The lapse of luxury

"It is bitter to have loved and lost than never to laugh it off," Bamuall Subtler

Monday, January 01, 2007

Setting the Sail

I’m raising the sail, setting out from a bay with a bad flu, but harbouring no ill will. So many lovely people helped meek misanthropic me in 2006, almost innumerable, some unwittingly. My partner Paul with his love, patience and commitment, resolutely an artist. Yoga teachers Ron and Dan, and my fellow naked yoga buddies, who continue to show me how to accept myself physically, spiritually. The Vancouver General Hospital Outpatient Clinic teaching me the crutch of Cognitive Therapy. My many friends and family continue to love me despite my many failings. You know who you are GB, BL, JL, KW, RG, CM, KWM, MJM and many more.

And I’m quitting my job of the last 10 years. I poured my soul into it. But a job is no cask – it’s a sieve. I’m just learning that now, that a job is just day to day and doesn’t build character or karma. I suppose I’m brave for quitting. But I’m scared and I wonder if I’ll survive. My grandma Opal helps me from the afterlife with a generous donation.

Setting the sail – stale metaphor for the start of a new year. Particularly for me because I feel embarrassed about recognizing these numerical markers, “beginning of a new year.” Arbitary rituals. What rituals aren’t arbitrary? Maybe rituals can’t help but be arbitrary but that doesn’t negate their value.

Now, back to Setting the Sail, a gamelan piece properly known by its Javanese title Babar Layar. While I listen (tonight in a hot bath) all the clichéd ideas of “setting the sail” leave my mind. This piece which I’ve loved for 20 years, from the first moments I’ve heard it, changes my mood. My petty concerns morph into grand schemes, my heart broadens to accept my squeamish dislikes. I’m more tolerant because I’m embarking on some grand adventure. Possibilities are endless, mysterious. The music plays simple but subtle tricks with minor and major modes, and long periods of repetition split up by rhythmic irregularities. And the tune manipulates my inner ear so deliberately, and with such gravity, that I feel that this is no cheap trick, its not merely trying to delight and entertain me, but teach me something.

I hope I keep remembering Babar Layar as I try to reimagine my life this year.

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