Vol. 3, Issue 9, March 29, 2005
Education for the Otiose

Mirror, Mirror

Ezekiel F. Watley, Esq.

The body, as men of Science most convincingly Assert, is not unlike a Flower; exercise and Diligent Care are like water and Sunlight, without which even the Brightest and Halest of physiques must wither. And in this respect, bearing not a few Years of wear, I am careful to maintain a regimen of vigorous pre-prandial Promenades and the finest single-malt Scotch I can lay my hands on. In addition, my nephew Ephram obliges me periodically by essaying to Steal something valuable from my Office, providing me with opportunities for extremely rigorous Pursuits about the Office to reclaim my Property.

But if so much attention need be paid to the Body, how much Greater that needed for the oft-neglected Mind. For the seat of who I am, indeed, rests not in these frail physical Whiskers or properly brushed Waist-coat: I am a Brain, and the rest of me is a mere Appendix. Therefore, it is the Brain I must consider as well. Fortunately, nourishment to such an organ may come in Many forms; the hearty meat of an English novel, the Zestful sauce of the Agony columns in the Papers, the clear restorative Broth of a Haydn concert - not to mention the delights of Conversation with one's friends and peers (not unlike a fine Glenmorangie), and one's Employees (which in Ephram's case is not unlike a cheap Vodka and can be Headache-inducing if taken in large Doses). I am fortunate Indeed to have such a Smorgasbord before me, in my latter years, far richer Fare than I had to contemplate as a lawyer in my youth.

But just as not all Exertions of the Body are planned or welcomed, so too can the Mind come upon food for thought which is less than Palatable. The worst of this may easily be Avoided or simply dismissed, especially poorly-prepared fare: the philosophical equivalent of a Tripe sand-wich, such as can be found in the Lesser-respected papers, or one of the less Savory members of the Club when he is not in Prison. Yet sometimes such fare is not so poorly-prepared: a perfectly respectable Pink Gin with a surprisingly strong dash of Angostura bitters, perhaps. Such a well-crafted offering cannot be so readily Ignored.

Now, bitters are, to some, a Vital part of one's regimen, a sharp Reminder of the full palette in which we gravitate, by Custom and Preference, to but a small fraction of the whole. Every now and Then, a letter crosses my Desk or appears in the Editorial pages of other esteemed publications which serves such a Function. Upon finding such a thing, the mental palate Recoils: bartender, you cry, what on Earth were you thinking? But we must take the Bitter with the sweet.

Is such sharp Sustenance actually good for the Brain? - That depends upon the Care and Skill with which it is prepared. Any occasion to genuinely Reflect upon oneself, to look more Carefully at that bespectacled visage in the Mirror, is a valuable one. At times, I may find quite the three-pipe Problem to contemplate; at others, I may walk away from the Looking-glass essentially Unchanged, satisfied that there is naught (or at least not Much) amiss. Either way, I can only hope that I shall be the Better for it.

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