Thursday, March 17, 2016

Middle of the Night

It's 2:06 a.m. on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 2016.  We made the mistake of going to bed at 9:00 o'clock last evening (no doubt saturated and exhausted by the rehashing of the Republican primary results and all that pertains to Donald Trump including the foreshadowed implosion of the GOP).  Now we're both perched at the dining room table drinking black coffee and listening to the sprinklers on the lawn through the open patio door.

I have been awake since shortly after midnight.  It's 72℉ at the moment.  Even though I had turned on the air conditioner I still found it clammy.  When I couldn't get back to sleep I began searching the internet for the name of my physician's daughter whom I recently learned is giving TED Talks in London, England where she and her beau are living.  Though I didn't find the TED Talk connection I found endless other diverting material.  I am intrigued by the phenomenal success of the young lady. Her entire family distinguishes itself as world travellers in addition to being hopelessly athletic (her father and late mother even once ran a Marathon in Greece).

As we sit here re-filling our respective coffee cups I am informed that Frank Sinatra, Jr. died in Daytona Beach last evening and that Donald Trump once owned the Plaza Hotel in New York City.  The Plaza is currently in receivership.  About thirty-five years ago I recall having enquired about the cost of a room at the Plaza.  It was about $250 per night.  I decided to forego the privilege and stayed instead with my host in his tiny bachelor apartment.  I always regretted not having stayed at the Hotel especially when I discovered shortly afterwards that it was closing for major renovation.  Anyway all was not lost because we eventually ended staying there for a weekend.  The rate had climbed to $850 per night by that time.  We had a hamburger there for about $35. The lobby was constantly jammed with tourists though remarkably the astute staff knew who we were when we squeezed our way through the masses to get to the cordoned elevator. The elevator was manned by a young though ghoulish-looking butler in black tie and tails.  He had long black hair and his face was laden with what appeared to be white pancake makeup. He repeatedly told us that we were to let him know if we required anything - ANYthing! We never took him up on the offer except to enquire how the portable wall-computer system worked in the room to govern the universal light switches. The room had exceptionally high ceilings, tall French doors on the windows with floor-to-ceiling draperies and bowed wrought iron railings on the outside lower portion of the windows. The bathroom was the size of most standard hotel rooms. The Doorman at the front of the Hotel pressed upon us to use the Phantom Rolls Royce to take us to Shubert Theatre on Broadway to see a show (Nöel Coward's "Blithe Spirit" starring Rupert Everett and Angela Lansbury whom we coincidentally met at the Green Door when arriving in the Rolls, she in a chauffeur-driven BMW 5 series). After the show we dined at Sardi's where I recollect having had a superb steak tartare. The staff had that delightful urban combination of blasé efficiency and personableness.

When I met with my hair architect yesterday for my usual 3-week visit we chatted briefly about his business.  He is from New York City.  He told me that business is going well and that he has just hired another stylist.  Apparently traffic to his business is driven largely by social media. I suspect he is at least 55 years of age.  He has had some serious health issues in the past but has fully recovered.  He asked me whether I missed my law practice to which my instant and categorical answer was "No!"  I assured him that I hadn't any regrets about my practice but that I was equally capable of bearing its deprivation. Nonetheless I qualified the blanket observation by saying that I still felt the need to do something productive. An obsession of this nature is of course not uncommon but I am not convinced that it is something which will ever cease to hold me captive. I don't limit the yearning to employment oriented stuff.  I feel the constant need to avoid lapsing into disuse. Certainly my amateur writing has become my mechanism for releasing this energy.  But I also do whatever I can to maintain a regime of physical exercise which is almost exclusively restricted to bicycling. I won't pretend that my joints and muscles don't bother me perpetually, but oddly I can muster the strength to bicycle even though walking would be out of the question. And don't even mention running or skating or skiing!  Yikes!

Ideally one reaches a point in life where one is satisfied with one's accomplishments. There cannot however be anyone who is completely satisfied on that point. Perhaps that's the ultimate advantage of grandchildren, something to divert one's attention during those final years of amortization and vacant realization. Likely for those who are truthful, the measure of success is a preoccupation which pales in comparison to the mere act of having done it. The objective seems to be acceptance, nothing more grand. Speaking philosophically, there is certainly some logical strength to that posture.  Indeed one has to wonder who is happier, the chap who is complacent about his past or the one who is intent upon reiterating the reasons for its delight. Then too there is the contaminating element of disappointment to consider. Again I don't think anyone is entirely free of such misgivings.  Dismay may at times align with poor choices and bad decisions; at other times it may revolve around personal disapproval. Obviously I haven't embraced the theory that the time comes to abandon the issue altogether.  In fact I am intent upon pursuing my ambition as long as I can. Granted I may end by diluting the enthusiasm to comprise nothing more provocative than reading a good book but the underlying theme whatever the means remains to improve upon the product. Part of the resolution may be to come to grips with the wretched details of oneself. While undoubtedly there are many who feel they have already captured their essence and have fully blossomed, I willing admit that I am yet constrained by the prejudice of society (or at least my perception of it) and I continue to be both guided and motivated by those factors in the conduct and assessment of myself. While I have occasionally indulged myself to imagine what I might do and say if I were completely uninhibited, by and large I conclude that such lack of restraint is more calculated as an exhibition than an imperative. Let's face it, apart from the personal satisfaction of introspection, most people could care less about such private matters. And if one were to be unabashedly pragmatic about it, there is really little to be achieved by  self-examination.  What matters to most people is the identification of common ground and to knead those threads of mutuality into a relationship.  We should after all give others the credit we no doubt attribute to ourselves; namely the capacity to fathom the qualities of another's character.

It is now 4:12 a.m. and I believe I have exhausted anything further I might usefully say.  I have at least temporarily tamed that buoyant particle of productivity within.  I can for the moment stare down whatever feelings of deficiency prompted me to fulfill this need.

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