I remember at my first boarding school being told by our Cornish head of house that if we ever were to dare to place our shoes on furniture, she would take our shooed feet and stamp them all over her garments, and then have us pay to have her clothes cleaned.
Such experiences may be indicative of a serious inclination - which of course is a great deception, because merely carrying the responsibility of cause and consequence does not mean that one is always sensitive enough to friends. When we relax, we might sometimes accidentally put our feet on the furniture of a friendship.
And in that same park with the youths were bushy trees that chirped for the preposterously large numbers of sparrows that would dart in among its branches, causing them to shake. Carefree, intrepid sparrows. One came into my home once just to fetch a few grains of wheat. I have a friend who is like that: mentioning a dramatic family tale as nothing more than an aside to why it was that he had to organise his day other than expected. His grain of wheat was his day, the drama required no further comment.
What I wish I had been told as a child is that life is a mixed bag. I continued back home, via side streets, where such an artistic little bushel of weed sprouted from an abandoned aged house, foreground to a blasé series of low rises.
In fact, I noticed today more than ever at how many buildings have had their facades peeled off: with, say, only cornices still in place, cornices of entablatures of no-longer visible bas-relief columns. Buildings revealing the bare bricks, except for the still visible corners reminiscent of bad sunburn. Yet, among it all was that single weed bushel like a promised sign - and the cached garden of clay pots and roses, making of one peeling house an enchantment.
Were it not for the death notices on the next few buildings. There is a very old word, farrago, that was used to describe a mixture of wheat - like the sparrows eat, meal, grits. It means confused miscellany, the mixed bag. Surely the measure of difficulty is to be held up against the measure of good for the latter to stand out, like deep tan vs. hot pink. But it has to happen - the problems, whatever drama. Some days we struggle with others, some days we struggle against ourselves. It is hard to shine, but easy to understand in principle. Ovid writes, video meliora, proboque, deteriora sequor: I see better things, and approve, but I follow worse. Why is it that our weaknesses do not make us more forgiving of others?
We may be wont to whine over misfortune, but it is occurring to me just how much of a fallacy it is to be moved by appearances of things. Epictetus writes, it is never what happens to us that is the problem, but what our opinion is of the events. If it looks bad, it does not necessarily have to spell a tragic end in our hearts. We can wait it out, use the difficulty as fortitude. For the discerning eye, there is never a mixed bag: things may be returned to their places if one knows how to call things for what they really are. Test. Transition. Lesson. Walk-in-training.
There are people who obscure such things for themselves and so for others. They are the ones who are confused, complaining about unemployment, yet not willing to break a sweat, especially not over the little things, the little details where the precise formula of the farrago may be found. Where there is difficulty, there is also good. The good is everywhere at all times. There's nothing jumbled about that.