Friday, November 27, 2009


Here is the third in the series of surprisingly good things that have happened to me lately. I offer it having recently read about the positive mood effects of writing about intensely positive experiences.
You can learn about your life by viewing it from the inside, and you can learn even more viewing it through outside eyes. Photographers know this. The photos they produce capture so much more than the view they see in the viewfinder.
So it is with Ruth’s life. Her daily routines have engaged the interest of someone who, undaunted by a distance of several thousand miles, observes it with the research acumen an anthropologist might employ. And therefore, to the extent that our lives intersect with hers, our lives are also a topic of interest. Now and then we see the picture a little more clearly than before.
Take Wednesday, for example. We sit among thousands in the semi-darkened Jubilee Auditorium, Ruth, David and me. The incomparable Jan Ardon is commanding our conscious attention with her music and stage persona. Then Ruth, glancing sideways, triumphantly says something to her father, and leans across him to speak to me. Of her inquisitive friend, she says, “He asked where I would sit at a concert with you two. Would I sit in the middle? I said no. I wouldn’t sit in the middle. They’d want to hold hands.”
And there we are, outed, exposed. Thirty-six years we’ve been married—well, almost 36. Thirty-six years of behaving in certain ways. Nothing else to do but squeeze a little tighter and settle myself with the thought that we can’t be such bad parents if we have left our children with the predictable certainty that darkness, closeness and music will lead us to unconscious hand-holding.
Yet, on this emotional evening, buffeted by the bitter sadness of Jan’s lyrics, the biting hilarity of her humour, her enchantingly expressed affection for her family, my mind wanders back to past outings and it seems to me that the picture is a little bigger than this. I lean across David to speak to Ruth. I say, “But you know that if you did sit in the middle, we’d both end up holding your hands at some point.”
She says, “Yes, I know. I told him that too.”

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