It has been one of “those” days, one of those all-too-few days, a blogworthy example of a day close to my ideal. Such days are rare but nonetheless necessary for mental and physical well being, vital in every sense of that word. It is quite difficult to articulate exactly how “those” days happen. Their character is a little shifty, transient to say the least, some aspects being universally desirable, others reflecting a more personal need while yet others are dependant on both past and present circumstances.
I absolutely condemn the notion so commonly held by younger generations (mine was no exception 50 years ago) that living is about having fun, partying, socialising, drinking, eating, holidaying, relaxing, shagging or any other hedonistic combination of these sensual pleasure seeking activities. I am not by the way condemning these activities only the idea that having participated and enjoyed them one has “lived”.
In addition we can not claim to have had one of “those” days simply because it has been pain or trouble free or not anti-positive in any other sort of way. Neither can good fortune by itself turn a day into one of “those” days or ill fortune prevent it from being so turned.
The fulfilment of an interest, ambition or project, work for its own sake, a meal well cooked, company enjoyed, profit realised, travel experienced, family activities, holidays, in fact all the good stuff that lives are made of, none of these in themselves explain why some days are one of “those” days. Good days they might be, satisfying or rewarding days but not necessarily one of “those” days.
The day in question, the day of which I write, was however one of “those” days. I have quite a few of these days now, they are addictive. Ever since I discovered that they can be produced when sufficient determination joins forces with a conducive mixture of sympathetic circumstances I will try to make one happen. Not always with success, sometimes the effort does not pay off and all I get is a merely good day.
This is how my day went today. To begin with I had, not unusually, designated the day as an Art day. I take advantage of the absence of my partner on one of her allday care missions to “do my thing” and although I would readily confess that I always miss her as soon as she has left home I still absolutely wallow in time on my own. This day I slipped gently into the necessary creative frame of mind over a fresh, early coffee, in our quiet, quiescent, peaceful house, which itself seemed to be actively encouraging rather than being just passive bricks and mortar. Firstly a few pages of a favourite author (Antony Trollope currently) and a line or two from a favourite poet (Walt Whitman), these together with an aroma of coffee and hot toast and I’m also getting old books, wooden furniture, wax polish, leather armchair and thinking that if this could be bottled my fortune would be made.
I am deliberately unhurried, going at my own pace, knowing exactly what happens next with my latest painting in progress entitled “Self Portrait Part 3, Soul”. In the studio I concoct a schedule of music for the day (I breath music as some folks breath oxygen!) and decide to have a favourites session starting with Beethoven’s Opus 130 followed by Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony, Shostakovich’s Viola Sonata (purists will note that these latter two are almost defiantly in the wrong order) followed up with RVW’s Viola Suite and Flos-Campi just to make it feel as though my partner is not far away if only metaphorically. After lunch when I have done with painting and moved over to a drawing project I shall waft along with Scriabin’s early Chopinesque, Debusseyish impressionistic piano music until it’s time to cook a well deserved dinner for my other-half. (Which today will be a fricassee of pork tenderloin medallions in a mushroom and tomato sauce with green beans and sauté potatoes). I paint and then I draw. I forget to eat but not to replenish the coffee machine.
How does this sound to you? This is not simply living in the moment is it? But more like filling up a hot, deep, steaming, fragrant pool of all my favourite things, firing up some incense and diving off the side in my meditational rubbers to float about in syrupy, gloopy unctuousness, semi-comatose in extreme self-indulgence and sensory overload. Well I am retired, I worked hard for it and its what I do! An exceptionally good day I would say but not, not so far anyway, enough for this day to have been one of “those” days.
Progress was positive if not spectacular and here they are, the painting, if that looks a little spooky to you its supposed to be, and the drawing, I am reproducing a scaled up version of an old engraving of St. Brides Church, London where my ancestors were christened.
Painting was frantic in the Opus 130, such Titanic strivings must be matched with Olympian efforts of one’s own to do the master any kind of justice. Mahler however was distractingly stupendous as usual, the air baton, a Rowney hog Fitch, frantically attempting to out-conduct Leonard Bernstein until finally arriving at the post orgasmic serenity one always achieves some moments after the last note of this work fades away.
Shostakovich’s Viola Sonata is a different matter. This is not emotional extravagance for the faint-hearted but with the smell of dying still lingering in my consciousness I very soon found myself out walking outdoors with a warm hearted Edwardian English gentleman on a creature infested, sunny, grassy afternoon in a downland vista of smoky chimneys, isolated villages, sheep and buttercups.
The feeling crept up almost unnoticed but suddenly this became one of “those” days.
I was nothing but myself, alone and glad to be so. An insignificant speck of nothingness in that infinite reality we call a universe, a reality of my own construction to make concrete an existence within which I “am”. Here all forces requiring me to be other than “I” are negated or destroyed. No obligation to apologise, excuse, dissemble, lie or accommodate. This is where my self could express its essence without audience or judge or critic for the understanding and interpretation of myself.
This revelatory experience is for me exactly what turns a good day into one of “those” days. A day of self discovery or the revelation of new potential. Here I can defend against those who would steal my self-rights, which is to my human rights. Here I can reject false dogma, pseudo science and any other threat which offers a crutch or false hope in exchange for a piece of myself. It is almost as though to exist requires everything else to not exist so that the “I” of me can be inspected, checked up on, studied, adjusted, cared for and loved, especially loved, in its unadulterated naked innocence.
Whenever possible I have been making days like this for most of my adult life as a kind of medicine or defensive panacea against agencies who would deny me the knowledge of the truth of my being.
I would argue that for any of us humans authentic being only happens on “those” days and that well lived lives can be measured by the number of them they contained.