In the film “Manhattan” there is a scene near the end where Isaac is listing for himself all the things that make life worth living.
Groucho Marx, Willie Mays, the 2nd movement of the Jupiter Symphony, Louis Armstrong’s recording of “Potato Head Blues”, Swedish movies, “Sentimental Education” by Flaubert, Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, the “Apples and Pears” by Cezanne, and Tracy’s face.
This last one, if you haven’t seen the film, is a reference to his ex-lover who, having been dumped by Isaac, is now moving to Europe to go to college. Isaac is regretting the breakup and wants reconciliation, but it’s too late.
I was reminded of the scene this week when I read a startlingly good piece about cultivating things in our lives that are repeatable regardless of other circumstances. I can’t link to it because it isn’t yet published anywhere, sorry.
Isaac’s list begins as a reminder of how much joy and comfort there is available to him without reliance on the things that are not. He spoils it at the end with, “Tracy’s face”, because he can’t have that, even though he can always imagine it if it makes him happy.
It’s odd that even though imagining what we can’t have makes us unhappy, we still spend an awful lot of time doing it.
As we begin what has already felt like an unceremoniously swift descent into colder weather accompanied by another increase in COVID-related angst it feels like the best way to get through is one step at a time.
I learned something important about myself this week that I’m hoping will ease me through the next few months.
Reading about vintage gaming computers I developed a sudden and unquenchable desire to once again play a game I sunk too many hours into during the 90s.
It was a far from straightforward project, requiring a lot of technical geekery that had me reliving some rather shameful moments from the past.
“Dinner’s ready,” comes the call from the kitchen.
“OK, I’m just writing an email, Be there in a minute,” I call back when, in fact, I am engaged trying to connect an old joystick to a piece of modern equipment for which it was never intended.
By the end of the week, after spending much more time on the project than I am willing to share with you here everything was working perfectly.
I felt very pleased with myself, and I haven’t touched it since.
I wasn’t surprised by my sudden loss of interest. Instead, it reminded me of the time I built a computer from scratch and how, when I turned it on the first time and saw it boot up properly, I felt a sudden burst of grief.
I do love a journey, often more than a destination.
Walking the dogs with my sister she is in sober mood.
“They’re already running out of toilet rolls in the supermarket,” she tells me.
“In the news, I saw a report advising people to do their Christmas shopping early this year,” I say.
She’s unimpressed. “A lot of people have spent all year watching TV, drinking too much and unable to get away from their families so it’s been pretty much like Christmas since March,”
“If people can’t think of anything else to do with their time apart from that they’re not really helping themselves are they?”
“I guess not.”
As I leave her at the end of my road she says,
“Are you walking this afternoon?”
“I don’t think so,” I tell her, “I’m trying to fix an old laptop and I want to get it finished.”