Yesterday (March 6th) when I turned 75, I began meditating on my age all week while I wait for my wife to swim at Royal Military College. Our city pool is closed for renovation. We love RMC’s co-facility. I especially love all the soldiers and the young people who use the gym for athletic events. Saturday it was a highschool girl’s basketball tournament.
I never know what is going to happen as I sit in disabled parking. Yesterday it was a mass assembly for an award’s ceremony. Over a thousand soliders in fatigues, some with bagpipes, piccolos and french horns, and the brass in dress uniforms with all their medals walked by my car, stood and waited to cross the pedestrian bridge over Highway 2 to the hall.
I watched as two naval brass and an air force officer stood and talked outside the main doors of the facility. Every grunt that came out, saluted the brass and they saluted back. I would imagine their arms grew tired. But brass being brass, they probably enjoyed the adulation. I would have picked a more private place to talk if I was them.
Anyway, back to the meditation on my 75th. Today I opened my memory cards of Spinoza and other thinkers which I carry in my back pocket. Right in front was: “For the sole perfection and the final end of a slave and of a tool is this, that they fulfill the task imposed on them…thus also is it with man, so long as he is a part of nature, he must follow the laws of nature and this is divine service; and so long as he does this, it is well with him.” (Short Treatise on God, Man and His Well-Being, Shirley translation of Spinoza, Complete Works, p. 86
Spinoza always uses the word, ‘perfect,’ as fulfilling the ‘task’ we are given, not the more grandiose uses that word is often given. I think Spinoza used the ignomious words, ‘slave’ and ‘tool’ to show that being perfect is not the perjorative of the brass but every grunt that marches on in truth.
In this respect, as I meditated, I realised that the article I wrote with my wife on PTSD, these are fulfillments of the task nature’s energy imposed on me.
Anyway, as I told my wife, when I was young, I wanted to be a great golfer but I never developed the skill by working hard enough. I suspect what we are willing to work hard enough at, or our chief interest, is the ‘task’ energy gives us to do (unless we get waylaid in entropy).
The task energy gave me to do was to search for ideas on the meaning of life. In this search, energy detoured me out of academia into prison and gave me the priviledge of experiencing PTSD. Thus I found Spinoza, not as knowledge only but as understanding for the practice of the game of survival.
So I see my Spinoza article as my British Open, and the PTSD article as my US open. The other major golf tournaments are for brass and not grunts (i.e. elitist).