I put that sentence in its own paragraph because it is something I think I would do well to meditate upon.
This evening, I watched a video that was a practice of tension: a five-part interview between Ricky Gervais and Garry Shandling. The way Shandling comported himself reminded me of plenty of older "theatre people" I used to know; whether or not the association is valid, to my mind, that interview was an exercise of who could hold the presence in a room.
When the mores change, the signs and signals that enable one's presence to be held can also shift. But in that video, I saw moments of where the "old school" could hold its own, and moments when it was defeated by a resurgence of good will in the interlocutor.
I am interested in this because where I live, I sometimes encounter people from here who claim to be well-versed in one of the cultures from which I came. But I often find that they resemble nothing of the "crowd" I used to know: their manner is far more gruff, far more mainstream. When I was talking to a friend about that this evening, she imitated them, saying that while people around them wonder at their audacity, they - and here she used non-verbal gesticulation - push imaginary people aside, puff out and stroke their chests, in praise of what they've become: comfort, pleasure, opportunity - ease.
Probably because I am not intelligent enough, in the face of such impudence, I am unable, like Ruskin, to retreat to a Swiss abode in a huff at the lack of sophistication and moral awareness.
I was once educated in Switzerland, and do think it is a county conducive to ideals - so long as they are but thought, and written. But since the life decisions I have made make it impossible for me to now run to those alps and listen to the cow bells, I must develop a strategy to get along in life. Otherwise, I might quickly become a cantankerous soul, which is unseemly for my gender, and premature for my age.
My friend's advice was to "deal with such things with ease". What an art! I prefer to take things seriously, but to my horror, I realised that with people who huff and puff doors down, it is best to resort to emoticon-like responses. Nobody can tell me that there is a narrative that belongs only to children. I am ever further convinced that for so many adults, such a level of communication remains relevant - if masked in trendy signs and symbols.
Ease is to handle an opportunity in a way that will allow oneself to deflect it as soon as possible - while allowing one's door to remain cracked open. Whether we turn to babytalk or not, the essence of this situation is, as I see it: to remain calm and benevolent. In the final count, that is how I would like to be treated, and goodness knows, I deserve my time in the Dunce's cap. To take it easy is to keep things short, without mowing over audacity.