When it’s hard to say what I am concerned about, at least there is the starting point, that I am concerned. Concern being on my radar, as it were. Or being my radar, scanning for incoming. And it’s more than a starting point, this awareness of personal mood and focus. It is the place where things can unravel. Or ravel if such a word exists.
And speaking of Ravel, which we weren’t, some part of my being remains tuned into the Proms. Yes I’m freshly returned from London. But very much here at this moment, and wanting to believe in the higher aspirations, and for all of us. As for the actual Henry Wood Promenade Concerts, the whole shtick seems to have expanded. There are the chamber Lunchtime Proms, like the one Jane and I attended. As well as the Literary Proms, now very much in force on Radio 3. Where I learn all kinds of things.
Benjamin Britten in Escondido? What was he doing there, growing avocados? And on a more workman level, while it’s not surprising that he messed about with Auden…and that wasn’t what I meant…changing vowels and adjusting syllables and accents whenever he felt like it, well, I didn’t know this. I know it now. And what is to be said here? Not that I got a bit of info about adjusting words to music, but the way I got it. For BBC radio, being a world treasure along the lines of Venice, simply has the knack. For inviting us in, suggesting that we are all interested. And there’s no need to talk down or talk up. And instead of pacing in the conventional sense…and I am convinced of this…there is for want of better words, passion of the mind…. Yes, it’s a real enough thing. And it can carry the day. And carry us. And, by the way, it doesn’t cost all that much. Which is why the Proms don’t cost all that much. Turn up on the day and you can find yourself in the pit of the Albert Hall, for all of £5. Which is my idea of how the world should be. Always. And don’t argue.
Concern. I have several concerns about concern. First, that it is rather indiscriminate. I am concerned about far too much. Only moments before commencing this blog, I noticed something in Salon.com about moderate Islamists, and their push for a fatwa-free literature. And damned if I wasn’t halfway to reading the thing. When, I realized, no. My general feeling of concern had nothing to do with this article. Forget it. At least for now. For what concerns me is concern itself, to echo FDR.
For example, I easily get concerned about friends, family members, etc. And I’ve got to watch this codependent portable. There is a definite plus to having a world that includes others. But this can also be a distraction. An echo of my childhood losses, trying to make everything right, heal everyone, and so on. A distraction from my own lifelong reality – healing myself seems to take forever. In other words, concern is splendid. But it can drift too far afield.
Left alone, life will drift toward it, like a magnet. Which explains why the FedEx van pulling up outside my window was so full of good news. We had been discussing it, Jane and I. Or telling it, like a saga, a sort of suburban Norse legend.
That began with the forging of the metal. Then the firing and the refiring in the Ur furnaces of Black & Decker. For they were the makers of the toaster oven, where the grill that had supported countless slices of bread, frozen dinners and so on had been ripped from my hands. By Team Filipina Captain Lorna or my very wife, one cannot say. For neither of them is saying, but knows. Or more likely, both have forgotten, such was the speedily wrought clearing out of our kitchen prior to remodeling. Like the Ring, events set in motion, spilling across several stories. Leaving a hole in the collective soul, or at least in my lunch hours. Until growing out of that vacancy, much like the Big Bang, the dysfunctional toaster oven that could not make toast, being grill-less, that disabled appliance in all its definitional emptiness…gave birth, in a sort of way. For it has a sort of epochal quality to it, the missing grill. Black & Decker seems to stock such parts, even doing a roaring business in their replacement, judging by the prices. But not forever. Not longer than, say, a decade. Could my toaster oven be that old? The answer is embarrassing.
Which brings us to the great Forge. The mint where things of metal are stamped, set loose upon the land. Panasonic. Spiritual cousin of FedEx. The whole thing, cardboard-encased, now coming at me. I could see the van through my writer’s desk window. Jane, working on her weekly sermon upstairs, knew of it too. And I had backed away from my desk just as Jane had started down the stairs. Two minds focused on toasting, heating and baking within a new stainless steel box. She was openly enthused. I was covertly enthused. But enthused we were, together, anticipating what is a relatively small thing of life. A minor concern. Which is not to the point. For whatever concerns concerns.