Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Level Head

I love arguing philosophy, though I'm hopelessly ignorant about it – or rather, probably, because I'm ignorant: but I generally come away from one of these internet passages of arms with a deep sense of failure: of having been glib when I should have been silent, of having pretended to understandings I don't really have. My philosophical education amounts to what any undergraduate should have, and no more: it's just enough for an engaging talker and accomplished bullshit artist to duck from tree to tree, taking potshots, and never staying in the open long enough for anyone to take a careful return shot.

So it's fun. I get a thrill from punching above my weight. But I come away like Boswell from a bawdy house, wondering what mental diseases I may have contracted or spread, vowing not to go again, and carrying a strong sense of having wasted my powers for a moment's trivial gratification. I only do it when I'm anxious or distressed, and trying to escape something.

The ground is wet, and the morning's been showery, but it held off long enough for me to ride dry to Tosi's. No wifi here, which I'm beginning to view as a blessing. Social media siphons away an alarming amount of me. I have a sense of urgency about time: I have been wasting it, scattering my attention, skipping from one shiny thing to the next. Time to slow down, breathe, and settle to my real work.

But at the same time, it hasn't all been bawdy houses. I feel I have really been hammering out what I think I'm doing, in my massage practice, in a number of online conversations. Now I have to rewrite or tweak much of what's on my massage site: I say a number of things there that I either wouldn't say at all, now, or else would say differently. And it's only now that I'm clear on that, that I feel I can go on to build my practice. I'd like to about double the amount of massage I do, but I haven't done anything to advertise or promote my practice for a couple years: I've been coasting along on loyal clients and word of mouth. Now that I'm really done moving house, and really have formulated what my massage practice is, maybe I'm ready to take it on the road.

Fifty-four. 3x3x3x2. It is a number, as Poshi said last night, that is almost impossible not to factor, if you're inclined that way. Three times 18, for one thing: I've had the time to grow to adulthood three times. It's a little embarrassing that I haven't managed to do it even once. At the DMV, renewing my driver's license for another eight years, the man – about my age, with his sparse hair gathered into a gray ponytail – had to retake my picture. “The computer doesn't like this one,” he explained, making a rapid side-to-side motion with a flat hand. “The eyes aren't in a horizontal line.”

I sat back down for another picture. “I've always had trouble keeping a level head,” I said.

“Yeah, me too,” he said ruefully, and snapped another one.


Zhoen said...

The best is yet to come. Eternal now. Enjoy the turning of the year, forget the number.

carolee said...

don't trust a computer to decide if you're level headed. :)

Peter said...

"Three times 18, for one thing: I've had the time to grow to adulthood three times. It's a little embarrassing that I haven't managed to do it even once."

That and several other lines really struck my fancy today. Happy belated birthday, by the way, old friend.

NT said...

Happy Birthday, Dale!

After another protracted round of distractions, I'll be returning to Not Coming Back (and especially the cover) this week.

Sorry for the delay.

marly youmans said...

Very clever, Mr. Wise Mole. The extra birthday must have done you some good, as there are many clever moments in this post. I like the one Peter liked a lot, and the whole level-head business.

Good cheer. I am still ahead of you in the numbers game! And it hasn't bothered me in a long time. 40 was a terrible day... Although I must say that when I was in clinic the other day with my husband, I was tickled to be taken for a med student! Immaturity has its benefits. :)

Jayne said...

You? Ignorant about philosophy? You don't fool us.

Happy belated birthday, Dale. :)

Anne said...

Dale dear - three of my five children are older than you. Think how much can happen, and how much philosophy you have time to learn before you get to be as old as I. But if I were you I would find something more exciting to do than learning a lot of philosophy. My second husband was a philosophy professor and being one did not improve either his life or mine.

Dale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dale said...

Thanks Anne! Oh, I have no intention of spending much more time with philosophy. As Omar Khayyam said (or didn't, depending on whom you ask):

Myself when young did eagerly frequent
doctor and saint, and heard great argument
about it and about: but evermore
came out by the same door as in I went.