arises.  What's the rush!  But the crystal blue sky and rising temperatures were for me a powerful allure. Within moments of our return to the apartment I had changed into my bike togs and was off.

I only made it to Bayfront Park - where I paused briefly to check my email - then I turned back.  It was already well after noon and a perfect day for dozing by the pool.  The weather was hot, I was enervated and my mind was preoccupied with a number of administrative matters relating to the settlement of my late mother's estate.  It is not even two weeks since her death but so much has transpired in the interval, including unscheduled reminiscences about her past, how I had been right to assess that she was no longer in full control of her mental faculties, that we had patently done everything possible to improve her last moments on earth. And the contemplation of my own impending mortality and the new state of being an orphan, all commonplace diversions.

How limiting the prospect of the future is on the one hand, yet contemporaneously expansive on the other. There is no detail in the overwhelming interest of utility which escapes analysis. The empirical wins every time! This is as galvanizing as casual clothing on a hot day (though not to say a silk shirt is beyond fathom). I must regrettably caution myself in my zealousness to avoid irrelevant conclusions, a reminder that the future remains perpetually - and sometimes punishingly - unpredictable on any level.  Even if things appear irrevocable, the possibility of change persists. Meanwhile a judicious focus on what is attainable within the present vernacular is not without its recommendation. Small wonder so many intellects have attempted to secrete themselves from society - like Henry David Thoreau's "Walden; or, Life in the Woods" - simple living in natural surroundings, a personal declaration of independence, a social experiment, a voyage of spiritual discovery, a manual of self-reliance.

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion."

Henry David Thoreau

The effort for personal growth may indeed be driven by the necessities of life - among them economy, where one lives, what one lives for, reading, sounds, job/hobby, journeys, higher law (including vegetarianism and teetotalism), solitude and visitors.

I won't pretend to have achieved my goal but neither will I admit to defeat. My inherent obsessiveness at times diminishes my capacity for uniformity but I like to think it also inspires me. Whatever arrogance attends the commitment to doing what motivates me is my response to the music I hear however measured or far away.

"Transcendentalism emphasizes subjective intuition over objective empiricism. Adherents believe that individuals are capable of generating completely original insights with little attention and deference to past masters."

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