Doesn’t Matter If I’m the Only One

There are ways in which solitude and solitary pleasures are among the loveliest, the most inexplicably un-shareable delights we can have. Even those things that are enhanced by happy sharing with one companion, or many, can only be experienced internally in our own unique ways, through our own highly individualized filters and lenses of taste, belief, experience, knowledge, and longing.Digital illustration: From this Angle

The beauty of this is that the best things I experience or encounter can be met at several different levels. Even when I am among a host of fellow travelers on the occasion, I can have that communal adventure and be guided and shaped in my sense of its goodness and meaning by any or all of those around me, while the reflections in my heart may say to me, “and yet…” or find me collecting all of the data of the moment in some private interior compartment for later examination.

In those after-times, I am at leisure to contemplate the whole and all of its components and think whatever I will, feel whatever I will, now that I’m left to my own devices. From this slightly removed angle, my own particular skew, I may find that the true enjoyment of this part of my life comes as much from within, from my imperfect yet fully tailored perspective being so well suited to make me like what I have seen, heard, tasted, and sensed in it. That is a subtly different but wholly wonderful part of living life: being able, in solitude (whether actually alone or not) to see what is marvelous and admirable, exciting and fine, to me on my very own terms.

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I tend to believe that things happen the way they’re supposed to happen. Doesn’t mean I’m always going to enjoy or approve of either the process or the results–many things are hard to live through and accept in the average life. All the same, and even if it’s a touch fatalistic, I find a bit of useful equanimity in the idea that the greater balance will eventually prevail one way or another. Whether I can foresee or understand the outcome of any of life’s mysteries or not, this thought tempers my natural impatience just a little.

Would I rather that every loved one who has suffered or died had not? Of course! ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. But even if I could choose such things, how can I know which way the universe will tilt in response? Might the unseen, unplanned measure of counterbalance damage other loves, other lives? Much as I fidget inwardly, pretending at god-like wisdom and magnanimity, the responsibility is truly far too great a burden for me to desire. I’m always pulled up short by intimations of an unwelcome butterfly effect.

Even in smaller and more mundane things, I dread to think too much on what might have been or how I would choose to make anything significantly different. The choice is so likely to hold hidden traps and snares that I can’t bear to imagine how dreadfully I might skew the universe awry with one misstep and would rather not carry the burden of it. So no matter how I may long for a difference in the moment, if there’s no obvious way for my intervention to have a positive on the outcome of events I will likely continue to flap my wings in a rather guarded fashion, hoping that anything I stir up will only join the stream, the current that flows toward the greater good, even if I can’t begin to see it yet. My inability to recognize the larger pattern doesn’t in any way prove that it isn’t there.photoSo I watch and wait. But in the meantime I plan, always, to keep living. Moving forward is the only useful reality while I’m waiting for any additional facts to appear. And a much happier and more entertaining way to spend my time than in anxious huddling in corners. See you out there!

The Feast that Never Ends

Thanks to our kind friend Joelle, I met fellow blogger XB tonight over dinner. Her blog, ‘In Search of My Moveable Feast’ at http://www.xiaobonestler.com/, is a wonderful melange of food and culture spiced with her delightful wit. I’m also reminded by both blog-mate and the friends around the dinner table tonight–composer hosting, saxophonist and pianist and conductor gathered around the table with me as we all enjoyed the meal and conversation–that shared love of culture and other naturally crazy things is an endless banquet of marvels and wonders.

ratatouille ingredients + blackboard text

To dine is divine, and among friends the conviviality never ends . . .

Is the conversation inspired by the food? The food by the gathering? The gathering by the conversation?

Of course all three happen. In the case of a tableau like tonight’s at table, there can be so many possible tangents to pursue. Avidly swapping bits of life-story over splendid bowls of creamy cool beet soup with yogurt leads to thoughts of yet other meals, stories, and gatherings. Discovering common interests with newly met friends over a glass of wine: how can that not lead to further tales (tall and otherwise) and onward to inspire more the pleasure of dolmas and Greek salad, these then becoming sustenance for other hungers for knowledge and enjoyment?

It is, clearly, an infinite table, this one where strangers sit down to untasted treats and rise up as well-filled and newly minted fellow sojourners. Art is the avenue where all of these fine riches intersect: thought and music and speech and history and language and hope and hilarity and the sharing of ideas in inspiring new ways.

I don’t doubt that the cats, from their respective corners, were moderately bemused by our various enthusiasms, but I for one found in all of it great nourishment.