We were in Madison over the weekend for a long-planned visit with friends. It was a nice change of pace, staying around the square and going most everywhere on foot for several days. The seven of us hit the farmers’ market on Saturday and consumed an array of delicious meals, including a picnic dinner on the grounds of the American Players Theatre on Sunday evening, where the beauty of the setting and the joy of being with people I’m fond of contributed as much to my pleasure as the elements of the meal.
I was certainly ready for a getaway. Lately, a string of household accidents and practical obligations have eaten into my normal routines, so that, by the time I got in the car to take off, I was hardly myself. My head was full of problems having to do with damaged floors and roofs, broken elevators, and the disappearance of two formerly reliable laundry machines. St Augustine’s dictum, “Keep your mind on ultimate things,” has lately been more difficult to live by. It’s tough to ride out property damage that destroys an orderly home. Yet this sort of claim, though it mustn’t be shirked, is a nuisance not to be confused with suffering or genuine harm. Life is about life–the company of friends, the spectacle of society: precious consolations in a time of material loss.