Et in Arcadia ego

Our lives are filled with meetings and departures. Finding the time to reconnect with the important people is never as easy as it should be; we never have the time to do the things we must in the topsy-turvy world of the modern. Whenever I come home, however, I always attempt to meet up with the man who enlightened my mind to the world around me, Reg Porter. Without Reg I would never have found the outlandish courage to seek brave new worlds and risk having my little pudgies slapped by Life repeatedly.  Porter was my most influential mentor and remains a brilliant mind who appreciates the beauty found in objects others see nothing in. Porter taught me five courses from my Art History minor in university, but really his influence was foundational in terms of aesthetics, travel, photography, literature, food and teaching as a career. His advice was always sought for, and even when not given, spoke volumes to me.

V. and I were ever so lucky to finally meet up with Reg on New Year’s Eve. We brought along a suitable braised beef in red wine with carrots, and a platter of prosciutto with parmesan from Italy. After a fine bottle of Barbersco and another of Amarone wine, we settled to discuss the world, our lives and learning. The night was truly special; the type of evening one’s soul craves for more often.

V. and Reg connected on their passion for biology, and I merely relaxed and listened, remembering the many, many such evenings I have been so lucky to have enjoyed with Porter over the past 18 years. With four cats on the go and many exciting topics to discuss, five hours passed like minutes, and then we had to take our leave.

Porter explained his current love of antique microscopes, and I took advantage of the time to reflect on what I love about well-made cameras and books; why have humans become so easy to please with cheap plastics and digital media when the value of a library is palpable in a way that Kindle/Kobo downloads never will be. Convenience and space, I suppose, dictate our choices.

Regardless, the glory of seeing Porter’s antique Victorian slides mounted with the most glorious papers and designs left me speechless. Nothing we do today has such meticulous details impressed upon them, and yet we feel superior to the artisans of yesteryear. Do not misunderstand me – our lives have a comfort and value that was not available to our ancestors – we simply choose overabundance in lieu of quality and beauty. Enter any Wal-Mart or Sears and you will see what cheap products abound to clutter our lives and living quarters.

Upon reflection, when I moved into the Tip Top Lofts studio I abandoned the “Porter-style” of antiquity in favour of a post-modern, digital/analogue feel. I did this because I needed separation from a painful part of my past and to start from ground zero. With every new plateau we often must adapt our surroundings to reflect our minds, and I enjoy the clarity that a Zen style provides. Still, the comfort and depth that both V. and I found within the Porter residence made me long for the older house with many rooms, a garden of classic proportions and a library where we could read into the world’s final days. Et in Arcadia ego…or at least I want to be.

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