Fifty years ago this month I walked away from an academic career in economics and into the restaurant business. Several personal tragedies led to the decision most notably the death of my father, my sister and my brother all within a two year period. If ever Aeschylus’s words rang true, they rang true for me on that journey and still ring true to this day after yet another annus horribilis.
Wisdom comes through suffering.
Trouble, with its memories of pain,
Drips in our hearts as we try to sleep,
So men against their will
Learn to practice moderation.
Favours come to us from gods.
It was at the Sea Gull Restaurant where I encountered adulthood, made lifelong friends and memories. And, it was during those years that I discovered the truth of Aeschylus’s observation that wisdom comes through despair if you allow it. In the introduction to this blog I quoted a similar thought from Borges.
A writer, or any man, must believe that whatever happens to him is an instrument; everything has been given for an end. This is even stronger in the case of the artist. Everything that happens, including humiliations, embarrassments, misfortunes, all has been given like clay, like material for one’s art. One must accept it. For this reason I speak in a poem of the ancient food of heroes: humiliation, unhappiness, discord. Those things are given to us to transform so that we may make from the miserable circumstances of our lives things that are eternal, or aspire to be so.
On Blindness by Jorge Luis Borges
In a fit of conceit, I began working on a fictional account of my years at the Sea Gull only to be chastened once again by Aeschylus, that pain which cannot forget that falls drop by drop upon the heart. I put this work aside inadequate and unfinished as it was in the hope that I would return at some future time. So, I have this task for the year ahead and other unseen tasks to keep me blogging to what purpose I know not other than to amuse myself and perhaps others.
Some pictures from those Sea Gull years follow. The words, I trust, will come in due time. Happy Holidays!