A Late-Life Trifold Pursuit

Until now I have concentrated on the first two of the so-called “Dowagers of Philosophy”, to wit, Truth and Goodness. Of late Beauty in the eye of this beholder, “in a fine frenzy rolling”, is making a belated claim.
Since my life has entered “the sere, the yellow leaf” and forfending “the winter of our discontent” and although it is undoubtedly too late to “gather ye rosebuds while you may” since “Old Time is still a-flying,” one must avoid an unnecessary situation of “cabined, cribbed, confined, bound into saucy doubts.” My solution is European travel with whomever of our adult children (and their families) is able and willing to take me along to places we mutually agree that we want to see and/or see again.

However, being the senior member of my family, “The Old Geezer” (and sometimes “Der Alter Knabe”), as I am affectionately known, I needed to establish some discipline among the young whippersnappers. Otherwise they would be all over the place. I informed them that I was always willing to consider Munich, Vienna, and London. Additionally, I might be talked into Paris, Budapest, Prague, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Milan, Florence with other destinations to be determined and allowed. Nevertheless, since geography is not the chief determinant of travel, each child must continually check the internet to see where in the world and how many of the following requirements can be met.

The first is great painting. I have long been frustrated by my poor visual memory and immensely envious of the immense learning of art historians. Still, I greatly admire the art I call great. The worlds represented in colors on a flat surface are magically beautiful. I will go a long way to stand in front of any painting by Peter Paul Rubens and delight to know who else is hanging out with him.

With great painting, you must be there to see it.

The second is great music. Never having been any kind of musician, I cannot explain why there is a song in my heart. Some kinds of music I can happily leave alone, but some–mostly Mozart–I must take. The worlds represented by flowing and disappearing sound are magically beautiful. I note that at the top of my musical scales is opera. I will go almost anywhere to join the audience for The Magic Flute, La Boheme, and Madame Butterfly. My second tier is expanding and now includes Cosi, Figaro, Aida, Fledermaus, and Don Giovanni.

With great opera, you have to be there to see and hear it.

The third is great Willy. The genius of William Shakespeare with our common language is beyond praise. As a tribute and amusement, from the beginning of my career, I have tried to smuggle in a small citation of one of Shakespeare’s lines in every sermon as a challenge for better educated congregants to identify. They have to listen on two levels. What directors and actors can do with four hundred year old words is magically beautiful. Still, I admit to you, dear reader, I prefer the comedies starting with Midsummer Night’s Dream.

With great Willy, you have to be there to see and hear those words come trippingly on the tongue because Shakespeare plays better on the stage than the page.

Not being an English literature major, I thought I could take serious instruction in Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton for the pure joy unalloyed. Moreover, as the one philosophy major in the senior college level Shakespeare class, I assumed I was safe from performance expectations. However, as the only male member of the class who could speak a little French, I was ordered to play the courtship scene from Henry the Fifth opposite a scary, hot babe. Granted that was 60 years ago and Nancy may not now be as hot or scary as she was then. Still, I hope very soon to quit being embarrassed by my performance that day.

Must go now. I hear the Bard of Avon calling.

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