Saturday, August 9, 2014

Just in Ambles?



I am most at fault. Few things prove my inability to stay in the moment more than my daily (if not three of four times) search for my glasses. Ha! Seeing clearly at the time of not reading or not writing means I do not need them, and so... Where did I leave them last? So too for so very many details in our lives. The friend visits and leaves, even after a day or more of having been in my presence, and my wife or another will ask after some details about our conversation, and I shall have neglected mentally to record them, or even to ask with more interest in the first place. Does the loss of one's insight in the moment also slide away from us so easily? Is that why we are so slow to evolve? In the great grand sweep of history we've had thousands of phrases that promote our well-being, well-doing, well-seeing and well-living, yet here, in the eighth month of 2014, there is so very much on the news about strife and contention and greed and hate. On the tv news I hear or may see the degradation of mankind's potential. So much war. But blessed be the circumstances, not in my own yard. I'm geographically very privileged. And the statistics on the Bell Curve would indicate that...

Wait ... let me find my glasses.

Giving one's full attention to a matter does not ensure memorization. There are very many scripts I've learned in my lifetime of theatre, major roles I've performed, and though I recall snippets, I certainly would need much re-investment to perform the role again. Even as I type I cannot recall the names of all the characters I've played. Yet still, your identification with those characters is at stake; your having seen the shows, read the scripts, or performed in them, let alone playing alongside. As such there's my being Mabel (in Pirates of Penzance when I was 14). The year after that I played Hamlet's crotchety old Polonius. In my 20's I was Og the Leprechaun in Finian's Rainbow and...., well, many other characters along the way. Recently I was Morrie in Tuesdays with Morrie (for some 50 performances!) Still I would have to relearn the lines. And I've played the lead in South Pacific, and the lead in Educating Rita, and... But the point is, I've learned these reams of lines and can recall actually relatively little. One of my favourites is some of the extensive Latin I learned from Friel's play, Translations, and I sometimes will impress with my "Quantumvum cursum longum fesumque morator sol", but... You had to be there. I was. Played the role. And yet I cannot recall but a smidgen of details, show after show, whether I performed or directed, for some 50 years. Where are those casts now?

As I type two seals cavort at the entrance to the small bay four floors down from my apartment window. They distract, yet I've seen them before and am able to keep this narrative going out of familiarity. I wonder how often we amble along with our friends in conversation and so too let the words slide into a connectivity from which we take the general gist of time as communion in situ, such that we hardly focus on the actual factual details and accept the expectation that our friend shall always be there, and that this time is not the last time, and that we can re-gather the fact-content later, or again? Like finding my glasses in the house. Yet I am altogether more aware of where I put them down, or into which pocket they go when out and about; it is the fear of losing something that makes us more aware. Janice Cook in the Orkney Islands in 1975 taught me that the trick of memorization is to be a mental tape-recorder, devoid of one's own thought-chatter, and entirely to be receptive to the phrases and pauses and facts of the other. It served me well for awhile. And now, in my seventh decade of being, I take on practicing it again.

But I am guilty of not actualizing it when on the amble along our sea-front with my dear friend Justin. He sat occasionally in bits of shade and we dialogued. And for every hundred of his words I perhaps can recall an actual five. Yet words give life meaning. Meaning is made up of words. And beware the traditions of believing in the constructs of history and the infallibility of pronouncements; we are ontological and solipsistic and fallible. And our attention span is limited. Now, could you repeat all I've just said? Could I? Ha! Not without my glasses!




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