I’m thinking of Xenon, how I’ve rarely seen him outside the hushed precinct of the Omphalos Cafe, and how there are times when I envy him his seclusion. Having a wife and son precludes such spirited removal from the daily round of mundane exigencies, the scrabbling after money, the push and shove of family life, the hundred–nay thousand–petty demands that crowd in on one’s time to the point of suffocation. It is Life, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, mind you. But all the same…. It’s as if I had one foot firmly planted in two different and–at times it seems–unreconcilable worlds.
How many times have I dropped by the Cafe troubled in spirit, due mainly to an utter absence of free time–some of us require more than others–only to find him quietly and ruminatively reading a volume in the back room, that Buddha-like smile brightening his features?
Part librarian, part scholar–albeit most definitely of an un-academic bent–part man of… but I won’t say God, for the term is much too restrictive, he sits there book in hand or putters around the shop with an unhurried, abstracted and yet fully focused air about him. He is where he is and no other place. Like an all-star athlete in the dead centre of the zone, the field or arena his collection of books that are less a collection of books than a convention of spiritual giants from ages past.
“They aren’t words on a page,” Xenon insists, “they’re voices. The distilled experience and vision of the great spirits throughout time.”
“Do I ever grow tired of them? Certainly not. On the contrary, it was the world I grew tired of many years ago now. Only, that’s not entirely true either. Other people’s world, I should say. With the help of these voices I discovered a world of my own. This world.”
“Solitude? Seclusion? Nothing can be further from the truth.”
And looking around him he adds: “These are my companions.”
I gather at some point in the past he opened his mouth and attempted to share with the world some of the insights he had gained through his studies. It hadn’t gone well.
No matter. He is where he is, and nowhere else. It is a good place, just as wherever we are can be a good place.