Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Over the hump

After turning into the narrow drive to the car wash today I tapped a new Petro-Canada Season Pass good for 90 days. This trifling event signals the mid-point of our return to Canada in April and our upcoming retreat to Longboat Key towards the end of October next. Today's three-month division also heralds our approaching and much-anticipated departure to the East Coast for a short but decidedly metaphysical visit during which I will reacquaint myself with my embryonic past (between 50 and 70 years ago). As critically for me are the bordering collaborations with the endodontist, dentist, ophthalmologist and neurologist - which will conclude months of relentless medical preoccupations, all of which (among others) prefigured in last winter's abbreviations in the United States of America.

We are warming by the hour to the anticipated catharsis on the Atlantic Ocean. Like other physical alterations we've begun adjusting our ritual customs to the expected departure.  Certainly there is nothing especially substantive about the projection but for us it manifestly illustrates the small singularity to which we now attach. A  theme of our retirement is the choice of limitation and inflexibility we've awkwardly embraced to propel us successfully. This includes surmounting the Western cultural ambition of real property ownership, a toxin which insinuates many other expressions of individuality including gardening, furnishings, accessories, situs and space. We have felt the imperceptible isolation which attends such deviation - sometimes a welcome excuse to avoid maintenance, renovation, grass-cutting, snow-plowing and board membership - at other times the social alienation which has for centuries characterized the detachment from propriety rights.

Yet we are resolved to redefine our focus to what is unquestionably immaterial. Essentially those days are gone; we haven't the appetite. There are moments when I applaud my foresight and conviction. It is however a solitary enterprise not far removed from the succinctness of one's tombstone.  Significantly we've opted for just our names, a deliberate temperance. I hasten to record that there is nothing frivolous about the decision; its gravity is strictly intellectual.  The gravestones in Key West, Florida are the proper venue for laughable inscriptions - such as "I told you I was sick" or "Now she'll know where I am at night" - but we haven't any truck with that particular memorial. More cogently is the quip, "Even his laugh was serious". Similarly compelling is my undying interest in logic, what has proven to be the synthesis of mediocrity and knowledge.

This isn't to say we've entirely removed the glamour from life. Reflecting upon the sublimity of life has peculiarly driven a devotion to plainness and lack of complication. These features  - almost by definition - heighten a facility of performance. There is naturally a price to pay for the accommodation, not the least of which is acceptance of estrangement from former alliances. It is part of the multiple ingredients of erstwhile concoctions to promote ceaseless absorptions in what by any measure were defeated projects. It isn't merely an escape from the past; it is a commitment to recovering the future. The Janus faced venture has but one option; the others I reserve for New Year's celebrations.

Though we haven't retired to the country with our book and bottle, the bucolic senses and smells are not far removed. I rejoice in the authenticity of my curmudgeonly behaviour, a product of age and wisdom. I have yet to attain the despair of T. S. Eliot and his whimpering end; but my enthusiasm for obligatory exploration is utterly exhausted. I shall content myself at least for the time being to travel the suburbs of my own mind.

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