Thursday, February 9, 2017

Serious Business

On this blog, I've often written of my love of snow globes, poetry, Christmas trees, and everything that is done for its own sake and is purely celebratory, or purely ornamental, or purely anything-other-than-utilitarian.

Sometimes, however-- rarely, but sometimes-- the very opposite appeals to me. This is one of the interesting aspects of the human condition, that two contradictory things can appeal to us for the opposite reasons. We can enjoy a poem or a song lyric for its marvellous economy, and we can enjoy a sprawling epic novel for its luxurious abundance.

Just now I was helping a lady who couldn't find a particular book. I wasn't sure where she was looking so rather than have a complicated conversation about it, I asked her to show me where she had been looking and walked with her.

As we walked along, I felt a frisson of pleasure that I sometimes feel at such moments-- the pleasure of being involved in something, being busy with something, having a shared project with somebody, whether it's something big or small.

Once I was standing at the boarding desk of an airport, waiting to board my plane. Members of a para-athletic team, all of whom were wheelchair-bound, were being boarded first. It was quite an undertaking, and airport staff were coming in and out of the boarding gate, consulting with each other, waiting intently, hurrying, coordinating. They all looked so serious and intent and purposeful, I found myself enjoying the spectacle, the atmosphere of bustle and purpose and camaraderie.

I sometimes think that even dogs enjoy this. Have you ever seen a dog helping out when furniture is being moved? Obviously, they can't carry anything, but they prick up their ears, hang on every motion, and accompany the work-team with a very officious and important air.

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