Friday, February 25, 2011

Your Choice!

Choices, choices, choices. I am discovering, however, that the real question is not so much what one chooses, but rather what one avoids. The difference in posture is readily apparent upon even the slightest analysis. For example, to debate a choice of alternatives almost inherently suggests that one or the other will go ahead; whereas a consideration of whether one wishes to avoid something altogether does not imply engagement. There is another respect in which the two views of dealing with the world are distinct. Merely choosing one course of action over another prefers the value of adopting that course for the sake of that course alone. On the other hand, determining to avoid an undertaking prefers the higher value to oneself of letting that matter slip away.

Monday, February 21, 2011

What is the answer? What is the question?

The morning began with a bracing email from my twenty-five year old niece. The communication was one of several recent ones about a photography contract she had been asked to sign. My niece has spent upwards of four years studying to be a professional photographer. The singular feature of this contract is that it contained no mention of compensation payable to my niece for her photographs. An even more alarming subsequent development is that the owner of the property where the photographs were taken has at last made it clear that she never had any intention of paying for the photos, and as a result the taking of photos on the property will no longer be tolerated effectively closing the door to the least suspicion that there was any sort of commercial arrangement between my niece and the property owner other than a once qualified indulgence. In fairness to my niece, part of the reason she was misguided is that the property owner proffered a contract which would normally have included compensation but which only appropriated to her an exclusive proprietary interest in the photographs. In fairness to the property owner, she felt the taking of photographs might compromise her privacy without control of the product.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Getting Inside Oneself

Getting inside oneself is not I suspect something most of us do with any marked degree of facility. Such an achievement (for I consider it to be one) would seemingly be even less likely when surrounded by fifty other people in relatively close quarters. Yet that is precisely the experience I have had this evening while attending a birthday party for the second wife of an acquaintance of mine. Given the tenuous nature of my relationship with the primary persons involved it is not entirely unimaginable that I was able to distance myself from the proceedings, although I do not think that one needs to feel estranged from others in order to get inside oneself and engage in self-discovery. The process is not exclusive or limiting. Getting into anything (which of course is really nothing more than a metaphor for getting into oneself) usually involves profit and pleasure of some description, even enjoying oneself wholeheartedly and perhaps without inhibition, but nowhere is it written that the undertaken is solitary.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Birthday Party

Almost anyone with a heart knows that planning a birthday party - however informal or extravagant - is as much fun for the planner as it is for the celebrant. Given my restricted social calendar these days (I am becoming tired with age) and my preference for spontaneity in any event (one has to capitalize upon the propitious moments whenever possible), it is not surprising that I should have warmed rapidly to the idea of an impromptu get-together this afternoon with my long-standing friend, Jill, who is today celebrating her forty-ninth birthday.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

How are things?

At 9:00 o'clock this morning I had an appointment to have my eyes tested by a local optometrist. The appointment was my annual eye examination. As I believe is now standard practice in most optometric clinics, I was first interrogated by an assistant who photographed the wall of my eye with a view to giving the photographs to the optometrist for subsequent detailed consideration.  When the assistant and I settled into the business of the day, she politely enquired after my health and general status.  For some reason, rather than merely giving the stock reply that all was well, I dilated upon the subject.  Specifically I wondered aloud how it is that some people through no fault of their own are treated to bad luck while others escape it entirely.

Hints for Living

No doubt you have discovered as I have that the less complicated life is, the better. Granted there are some issues in life which are unavoidably perplexing, usually involving sensitive emotional issues. But when it comes to mere survival, the techniques are rudimentary.

The starting point for any successful career is to get out of bed. The corollary to this observation is that one should go to bed. Getting a good night’s sleep is one of nature’s gifts. Even a disturbed sleep, if taken between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., can provide far more improvement to the average day than almost anything else. I suspect it has something to do with keeping oneself synchronized with what is happening around one, whether it is the rest of humanity or the birds and the bees. It is at times a temptation particularly for the younger set to linger into the late hours of the evening or the early hours of the morning. This is a practice to be avoided largely because it betrays less a calculated willingness to do so than a lack of conviction in having completed one’s daily affairs. There comes a time in a day to put down the hoe. Anyway, having got oneself to bed, the same theory applies at the other end; namely, enough is enough. Assuming one hasn’t contaminated oneself with debilitating additives and self-medication the night before, there should be a natural enthusiasm to greet the day. Even if there isn’t, after eight hours one has effectively exhausted any benefit to be derived from one’s lair.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Council Meeting

In point of fact it wasn’t a Council meeting that we attended this evening in the Council Chambers of the Municipality. It was actually an “Information Session”, a session specifically designed for the recently elected Councillors as well as any other members of local Boards and Committees who cared to attend. It was in my capacity as a Board member that I joined in this enterprise.

My specific intention for attending, however, was to put a face to the man with whom I had dealt on previous occasions, an exceedingly pleasant lawyer from a nearby County Town, a man whom I had never met in person. This gentleman was giving this evening’s address to Council on the prickly issue of “Conflict of Interest”.

Winter Lull

The yellow sunlight pours through the tall narrow windows at the front of my office. Everything within is bathed in honey-coloured light. It is mid-winter and commerce has entirely subsided. I am just as happy for the reprieve. It is a positive delectation to be so inordinately peaceful. Meanwhile I occupy myself by imagining what if anything I can do to improve the physical environment but conclude it is saturated. Nonetheless I place a call to an upholsterer to enquire about having a roller towel made for the bathroom to replace the threadbare towel made years ago by a gentleman no longer whinnying among us. Otherwise I admit this is likely to be it forever apart from the on-going maintenance. I am at the opposite end of my career. Even if I were to indulge in idle speculation about the future it is better not to disturb the character of what has been developed over the past thirty-five years. I remember when I took over the business of the old lawyer who retired at 82 years of age after fifty-six years of practice there was still a hand-operated Gestetner copier and pot-bellied oil stove in his office. Each era has its patina.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Batten Down the Hatches

It is not uncommon to hear people speak disparagingly, or at least half in jest, about high-strung A-type personalities, those individuals who distinguish themselves by being obsessive or neurotic. The attributes or ramifications of such people are partly pop psychology and the term has been determined obsolete by many researchers. Nevertheless even to the layman there are obviously people who are less laid back than others so it is not entirely unreasonable or inconvenient to permit the generalization.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tea Time

It’s 2:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. The dazzling sun dipping in the southwest is beaming through the Venetian blinds making my eyes blink. Today’s newspaper and the week’s unread magazines and journals are piled upon the kitchen table. We’re clad in our comfortable lounging clothes awaiting the arrival of our guests for tea. Meanwhile the kitchen is humming with activity and pregnant with appetizing smells, mostly garlic and rosemary. His Lordship is hard at work preparing lemon/lime hummus and a sauce Créole.

One's Portion in Life

One doesn't have to look very far to encounter people whose fortunes in life are far less favourable than one's own. Looking out over these sometimes distressing fates it is difficult to allow oneself to become anxious about one's own lesser hardships. Nonetheless the universe is ultimately personal and our private reality defines our destiny whatever it may be. The thread which is common to the challenging experiences of both ourselves and others is the manner in which we address them.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow Day

Normally I am already awake at six o’clock in the morning. But last night I had gone to bed later than usual, and the night before I hadn’t slept well at all. So last night I got caught up and slept relatively peacefully. The last thing I recall before retiring was looking out my study window to see if the snow had begun. When the radio alarm suddenly announced the six o’clock news it startled me. For the previous twenty-four hours the media had been predicting a snow storm for most of Eastern Ontario, and this morning there was no let up in the pronouncements. Aside from the Egyptian uprising in the Far East there seemingly wasn’t much else to occupy the journalists.