Friday Musings: Transcendence
Arriving at the idea behind today’s post has been something of a journey for me, but it’s one that I hadn’t realized that I’d embarked on until my thoughts suddenly became very familiar. I wanted to write about the way in which we take stock of our lives, and how we’ll know in the end whether we’ve fully been aware of life’s most important moments. What is the measure we should use? Since so much of our modern world is compiled on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, can we expect to find them documented there? Perhaps social media accounts offer some sort of record, in much the same way as photograph albums or scrapbooks did in the past, but none of these options can capture emotion. What is the method we employ then to give enough weight to a particular event that makes us say “that was the moment…” that changed my life? When we apply some set of rules, or we begin looking for the instance that’s going to have that kind of impact, we run the risk of choreographing our moments, or worse yet, manufacturing them, and thereby missing the ones that truly matter. Sometimes they’re much smaller than we think. It becomes a slippery slope.
The bigger question may be what makes us want to measure these moments in the first place? I think that it’s vital to us as human beings to have a way of transcending two things that place limits on us, even though they happen to be polar opposites of one another. The first is the idea of living a mundane existence that’s only comprised of the events of everyday life. The second is the concept of growing older and the realization of our own mortality. When we experience that truly big moment that stands in defiance of either of these two ideas, we suddenly feel as though we are pushing against our boundaries and living a fuller, richer life. The irony lies in the fact that if these limits were not in place, then our most profound moments would be rendered meaningless. In talking to my daughter Wendy about this post, she offered up a quote from Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace in which he turns tennis into a metaphor for human existence, describing it as “an essentially tragic enterprise… You seek to vanquish and transcend the limited self whose limits make the game possible in the first place. It is tragic and sad and chaotic and lovely. All life is the same, as citizens of the human State: the animating limits are within…” So without the limits placed on us by the boredom of everyday life and the fear of growing older and facing our own mortality, we’d never be able to experience the profound joy of something like falling deeply in love. These ideas exist in a codependent state, ironic partners in a waltz that cannot be danced alone.
In the end, living a full life in which important moments do not go unnoticed has nothing to do with choreography or documentation on social media. It involves being fully present, but with the realization of the passage of time and the limits that we need to push against in order to feel fully alive. We can’t force these moments or invent them, because the energy required to sustain the fantasy will exhaust us and cause us to lose who we truly are. When they are authentic, we can’t deny them, or attempt to avoid them, or suffocate them with logic or expectations, but rather we must embrace them and allow them to flow through us with the floodgates thrown fully open. Finally, we have to realize that these moments can be both large and small, and once we recognize them and accept the joy they bring, we will continue to seek their presence in our lives and they will suddenly appear in abundance. I wrote a post almost one year ago to the day that was called “What’s Your Measure?” At that time, I was excited and hopeful and 100% delusional. In keeping with the David Foster Wallace quote, I was forced to transcend my own limits and arrive on the other side with a wiser mind, an open heart, and the indisputable knowledge of all that truly mattered.
For today’s cocktail, I made some alterations to the drink that I made a year ago that was a variation of a PImm’s Cup made with gin. One of the ways that we can know that we’ve lived well is to know that we’ve loved with as much passion as is in our hearts. For me it will always be the only way. For this reason, I added Chambord to the drink because raspberries symbolize kindness and love, and the blood that flows freely through our hearts. I added a beet and ginger tonic to bring in a bitter, yet soothing element in terms of taste, but a little research told me that beets are actually an aphrodisiac, which totally worked in a more theoretical way! Lemon juice and simple syrup helped to round out the sweet and sour components of the cocktail. The end result was a drink that was weighty and complex, bitter and sweet, and beautiful to look at. I served it up in a fancy coupe and allowed it to transcend last year’s cocktail. Cheers everyone. Happy Friday! I wish you many great moments, large and small.
2 oz Bombay Sapphire gin
½ oz Pimm’s No. 1
¼ oz Chambord
½ oz Herbal Revolution Beet and Ginger Tonic #11
½ oz lemon juice
¼ oz simple syrup
Combine all the ingredients with ice in a shaker tin and shake until very cold. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with lemon peel that you’ve expressed over the drink. Enjoy!