Saturday, March 16, 2019

The Art of Living

Today for whatever reason I have been reflecting upon the events of last year at this time - when I was walking in a detached state about the uncommonly wide and sunlit hallways (complete with hanging art) of Halifax Hospital in Daytona Beach recovering from a severe bicycle fall at Ponce Inlet. Oddly I have a vivid - almost psychedelic - memory of the diverting medical episode. It was in the nature of a catharsis, a deliverance from a previously undisclosed encumbrance. I am here speaking of the pace maker which was installed to ensure my heart keeps ticking - the necessity of which I have always maintained was conveniently diagnosed after a fall from my bike on the beach rather than a collision in my car at 60 mph. Call me cheery! At the time I don't think the circumstance was viewed by those around me with equal vigour.

Optimism is but one of the putative elements of the art of living.  I say putative because I believe that in this matter - as in so many others of life - there is a distinct possibility that ready confidence is not entirely a product of innate buoyancy but may indeed reflect a measure of plain good luck. Nonetheless the qualification is not something I particularly dwell upon except to the extent of reminding myself of two things - one, be thankful for what you have; and, two, your luck will one day run out!  The corollary is the imperative to pursue the absorption of life's pleasing ingredients.

Speaking of which I succumbed today to three yearnings which have lately beleaguered me: Naan bread, seafood salad and fatty hamburgers.  Actually I never made it to the leavened bread.  After devouring a salt-laden hamburger (impregnated with cheddar cheese and bacon chips), several fork-fulls of seafood salad and my normal plate of raw vegetables (celery, green pepper, zucchini, field tomato) and a salmon filet, I was cooked! I have at least exhausted the prior sense of deprivation for another little while. That stuff - and Key Lime pie - is no competition for uncooked, unprepared food and lemon juice. The urge is excusably far less abusive than a frozen martini - though that and cigars are perpetually alluring!

My bicycle sojourn late this morning began reluctantly. It was a gloomy day threatened by rain. The ride turned out to be notably tranquil. The interlopers had vanished in the gloom like the closing of a flower. Even a small wedding congregation at Bayfront Park was markedly serene. I wanted to congratulate them for their civility.

What persisted throughout was my personal euphoria, partly conceived by the events of the day thus far (including a fortuitous run at the communal laundry machine and dryer upon arising this morning) and attributable as always to the fortune of being on Longboat Key. Lest my gusto is perceived over-zealous I can report without a word of a lie that a year ago this venture was seen by me as a final frontier.  My fear was never the lingering shadow of mortality but rather the looming prospect of having to forego what I instinctively knew was delectable. In addition to fulfilling my fantasy I have not been proven wrong.

As I sometimes reason, it is now "five after ten"- by which I mean I am in the fifth year following the conclusion of the ten major sequences of my life.  Perhaps a simpler exposition is retirement but that fails to capture the metaphysical significance of the journey.  All paths have lately aligned to point me in an entirely new direction. Part of the evolution naturally arises from the conclusion of my erstwhile profession.  Equally important is the transition from filial devotion to orphan as well as the adjustment to changing personal relationships.  The art of living has not involved stress-elimination and self-improvement programs based upon breathing techniques, meditation and yoga.  The process has been serendipitous and naturally distilled.

As a result a good deal of the character of my evaporation is visceral; that is, not meditative or intellectual - and certainly not transcendental. The toxicity of this material confession eludes me. I regard it as a feature of candidness. This does not preclude the poetic and unbleached simplicity of the landscape and scenery, all illustrative of the priceless joys at hand. Surely no one can diminish the indisputable value of a turquoise sea!

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