Saturday, February 9, 2019

Bred to no business; Born to no estate

Not everyone perceives their own enlargement. They are prepared instead - at least initially - to settle upon doing what they are told (which often means following in the footsteps of their parents). It is a custody with which I consider myself to have little truck. There was perhaps a time - before I entered boarding school at fourteen years of age - when I didn't imagine I was solely responsible for my evolution; but it was an instinctive acquaintance that gathered speed instantaneously at that particular point. Ironically the commitment to improvement and self-expression was partly directed to the approbation of my removed, distant parents - whose appeasement I think continued literally to the end of their lives.  Similarly their respective deaths - especially that of my mother whom I always sought to placate (though not particularly as she might have intended) - released me like a refreshing wash from the contamination of that object. For me becoming an orphan was liberating - though admittedly I have the mitigating satisfaction of knowing my parents lived long lives and that I attended to them as much as reasonably possible.

This summary observation may be less truthful than warranted.  While I eclipsed the influence of a father for business or career (he essentially dismissed all paternal involvement other than to say, "It's your bed; you make it; you sleep in it"), and while I never doubted that I wanted to study law (which I did upon my own terms entirely), the exposure to other opportunities was not lacking. The mere serendipity of my public school education at St. Andrew's College is not to be handily diminished. What however distinguishes even one lucky to have had such exposure is my appetite for advancement and excellence. I say this without any reluctance because I have never imagined that I had anything other than hard work on which to build.

Providence furnishes materials, but expects that we should work them up ourselves.

Addison, Joseph. “The De Coverley Papers.”

The immediate decline of my fortunes the moment I relinquish laborious dedication to work is proof I haven't innate talent upon which to rely - though I will as quickly add that my performance improves as readily when the focus changes. It pleases me to acknowledge that my private law practice merited the benefit of hard work. I say that especially because I opted for a rural solicitor's practice as opposed to other very different engagements which arose along the way. Rather than heighten what might have been, I confess only that the rural practitioner's model is not everyone's first choice - but it suited me admirably.

Another reason my providence is not without external collaboration is that by stroke of luck and in no small measure owing to my bloodymindedness I landed in a state of comfortable affairs. The chance part of the progression may - in my defence - arise partially from an ability to recognize quality combined no doubt with a thriving yearning for survival. When quality and survival coalesce the result is virtually guaranteed. I will nonetheless concede that certain fortuitous alignments afforded me unquestionable advantage. As for my own deliberations I need only observe that soon in my career I learned how to handle banks for our mutual purposes; and, even in heated moments was capable of compelling them to cooperate. Thankfully I learned not too late in life not to "push the envelope" which nicely had the effect of stabilizing my debt while promoting the callous admiration for money above the artistic value of things.

All of which is to say by way of conclusion (a venue I now regularly and apologetically visit) that the apex of my life is quite agreeably for me the sum of my current circumstances. I have for example resigned myself to endure the mantle clock whose chimes no longer function. Surely there can be no greater exemplification of philosophic maturity! Rapidly I am approaching that diminished state of being wherein "the grasshopper is a burden". Yet today was the perfect beach day, crashing waves, strong wind, blustering sand, blazing sun, high white clouds beneath clear blue sky. I haven't completely forfeited my animus nor my absorption in the material world! Yellow and gold continue to draw me. The distillation isn't over until the evaporation ends!

Ecclesiastes 12:3-5

(3) In the day when the keepers of the house tremble, And the strong men bow down; When the grinders cease because they are few, And those that look through the windows grow dim;

(4) When the doors are shut in the streets, And the sound of grinding is low; When one rises up at the sound of a bird, And all the daughters of music are brought low.

(5) Also they are afraid of height, And of terrors in the way; When the almond tree blossoms, The grasshopper is a burden, And desire fails. For man goes to his eternal home, And the mourners go about the streets.

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