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Saturday, August 11, 2007

On Growing Old

I just don’t know why we don’t number our years backwards from that golden age when we will sit around in dressing gowns, drinking V8s, and watching wheel of fortune on slow days, but up and bridge-clubbing it and square-dancing on fast days. Instead, we count the years as they pass and that leaves us quite aware of that ever-growing, irreconcilable distance between the year of our pink-skied dawn of a beginning, and our ever drifting, gray and envious present age. Therefore, since last Thursday, I announce to my entire readership that I am the still tender age of –37. Thirty seven more years of the clamor upstream; 37 more years of boundless opportunities…of horizon chasing. There’s a lot of life in 37 years. It takes half that amount for a newborn to become an individual; I have double that amount to actualize the dreams that were placed within me. And after 37 years what then?…it’s the garden hammock and the sigh of repose, the thankful prayer in between sips of sweet tea, the ability to wear and say anything and it be funny or wise….and snowbirding it in Jamaica, RVs, and the laughter of grandchildren.

Inappropriately and altogether unwise, we count the years from which we first sailed from the port, not from when we hope to stand on the deck below twilight, being content with our voyage. In every possible facet we should be looking ahead not backwards. Counting the limitless possibilities, not the unchangeable stone-set past.

It also seems as though we are trying, as we step further and further into maturity, to grasp more and more of our youth. Age is a funny thing. It is the irony of the rattler and the walking stick. We spend all our childhood wishing we were adults. We spend all our adulthood wishing we were children again. No era in history is quite like ours. We are the most advanced and self-reliant in our knowledgeable maturity, but it is the whims of the child that governs the styles, the economy, the entertainment, the face of the earth with the dreams of the heavens.

The more we advance from the cradle, the more we long to hear its nursery song again. Its twinkling and turning have all got us mesmerized. The dusk-like shadows fall across the living room floor, we pause before the nonnegotiable Night, hoping to hear one last tune of that nursery song.

And in that song and in that tune, before us stretches the inner workings of our leisure and joy which is with us during the opening and closing of our one day. –For these are our joys and our happiness. The intellectual elite sits upright in hard chairs and hears it in Mozart; the common crowd hears it in the clashing of football helmets; the popular reader hears it in the bustle of a Hogswarts school; the classical reader hears it in the ocean’ roar as it flicks Odysseus through the world. The nature lover hears it in the wild winds and streams; the metropolitan in the heartbeat of the city on an ecstatic night. An old man hears it in the creaking of boards as his grandchildren dance about the room; a young man hears it in his friends’ boisterous laughter of rollicking good times. An old woman hears it in the murmur of songbirds; the young woman in the chiming of wedding bells. The lovers hear it best, and for a brief moment tunes all other sounds out. The solitary man hears it and carries it with him wherever he goes. Again and again, the fugue, the tempo, and melody charm our days and nights and we forgot that we had once heard it in our cradles. Our lives could be of perpetual bliss if we could just remember.

But I digress….I have quite a ways to go, I feel not a lick older. A bit more foolish, possibly, but a pinch more secure in that foolishness. And still young, and free. I’m still carded the few times I order a drink. And I still have much, much to do before I can be content with my life. If there was a way to work one’s way out of the habit of laziness. I would....


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