Thursday, December 6, 2012

platitudes and latitudes

This morning I was looking through Facebook postings. I read a note from an old fraternity brother who said he was on his way to the Albany airport journeying to Florida to visit with his grandchildren.  He commented that he was looking forward to seeing the kin and "catching some rays"--a phrase that dates all of us who remember the Kennedy administration.

I was reminded by his post of something I wrote when I first visited Florida "as an adult"--as opposed to the obligatory drive-through-the-night-during -spring-break college experience.  The "as an adult" visit at the wise age of 27 took place during my first spring break as a college professor.  I was living near Buffalo New York at the time in a small pretty town by Lake Erie called Fredonia.  Very pretty, but winters are cold. What passes for spring is still cold.  Can have snow in May cold.

I flew to Florida during spring break that year for some warmth.  One day during my week stay I found myself sitting by the pool, enjoying the sunshine, and musing happily about the 80 degree contrast between the 85 degree clime and what I had read was the concurrent degree total in Buffalo.  I wrote a note to my buddy Kenny during this reflection in which I included a silly poem remarking on the difference between the north and south, and happiness.  The poem included this verse:  "For mirth don't follow platitudes; just seek some lower latitudes."

Clever.  But inaccurate.  I enjoyed my stay in Florida and there is something special about a northerner getting out of a plane in West Palm Beach in January looking like a geek with a coat and hat, when the airport is buzzing with people who are barely clad.  It brings a smile to your kisser.  Yet mirth does not linger because of latitude.

The first line of what I thought was a very witty couplet, is accurate--"for mirth don't follow platitudes", it is the second line that is off target--unless the reference to seeking lower latitudes means searching for direction not by following your head, but acknowledging the wisdom of your heart.

My now travelling fraternity chum will enjoy the rays when he arrives in Florida, but what will make him kvell is holding onto his grandchildren and enjoying moments with his kin. Such mirth nourishes and lingers.

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