I\’m sitting cross-legged on goose-shit covered grass under a tree by Lake Washington in Lakeview by Seward Park. The skies are blue, save for a few wispy cirrus clouds. I am surrounded by families. There are a few ducks and ducklings floating in the lake by the shore. There are speedboats and paddleboards. The air has that funky lake smell. My motorcycle is parked within sight on a residential street 50 meters behind me.
A duck has waddled within five feet of me. It\’s walking towards an older middle aged couple eating, hoping for food. She has denied its request for food, but her partner in a fedora and goatee is obliging the duck. The duck is almost touching the man\’s foot.
Nine geese have come ashore ten meters away. They are gaggling, intermittently pecking at the ground, lacking any sense of urgency, caring only not to stray too far from each other.
Earlier I was in Bellevue, at the park in the city center, lounging in a hammock. I wrote a few paragraphs and read a little bit of Camus\’ The Rebel.
I have recently realized that what I am doing now is a type of leisure that I had once aspired to. It wasn\’t long ago that this is what I wanted to do—meaningful nothingness. I think the only thing that I would wish to change is to open the gyms and the cafes again; but that would mean forgoing my more than generous unemployment benefits, so I\’ll avoid complaining.
My current leisure comes with a sense of guilt. This is because I know that my pleasure is built on top of someone else\’s work. This is okay from a big picture perspective: utility is being maximized.
What is the point of work if not to spend time enjoying ourselves meaningfully? Unfortunately, in my case, the person who is working is not the same person who is enjoying leisure. This has often been the case; historically it was the aristocracy. This time, it happens to be me, and my purchases, especially those at small businesses are good for the global economy. Moreover, this is only temporary; I won\’t die a rich duke. The worst that could happen is that I slip into complacency.
My sense of guilt comes from a narrow perspective: I am not working, so why should I deserve the fruits of the labor of others? Others are suffering, and I am enjoying myself. How can that be right? Therefor I should make an effort to not be/look so happy.
No, that doesn\’t seem right. I believe this feeling of guilt of guilt has something important to show me.
Don\’t brag. That\’s what it says: Don\’t brag, because if you do, that will be your reward; you shall forego your sense of leisure, and it will be replaced with a mere spectacle.
There is something mystical about this. It reminds me of a line that I have previously quoted from the Tao Te Ching:
The work is done, but how no one can see;
\’Tis this that makes the power not cease to be.
Additionally, while I was packing boxes, I read a diary entry from late 2014. My quasi-Jungian fantasies were concerned with \”secrets\”. —And I have always been bad about not keeping my damn mouth shut. Somehow I feel like I must always open my mouth and destroy something subtle with language. It\’s easy to kill the vibe (like a good, sophisticated mood) with words—especially self-conscious words.
Sophistication is something that I have not thought much about lately, but I think it is something that I have been living. I think that sophistication is one of my guiding principles, one of my more developed virtues.
If I were to die today, my ghost would regret not having written all I have to write about sophistication. It might be one of my tasks to do here on Earth. No one seems to have gotten it right quite yet.
Random thought: in relation to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Sophistication is the virtue by which we perceive Quality or excellence (ἀρετή), especially where the material and social world intersect: food, drink, clothes, and machines, but also art.