Friday, February 1, 2019

Idiomatic Living


Throughout most my historic lifetime I have been an unrepentant slave to routine.  I seek to enlarge the diminution by advancing that - perhaps by definition - the commitment has entitled me to a calculable degree of production and gratification, first by strength of familiarity, second by virtue of being a proven source of pleasure. Granted both features can readily be condemned for lack of originality and the absence of adventure even intellectual ingenuity. There are nonetheless instances in which dilation is less attractive than dilution. If one prefers a scientific persuasion a chemical case pertains for distillation or condensation - including possibly the spiritual metaphor of purification.

idiom (n.) 1580s, "form of speech peculiar to a people or place" meaning "phrase or expression peculiar to a language" is from 1620s; from Middle French idiome (16c.) and directly from Late Latin idioma "a peculiarity in language" from Greek idioma "peculiarity, peculiar phraseology" (Fowler writes that "A manifestation of the peculiar" is "the closest possible translation of the Greek word"), from idioumai "to appropriate to oneself," from idios "personal, private," properly "particular to oneself."

There is helpful insight into the word "idiomatic" when characterized as a "group of words having a particular meaning that is different from the meanings of each word considered separately".  So for example, "bite the bullet" is an idiomatic expression that means to accept something unpleasant without complaining. What lingers in any event is the derivation from the early 18th century: from Greek idiōmatikos "peculiar, characteristic". This for my purposes is closer to what I am aiming at; namely, something "appropriate to the style of art or music associated with a particular period, individual or group"; or what more broadly speaking is said to "use, contain or denote expressions that are natural to a native speaker".  It is this latter definition which captures for me the utility and satisfaction of the import; and which today withdrew me from the Polar Vortex which lately has shadowed our domestic agenda.


Quite apart from the utter complacency inspired by my "natural and native" absorptions - a subject upon which I could happily speak at considerable length because my current condition (not only geographic but also temporal and societal) is so completely uplifting - the reiteration of their detail is imperative to reflect the colloquial advantage howsoever modest or narrow.

By its most extensive definition my experience is quite naturally a division of day and night, awake and asleep.  This isn't to suggest I am a deep sleeper - I most certainly am not - but the palpable experiences I have are confined to my waking hours.  It is highly unusual for me to recall anything I have dreamt other than the degree of disturbance (I wouldn't say I've ever had a "happy" dream).


The immediate undertakings of the morning involve (and demand - the Stoic element) making my bed, cleaning my iPhone, lip balm and spectacles; then showering and related ablutions.  Either earlier (say at 4:00 am) or upon arising I gulp down whatever pills I am currently obliged to consume, including - most strategically for me - the pain killers (Tylenol Arthritis). Then I am ready (or sufficiently tranquillized) for the first performance of the day - breakfast.


As prepared as I am to assert my dedication to habit and routine, the breakfast routine has in fact altered frequently and considerably over the years. Suffice it to observe that bacon and eggs are never lost on me; and English muffins and Marmite were at one time an undeniable treat (indeed they still are though I avoid them - as much as I adore bread of any description). For the moment I have adopted the following pattern:  sliced green apple or wedges of orange (preferably Sumo Citrus if available); fried eggs and cheese slices (or my latest preference, steel cut oats and raisins); strong, black coffee; and - here's the zinger - Savannah honeycomb with walnuts.  I augment the pedestrian delight of this repast by propping my iPad in front of me and reading just about anything I have discovered beyond copyright through iBooks (which favourably includes such classic writers as Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf or just about any ancient biographical collection).


Then it is time to mount the bicycle (Electra or Sun) and relish the local scenery. Though this is something which I repeat daily - whether on Longboat Key or in Almonte - the exercise is unfailingly beneficial and sublime, no matter that I am tooling along the Gulf of Mexico or Country Street. Such is the predictable nature of habit!

At 70 years of age I allow myself the privilege - at least while on Longboat Key - of pausing halfway at Bayfront Park overlooking Sarasota Bay. This isn't a purely remedial stop.  I use the occasion to weigh my money (there is WiFi service for on-line enquiries) and to formulate my general philosophic atmosphere which may or may not reflect the current weather conditions - that is, buoyancy for brightness; pensiveness for clouds, etc. It is also an opportunity to socialize briefly with like minded travellers and the occasional dog.

Afternoon Nap et al.:

Though I didn't do it today, afterwards (that is, after completing my return ride homeward) I normally splay myself upon the beach then go for a swim. But the grey skies today made the custom uninviting; and I got it into my head to do a bit of grocery shopping before dinner.  Besides I enjoy motoring any time.


When I got back from the grocery store it was late enough to prepare my victuals for the evening meal: salad of sliced celery, green pepper, zucchini and cherry tomatoes drenched in fresh squeezed lemon juice (perhaps with olive oil, white wine, Balsamic vinegar and salt); and unadulterated salmon filet. Dessert so-called is Bran Buds and figs.


The appeal of this account is not its mediocrity but its simplicity. The salmon for example is bought fresh (never frozen) and cooked immediately in the microwave - 2 minutes/2 filets, nothing whatsoever added. The steel cut oats take 25 minutes but they don't suffer the indignity of "instant" (that hugely uncomplimentary culinary violation). Exercise speaks for itself; as does reading. What is noticeably missing is reference to social engagements which are very much part of the human experience. While I am no longer motivated for "political" reasons (that is, acting in the interest of status or control), I relish impromptu encounters and exchange including playing the piano for others. What distinguishes these alliances is the mutuality of intention and desire. It also helps to be in an environment in which one can hear what the other is saying.

No comments:

Post a Comment