There are few pleasures in my condition. But one of them is the absence of haste. Deadlines are few, mainly self-imposed, while a few are of necessity, care-giver coming and appointments etc.
I found when I was a tourist it was hard to reconcile a leisurely appreciation of the scene and a desire to cram as much as possible into the occasion. The best times were probably sitting having coffee or a beer and watching the world wag by. There is that sense of non-participation. Around one people gossip, flirt, worry, plan, argue and laugh in a language one does not understand. And that doesn’t matter.
The word ‘saunter’ springs to mind. Now as I push my walker round I recall those times. ‘For oft when on my couch I lie/ In vacant or in pensive mood/ They flash upon the inward eye.’ There is the flower market in Brussels, the square in Siena, the maidan in Ishfahan, the peace-park in Hiroshima, the squirrels in Vancouver, the defile at Delphi, and myriads more, soaked up and stored in the deep-down cells.
Memory forgets the hassles, the lost luggage, the confusion, the irritation, the bewilderment, the hucksters. It recalls the amazement – cathedral, monument, ruin, rampart, canyon, lake, beach and river. It recalls the pleasure, for example warm sea-water at Acapulco, Honolulu, Heron Island and Raiatea. Around the house there are mementoes that jog memory – salad servers from Paris, a print from Kyoto, dinner service from London and a paper knife from Bangkok.
I did not plan to divert into travel. But life is higgledy-piggledy. I intended to write about absence from the rat-race. ‘Rat-race’ is unfair. The circumstances of the big, bad world are more stimulating than that expression. Memory recalls triumph and tragedy at both the public and the personal level.
While I cannot say my present existence is one of tranquillity I can say I find great enjoyment in recall. Despite what is written earlier the effort to do things and accomplish something is stressful. It takes its toll. Another word springs to the word processor, ‘valiant’. It’s a word I don’t think I’ve ever applied to myself before. Interesting I use it when the possibilities for adventure are now narrowed down. Such is life. So as humans down the ages have done I seek solace in my circumstances.
Lowlife: Short Story Collection Published
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