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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Musing's Amusing

But it's not for the birds   …

One of the joys of retirement is doing nothing occasionally. The other day in the park, I was munching an apple, pondering nothing in particular, when I spotted a bird pecking at something in the grass. I was struck by the difference in our respective demeanors. While I was relaxing on a bench, the bird was on red alert. Every staccato peck was immediately followed by herky-jerky surveillance of its immediate surroundings, making sure that last peck was not final. I felt sorry for the bird, realizing it probably will never experience a relaxing meal.

Of course, doing nothing is an illusion. Your brain is always active if you're not catatonic (and even that is not entirely true). Unfocused rumination is not easy in our society. We are constantly bombarded by visual, auditory, gustatory, olfactic, and haptic stimuli. Throw in texting and sexting, jogging and blogging, lugging and mugging, moving and grooving (OK, I'll stop now), and you realize you have to make a serious effort just to stop your constant activity. What exactly do we have in mind today when we think of relaxation? I don't know.

I imagine relaxation as an approach to minimal expenditure of energy. Clearly, you would have to quiesce your large muscles (but not your heart, of course; just its rhythmic rate). Slow and deep breaths. Reduction in reception of external stimuli. Try not to think about that annoying elephant in the room and the 800-pound gorilla gaining on you. If you can manage to attenuate your energy usage enough to allow yourself stream-of-consciousness musing then, to quote James Joyce:
"... I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes." — Molly Bloom's soliloquy, from Joyce's novel Ulysses

Post 1,779 Musing's Amusing
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