Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Minimalist Urge

Occasionally, something inside me makes me want as little as possible.  I've always loved small cars.  Originally it was because English sports cars were small, and so was my Aunt's '66 VW Bug.  I never got the English sports car, but I was lucky enough to own that Bug for a few years.  I loved the zippiness of small cars, and the fact that I could park them where your standard American behemoth couldn't fit.  I drove a Honda CRX for 23 years.  I am almost certain I will never drive another car that good. Still, that's another story.  Now I love small cars for all those reasons, but also because I want to leave as light a footprint as possible.  I'd love to be able to pass by and leave no trace except maybe DNA from errant skin cells and hairs.  

I've always admired friends who had stripped their lives down to minimal possessions and were quite happy with things that way.  I've only known two who really managed it, and I've envied both of them.  The compact and seemingly unencumbered way they lived really appealed to me.  I still haven't sorted out why the lack of things appeals so strongly.  Is it because of my desire to have the least impact upon the world so as to damage it as little as possible, or is it because I'm a lazy swine at heart and would love to not have to deal with a pile of things?  It gets exhausting dealing with lots of things, so the latter could be the reason.  Life can be exhausting enough without having to deal with a pile of things at home.

I can recall being on ships and boats where everything was set in its place and nothing was just lying around.  Whenever I've seen that I've admired it.  I've written before about wishing that I could make my whole house that way, as though it were a seagoing yacht; everything lashed down securely, clean, oiled if need be, and ready for its intended use.  I know it can be done.  One of the two friends mentioned above was an alpine climber.  His room in a shared house was a picture of this kind of thing.  His climbing gear was all stowed properly, his books (main entertainment since he had no TV) were always in their case, no clothes lay about, no dirty coffee get the idea.  Can it be done by me, here?  That is the question and I'd have to say no at this point.  Two rambunctious children will see that idea right out the door with big grins on their impish mugs.

This minimalist urge extends to my feet.  I found shoes recently that are more like slippers or racing shoes for a distance runner in profile, but good for all day wear.  I have been wanting something like that for decades.  They feel almost as though I am not wearing shoes.  This isn't necessarily just because of how my feet feel. It's as much about my perception of how I move and how it feels to move.  I feel faster and quieter and even lighter, as I want to feel.  This is definitely about aging and my ongoing attempt to slow that process, on some level.  Who wouldn't want to maintain a feeling (or call it an illusion if you like) that one can move like Fred Astaire or Cliff Branch if he wants?  Upon reflection, this also is part of my ongoing rejection of the national paradigm of bigger and louder.  Bigger and louder ain't better!

Now I have to turn in.  There's more to this, but this little essay will turn to mush if I don't quit writing it.


Monday, November 26, 2012

In another in our series of the signs of aging, we examine today the inability to feast.  Thanksgiving has just passed, and for some reason I had a definite plan to eat far too much.  I simply wanted to wallow in food.  About the only thing in the typical Thanksgiving Day meal that I cannot stomach is stuffing.  Strange thing, that, since stuffing is what I most wanted to do to myself.  I envisioned three full plates heaping with turkey, green beans with almonds, mashed potatoes, yams, gravy, dinner rolls with enough butter for three on each, and endless glasses of a good inky ,buttery white wine to wash it all down.  The plan included at least two hours for this activity, followed by minimal movement.  

Why I wanted this is still beyond me.  Perhaps it was nothing more than a gastronomic midlife crisis.  I just wanted to prove that I still could eat like I did in my Twenties.  Perhaps it was a reaction to the constant watchfulness I now practice (Die Wacht am Diet!), though not always very well.  I just wanted out of the cage; to stop worrying about it for a day.  To hell with high blood pressure and the inability to easily bend over and tie my shoes!  Who cares about that shit?  That ain't livin'!  I'll show ya' livin', Boy!  Bring me that platter of turkey, and those rolls....

Yeah, whatever the reason . . . I didn't make it.  I got as far as a plate and a half, and two and a half glasses, and a few rich cookies, and it ended.  The appetite was GONE, not to return until around 9PM when we were safe back home and the feasting done, and then all I wanted was a slice of left over turkey between two halves of a slice of sourdough.  There was contentment.  The food was great, as was the company.  The wine was excellent and there was no shortage of it, but I felt oddly deflated.  It was as though I had the hot young thing all set up to fool around with all afternoon, but I could only go once and that was it and didn't want no mo'.  

I did have that full feeling, but it was a compact tightness in my stomach (which projected in front of me like the sonar bulb on a destroyer), not the expansive, sleepy, carbo and tryptophan fullness I used to get.  It was not that comfortable feeling of all of me being full like one of those huge sex pillows you could get back in the Sixties.

Where did that go?