Saturday, April 01, 2006

A NEW OLD PRINCIPLE

When first introduced to this beach-side community I was advised to avoid formality and wear anything I wanted to wear. In that pursuit I may have stumbled on a principle of life that should be recognized as inviolate and omnipresent for us all. It came to me when I realized that some of my clothes were wearing out. There had been a closet full of them when I retired and I continued to wear them, cleaning and laundering shirts, trousers, coats and jackets, some of which began to get pretty raveled and frayed. The important thing to note, however, is that the things that remained in the best condition were the ones I liked the least.

The principle applied to clothing would go something like this: Over time we will tend to dress ourselves more frequently in the things of which we are most fond, and will eventually be left with only those items in our closet we do not particularly care for—or more or less hate.

The principle applies to any number of things; another example is with foodstuffs. When I fill the pantry and larder by shopping for groceries, I find by the end of the following week I am subsisting on cans and boxes of things that are probably only palatable to chemists and for which I have no memory of buying. You see, the point is unavoidable: we wear or eat ourselves into a relatively miserable existence.

How about our furniture? Those comfortable and comforting but now worn, shabby sprung sofas and chairs may still, but not for long, stand beside pieces that are uninviting, stiffly formal and impossible to relax with or around or upon. What about those dishes and tableware gradually reduced to heirlooms which must not be scratched or broken under pain of death, or crockery that not only doesn’t match but were visually intolerable with oatmeal and good old stew in them over the years? I do not want to belabor the obvious, which I am now doing, but think if you dare of the various body-parts, muscles and sensory areas, that will eventually be the first to go.

This inevitable descent into a relative purgatory must be avoided at all costs. Its operational center is pure vanity and pleasure-seeking of course, but is that all bad? In Ecclesiastes 8:15, the writer finds life’s pleasures not only acceptable but commendable. “So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat, drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun.” Living as I do under the beach sun, you may think I have written myself into a corner here, but I will show the case to be otherwise. To continue on the path of wisdom only requires that you either replace everything you own with things you like, credit card at the ready, or at least bring in only a few disliked activities or possessions at odd intervals and in the smallest increments possible. Even these you can whittle down as you advance in years. This, at least, is my advice and my plan, thank you.

1 comment:

Doug said...

A nice, light-hearted missive on this April Fool's Day. And yet full of wisdom at the same time ... hmmmmm. Very nice.