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Fiddling

By some curious fluke of my internal clock, I was up before dawn. Indeed, I was up so well before dawn that I had plenty of time to fiddle around (my favourite pastime). I fiddled with the mate, then I fiddled with the camera, then I fiddled with the tripod and eventually I fiddled with some pre-dawn photos from the balcony. Indeed I got so wrapped up in fiddling that when the bright orange arc of the sun broke the watery horizon of the Rio de la Plata, I glared at it as if it were an interloper: I had to stop doing what I was doing and take pictures of the rosy prima donna. (Of course, I was soon overtaken by the splendour of it all and forgave the sun its impertinence.)

I am a fiddler. I am never more at ease than when fiddling. I can entertain myself days on end this way and not miss a soul. I am self-contained when fiddling, so much so that interruptions (like the sun’s) are resented. I am not exactly a misanthrope and many people actually think I am gregarious, but in my heart of hearts, I am a lone fiddler.

The things I fiddle with have been different at different periods in my life. At one point they were books (I would browse them not read them in my father’s study); at another point, it was woodworking and I would make furniture and later a couple of houses on wooded hills; at another point it was wheeled objects with internal-combustion engines (motorcycles and trucks) though my relationship with them was never as fluid as it would be with computers and cameras. I had a horse period and a gun period, but they were brief interludes of curiosity rather than true passions, I realize now. I tried them on for size, but found they did not fit.

There is great beauty in fiddling, in the paying of obscene amounts of attention to inconsequential matters. When I am fiddling, I am overtaken by a great calm, as if the world were reduced to a perfectly mitered joint or the understanding of how to properly illuminate a portrait. At those moments, it is as if nothing else matters except the attainment of that one objective.

Indeed, I am not certain that anything matters more. It may very well be that what is important is the perfect execution of minor acts, no matter how insignificant. It seems to me that what matters is the importance one gives to one’s actions not the importance of the actions themselves. How many people do you know who profess their desire to save the world yet mistreat the person next to them? Isn’t it better to have less lofty goals but at least live by them?

So this morning I happily fiddled while the sun rose on what seemed to me a slighty more perfect world.

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