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Last weekend a family friend, I’ll call her Robyn, was over for dinner with her two young boys. While the boys romped around the house then donned running shoes and moved their fun outdoors the three of us, my wife, Robyn and I sat around the kitchen and caught up.

At one point Robyn asked me what I had been up to the last four months or so and I responded, “you know, the usual.” Then I told her of the Omphalos Cafe, the blog at any rate.

“You have a blog?” she asked.

“Sure,” I said, amused at her surprise and in no way offended.

“What’s it about?” she then asked and I responded as I usually do, that is, vaguely. “I suppose you just have to read it.”

So I pulled out this little miracle gizmo I happen to be writing on this very instant and summoned up the Cafe for her.

What does one say when another is sitting in front of you reading a piece of your own work? Nothing, that’s what.

My wife and I went about putting together the evening meal.

Ok, you can only say nothing for so long, particularly when all around Robyn while she read was commotion and bustle. Definitely not the proper atmosphere in which to visit the Omphalos Cafe. I told her that.

“I guess what surprises me most,” she said, looking up from her reading, “is that you’d put yourself out there in this way.”

What she was getting at was my penchant for puttering around the kitchen or getting down on my hands and knees and playing with the kids–the younger the better–in fact doing just about anything rather than participate in the adult conversation during social occasions.

“Dave says whenever he’s over you greet him cheerily, get him a beer, and then disappear,” chuckled my wife on another occasion.

I forget exactly what I did say to Robyn’s query. No doubt I stammered and struggled and came up short of whatever mark I set myself.

“It all has to do with context,” I might have said, though I may just be imagining that after the case.

I mean, I’ve been listening to all the discussions, of politics, of environmental issues and abuses, of economic policy and the staggering excesses of the few, I’ve been listening to the commentary on American foreign and domestic incongruities (we here in Canada often tend to look more to the south than right here around us), I’ve listened to the ideas bandied back and forth, on books and movies and current affairs and relationships. We are an educated lot, our little circle of friends…. I’ve listened, but I have nothing to say.

Not there anyways. Here, in the Omphalos Cafe it’s an entirely different matter. “You see,” I think I might have said to Robyn last week, “context is everything. Everything we do and say is in context, but what I want, what I need, is a forum without context whatsoever.”

And what I might have added, though I didn’t, was context is everywhere, it’s insidious. To “think outside the box” is a modern day mantra. But what do you do when everywhere you look, even outside the box, is box?

Ruminating over the conversation later I tapped out:

Keeping one’s eye on what counts, and I am reminded of the film Straight, No Chaser, and the scene when Thelonius Monk, off in his own musical world of the jazzy soul, whirls away from the airline counter where his wife was checking in.

The artist lost in his own thoughts and visions, twirling away like some object in space careening out of orbit. Intent on something not visible to the eye of his fellow men or women, and yet listening with all his being so as to maybe–if his or her strength be adequate to the task–give form to it so as to bring it into the light of day for those fellow men and women.

And then a day or two later I read:

“He [the Artist] is the eternal sage, who has the hardihood, amid fools and weak men, to transpose all the exterior forces into a personal form that is a new world, articulated from one end to the other, in which all men of his time should recognize each other and in which a few men of all times should do the same.” And:

“It is in fact impossible for him [the Artist] not to bear witness to that which has constituted the capital spiritual event of his time and his species, one that neither his time nor his species seems to have perceived.”–Elie Faure, The Spirit Of The Forms.

Wow, time I leave this post. It’s grown long enough.

And the context?

Life is ALL there is!