On the porch the other day, I saw a hot-air balloon rising above the tree line about 300 yards out. It struck me as a playful bit of fun and made me realize that I had not done anything frivolous or impetuous in a long, long time...something outside a more or less 'responsible' lifestyle, some no-harm-no-foul activity that snatched my interest and made me smile. Something 'fun.'
So I stopped by the nearby municipal airport, asked about balloon rides, got a number and called Paul, a balloon captain who lives up in the hills. I don't really have the discretionary income for this sort of adventure. $250 per person for me and my younger son was outside what I was willing to pay, but Paul said he had a publicity flight going off next week and TV people never paid, so he would be happy to have some paying customers. We settled on $300 ... a figure that will make my fixed-income lifestyle whimper a bit, but ... well ... I wanted to ... and ... fuck it! A very tentative date is next Wednesday.
Maybe it will happen and maybe not. The weather and the schedule of the TV people and other factors may mean it never comes to pass. But even if it doesn't, it was nice to find something that whetted my appetite. At my age, there are all sorts of well-meaning people encouraging others to live a full and active and productive lifestyle without examining how good their do-good encouragements actually are. To my mind, these ersatz Florence Nightingales fall into the category of people who are content to be right without questioning what might be true. It's hardly a unique pastime, but it can be wearisome...so sincere, so socially-agreed-upon, so credible, and, in the end, so selfish.
I asked Paul whether the balloon would go high enough so I could "listen to the silence" and he assured me it would. Although his flights generally do nap-of-the-earth excursions, Paul said he had been as high as 10,000 feet and at 5,000 or even less, noises were stilled. Strange to think that I have paid good money to go the Zen centers where people sit still and straight and silent and now am willing to pay good money to be lifted into the silence when all the time the silence informs every scream and whisper of life. It's ironic, but I think I would argue that slowing down long enough to attend on our very own ironies is worth the price of admission. Silence isn't somehow 'better' or more 'virtuous' and people who clamp themselves into a rigid silence are really quite noisy. But to touch base with one of the fundamentals of a sensible life, to round things out ... isn't that useful? I think it is.
Up, up, and away! I would love to go on a balloon ride, partly for some serious fun and partly for the sheer hell of it. Maybe it will come to pass. Maybe it won't.
That's the way it is with fun stuff.
Maybe I will get to see the ocean one last time as well.