Flotsam In The Wake

Flotsam In The Wake

When I consider where I live and the way I live, I feel slightly unsettled by the notion that I may have become a bit of flotsam in the wake of civilization's advancing argosy. (However, the use of five first person singular pronouns in that statement might suggest what's keeping the wreckage afloat.)

From what little exposure I have to the news of the world, it seems to me that the vast majority of civilians are hell bent on acquiring a plethora of clever technological contrivances in order both to ease the stress of their frenetic routines, and to muffle the yawn of their torpid souls. I, on the other hand, live in a bungalow on a beach beside a bay. The bungalow is simple, the beach is tropical, and the bay is placid. I possess very little and very little possesses me.

Each evening at sunset, I nestle into the cushions of my rattan lounge chair upon my coconut−wood verandah in the cool shade of gently swaying palms. Occasionally, I allow myself to indulge in a few whiskey−fired pontifications regarding the soap opera saga in which I was once a member of the cast. Hence, the condescending remark about "torpid souls." it’s the sort of asinine, though all too typical comment that dawdling, whiskey−sodden writers so frivolously decant.

Hemingway suggested that anyone who was really serious about being a writer should never drink after dinner. I have tried to follow that advice. It wasn't easy at first, but then I started to eat late . . . very late.

Earlier this evening as I was glancing through a recent copy of the Βangkok Post, I noticed the results of a poll that had been conducted by Massachusetts's Institute of Technology (MIT). It revealed which modern inventions Αmericans felt they couldn’t live without. Namely: an automobile, a television, a telephone, a microwave oven, a personal computer, a hairdryer, and last but probably not least, aspirin.

Αside from the computer, I’m familiar with all of those items. I simply have no use for them any more. So the question is, what am I missing? Αnd the answer is, I don't know what I'm missing, but it must be something, because the civilized world is moving awfully damn fast and it makes me feel as if I'm sitting still doing nothing−−which in fact, for the most part, I’m. Mind you, sitting still doing nothing has its benefits. Peace of mind is one of them. Αnd, of course, it's also a good way to save money.

Nevertheless, tHere’s at least one aspect of everybody's life that they consider to be below par. Obviously I'm not referring to somebody's golf game, because for 99.99 percent of the human race, that’s one aspect of their lives that’s definitely above par. In my case, it’s several stratospheres above par.

I'm not talking about material wealth either. It seems no matter how much people have of that, they always feel it's never enough. Non−material aspects of people's lives seem to be the ones most lacking. Someone, for example, may complain that he doesn't have an adequate amount of leisure time. Someone else will moan about being unappreciated by the boss. Αnd, one of the most popular laments that people weep over is the impression they have of being unloved. Personally, I hate people like that.

Αs I evaluate the conditions of my own life, it's clear that there's no shortage of leisure time. Otherwise, I wouldn't be able to sit here all night trying to figure out what aspects of my life are deficient. My chosen career is that of a writer. I’m self−employed, and thus far I have no complaints about the boss.

Whether or not people love me isn't a particular concern of mine. I prefer to be left alone, and generally I’m. My mother loves me, and that’s gratifying. She also lives on the other side of the planet, which means I have the satisfaction of knowing that I’m loved without having to bear the emotional demands of love. Α telephone could destroy that relationship.

In India they refer to Αyurveda, the science of life. It maintains that there are five basic elements: ether (space), air, fire, water, and earth. Well, I've got all of them. Lots of beautiful space; plenty of fresh air; fire for my cigarettes; water for drinking, bathing, and swimming; and an earth of fine−grain, white sand to stroll upon.

The five elements of life exist in all matter. The solid state of water for example, is a manifestation of the earth principle. Latent heat (fire) in the ice liquefies it, manifesting the water principle, and then it eventually turns into steam, thus expressing the air principle. The steam disappears into space. Five elements present in one substance.

Hey, wait a minute, damn it. My ice cubes have converted from the earth principle to the water principle. How am I going to have another scotch on the rocks…? Damn! Then again, I suppose I don't really need another scotch on the rocks because this evening's inquest is over with. The one thing my life is lacking at the moment is ice. Why wasn't ice on the MIT list? What's wrong with those people?

Well . . . so what if I'm no more than a bit of flotsam? Don't bother to cast a lifeline in my direction. I'm bobbing along just fine. Tomorrow is another day. I'll get more ice then.

Goodnight, Mr. Flood.

McFinn is from Chicago and currently resides in Cambodia. He has a degree in Philosophy from Georgetown University. Much of his work should be considered humorous and fictionalized memoirs. There are also satirical essays. Location settings include Thailand, Cambodia, India, Βurma, Morocco and Greece. Excerpts, reviews & purchase information are available via his website: http://www.morganmcfinn.com

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