Sometimes in life, everything feels right. And I know that might make it seem like this is going to be an essay on a cliche. But please bear with me, because this is something I’ve thought deep and long about. Things occasionally, even regularly – but hardly constantly – seem to work like a dance: either slow-paced and intimate, like a waltz, or fast-paced and superficial, like a full-moon drug-crazed beach rave party. Or somewhere in-between. Either way, you’ll feel sort of at peace no matter actual external circumstances. You’ll know what’s going to happen next, strongly suspect, or else effortlessly react to and control unexpected eventualities. Things feel about that way for me right now, and in fact I never write unless they do. It’s similar, this sense of life rhythm, to when people say “everything is under control” – which usually simply means their or their subordinates’ tasks for the day are proceeding at an acceptable pace not likely to be upset by possible surprises. Of course “everything” is never actually under control, but when someone says that it means their life, and their various ties to it, feels controlled. One senses mastery of one’s world at such moments.
It’s my girlfriend’s birthday today. She’s in Sydney with her family, getting up to things such as climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge. And I’m housesitting her studio apartment overlooking a particularly picturesque vista of the southern Gold Coast. And my brother is away on a buck’s party weekend. So I’m luxuriating in my own company for the duration of the Australia Day long-weekend. I’ve got a mug of coffee by my side, Irished up with some Vat 69 Scotch whiskey. I’ve also got cigarettes, chocolate, chips, and an almost whole case of beer. It’s a pleasant afternoon, and the sun has all but descended beneath the horizon out of my view to the west, as I sit on the south-east facing balcony listening to bluesy, jazzy and funky beats on Double J digital radio. Even the local community, when I’ve ventured into its centre to attend to chores mainly relating to food and drink, feels peaceful and leisurely (mainly probably because most are off celebrating the end of summer holidays by getting drunk and scoffing sausages in caravan parks while fretting only about thunderstorms). Life, to indulge in cliche, is good.
That’s not to say things are perfect. My girlfriend is away for three days, and I love and miss her like nothing and no-one else. I enjoy spending time with my brother, and can’t help some concern for his safety while he parties in Surfers Paradise. I’m delaying dinner by writing. And the table I’m sitting at is a little rickety and needs a folded up piece of paper under one of its legs (which I probably won’t bother doing). But otherwise, this sense of rhythm I’m feeling in tune with right now is unperturbed by life’s constant small imperfections – as is crucial, because they are always there in whatever measure. The rhythm isn’t happiness. It isn’t contentedness. Nor relaxation nor inspiration nor satisfaction. Though each of those positive feelings and more might be felt concurrently. It operates independently and regardless of all other (even negative) emotion, seems rarer, but can in fact be more common; even constant, if not constantly comprehended. Its subtlety is such that only the introspection that comes with solitude can fully reveal its presence. In this sentence, added here after completion, I worry that I’m not doing a very good job of describing this feeling. But such doubt only strengthens my point, as only through consciousness of rhythm can the arguable futility of describing it be felt. It’s a conundrum, but one which fits nicely.
It can best be described in real terms as the opposite of paranoia – if such can be described as a consciousness of every possible but unlikely fear one may have. Rhythm, as I’ve defined it, can be seen as recognition of ultimate truth. Or truth above and beyond the idea that truth is a matter of perspective (which it can be, sometimes). To wit: I can look at a nearby roadway, right now, watch the cars cruising past and know that though their inhabitants have minimal, if any, impact on my life, what impact may exist is neither malevolent nor benevolent. The voices on one of the balconies above me mean me no harm, and if I was to pass their owners in the hallway, little but positive greetings from a hello to an invitation for friendly drinks would likely result. Others can tell when you’re feeling rhythm, even if they aren’t. Your own sense of rhythm can momentarily reflect onto and afford them relief from their wait for it to strike them first-hand. So they will smile, internally if not in fact, be glad for you and look forward to enjoying the same. All others you meet are your short-lived dance partner, when you’re feeling rhythm. They’re attracted to it, but likely won’t abuse it, and in such a state-of-mind you wouldn’t let them if they wanted to.
It can end at any time, too. At such times life goes back to normal. Life’s myriad tasks and interactions will once again be fulfilled still with rhythm, which is always present if varying in degrees of power, but with less or no consciousness of it. It’s a shame that this ever needs to happen to anyone. I’m reluctant to speculate why this happens. Perhaps it’s something that needs to recharge. Maybe it only reveals itself at moments truly necessary. It could be that the absence of rhythm or acknowledgement of it is really all part of a greater rhythm. It doesn’t matter. Conclusions aren’t necessary. In fact they’re unwise. Everything is in a constant state of flux. Things don’t happen for a reason. They happen because of a reason. Cause and effect, not spiritual pre-determination. This is why I so enjoy moments of conscious rhythm: I’m able to react to or control situations, even if they occur in almost complete solitude, in ways that ensure the best possible reaction from people and things around me. In this way – even though everything is and always will be a trade-off, as Sigmund Freud once observed in his book Civilisation and its Discontents – life feels bettered. And anyone who knows me will know that, apart from those with loved ones, I enjoy no interactions more fully than those with the written word. For me, there’s no more satisfying sense of rhythm.