Three songs are included: "Am I Losing You," Coco Montoya (1995); "Missing You," Pine Hill Project (2015); "You Don't Know What You've Got," Ral Donner (1961).
Looking first in the front closet, on the upper shelf, in the plastic basket that holds my hats and scarves, I can't find the scarf. Over the years I've accumulated hats and scarves so I look carefully, but I'm not seeing it.
I widen my search to other parts of the house. In a room I optimistically think of as my study, I notice my favorite childhood book, Mr. Dog: The Dog Who Belonged to Himself, by Margaret Wise Brown. Mr. Dog –– full name, Crispin's Crispian –– would have known exactly where his scarf was, because he lived an orderly life with each thing in its place:
Crispin's Crispian was a conservative. He liked
everything at the right time ––
dinner at dinner time,
lunch at lunchtime,
breakfast in time for breakfast,
and sunrise at sunrise,
and sunset at sunset.
And at bedtime ––
At bedtime, he liked everything in its own place ––
the cup in the saucer,
the chair under the table,
the stars in the heavens,
the moon in the sky,
and himself in his own little bed.
(Margaret Wise Brown, Mr. Dog: The Dog Who Belonged to Himself, a Little Golden Book , unnumbered page)
|Mr. Dog in the morning|
But hold on, is Mr. Dog really a "conservative"? Say it isn't so, Margaret Wise Brown. I do cherish Mr. Dog, but "conservative" is an identifier I recoil from, even while I understand the need for order, routines, schedules, laws, the general preservation of what works to meet the day and live among others –– like sensible shoes, coherent sentences, not fondling supermarket fruits.
|Returning from the butcher shop|
Mr. Dog himself, when engaged in a task, is not half-conscious, nor wearing robe and slippers. He dresses for the occasion. True, his attire is spare but it suits his setting –– when in the kitchen, an apron; when out and about, a straw hat, red bow tie, and accessory pipe.
Thinking on this, I see how Margaret Wise Brown's definition of "conservative" makes sense and is one I can live with, indeed must live with if I am to successfully trim my mustache or go through airport security. This is not the imbecilic conservatism of the 2016 Republican presidential follies. It's more that sometimes we need to attend to our surround and to certain boundaries, whereas other times we can sink into that surround and shade boundaries. Sometimes we focus so as to steer the ship, other times we drift away in our bunks. How tightly packaged versus dreamy-associative we are depends very much on context and societal cues.
(See Nightscapes 1, an essay on how we see things and express ourselves –– an essay organized around Gregory Bateson's dialectic of rigor/imagination and its guises: conservative/liberal, rigid/elastic, literal/figurative, technical/aesthetic, logical/emotional, letter/spirit, orthodox/unorthodox, prosaic/poetic, adult/childlike, consensus reality/subjective reality, etc. Too rigid an orientation yields the party line; say, the peremptory rejection by Congress of Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee. Too elastic an orientation yields a lack of core structure, witness Donald Trump's Gumby-like policy shifts. Ideally, we enjoy the flexibility of "binocular vision." We blend familiar, codified ways of seeing –– our default settings –– with a receptivity to novel alternatives.)
Readers, before we resolve this suspense, I've a worthwhile historical digression.
Crispin's Crispian, an interesting name, isn't it? It evokes Saint Crispin's Day, especially the Shakespearian reference to that day in Henry V –– when on Friday, October 25, 1415, the real Henry V defeated the French at Agincourt. In Shakespeare's telling, "King Harry" gives a stirring speech before the battle, ending with:
This story shall the good man teach his son,
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world
But we in it shall be remember'd,
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition.
And gentlemen in England now abed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
(Henry V: Act 4, Scene 3, ll. 56 - 67 [c. 1599], in William
Shakespeare: The Complete Works, Oxford University Press, 1991)
The speech is famous, and anchored in history:
- There is a St. Crispin's Day, which honors Saints Crispin and Crispinian, brothers who were martyred in the third century. Cobblers, and possibly twins, they became after martyrdom the patron saints of shoe-makers and leather workers.
- There was a Battle of Agincourt, a pivotal battle midway during the Hundred Years War between England and France, and apparently won through successful use of the longbow by Anglo-Welsh archers.
- King Henry V did give a pre-battle speech, which Shakespeare fictionally rendered and ennobled to great effect.
And guess what? I found it!
It was in the front closet, on the upper shelf, in the plastic basket where I keep my hats and scarves, the one next to my wife's basket of hats and scarves.
The better news is that I reconnected with more than a scarf. It is a truism, but there is nothing like loss of something dear to spark awareness of its history and meaning. "You don't know what you've got until you lose it," sang Ral Donner in 1961. For the brief time in which I couldn't find my qiviut, I appreciated it keenly, thought of its nature, valued its wifely origin.