Sunday, January 11, 2009

The right timing for something special

You all have one, I'm sure: something that you put away for a special occasion - but you're never quite sure when the occasion is special enough to bring it out and use it.

So it is with new fancy notepaper, a luxury perfume, that ball of wool that was handed down to you from your grandmother, handspun by her as a young woman.

Apparently, everything has a season, and a season is appointed for everything under the sun. The challenge is reading the season. Or maybe it's reading the object and trying to work out which season it is.

When is the season right - when is it special enough - for the lavish act of using something special that will not be replaced? And when you use it, will its use in fact be lavish? Or is it to be savoured, drawn out, lingered over? Is the joy of the moment to squander it lavishly, revelling in the luxury, or to delay, to mete out steadily?

Our wine rack has accumulated a few 'special moments' over the years. We recently opened a bottle of wine that we were given to enjoy for our fifth wedding anniversary. We have had this bottle since our wedding, and I'd been eyeing it off, waiting for the opportunity to share this 11 year old cabernet with my wife. The moment arrived: we popped the cork and ... it was corked.

So it goes. Sometimes the item is right - even the season is right - and then oxygen goes and gets in the way. Sometimes things can become so precious to us - their 'ideal day' so ideal - that their season is never realised, and they pass their peak into uselessness, or supersede our days and pass into the hands of another where they languish in obscurity.

Sometimes you take something precious in your hands, look at the company around you, realise that it may never get any closer to the ideal day than now, and then recklessly dive in.

But how we long for retrospective vision! We long to know if this is the moment. But we can never know. It is a 'gut' thing ... we hunt after a hunch ... and then we take the prize in our hands, and the 'moment' in the other, and we bring them together.

Perhaps we judge the moment of meeting to be a success if we remember the moment, the friends, the atmosphere, more than we do the thing itself.

I've never regretted opening my favourite cabernet, or using my favourite 'saved up' birthday card, for such an occasion. Sometimes the season is no longer an 'if only' or a 'maybe next year', it is now.

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