Thursday, July 8, 2010
If there is one thing about getting older for me which is magnificent, it is the lens which it gives me through which I observe my life.
My daughter, May put it so wisely and so well when she said this:
I walk and I am so aware that one day I will not be able to walk anymore. One day, without knowing it, I will have my last slice of cake. One day I will make love for the last time. One day I will kiss a baby and then never kiss a baby again. One day I will sit down and I will never get up. I hope that day is the day I die, but death or no that day will come.
That is the perfect truth and May is wise beyond her years.
I think about this all the time now and perhaps that is what you do when mortality is, if not breathing down your neck, then at least playing a gig at the bar down the road. I am not that old. Fifty-five, soon to be fifty-six, and perhaps I will live to be a hundred or perhaps only until fifty-eight. Who knows? Not me and not you but certainly, I know I will not live forever.
That is the way of life. There is a birth, a blooming, a fading, there is death. None of us can escape it and none of us is probably quite aware of the blooming days. I have said it before and I will say it again- I had no idea of how beautiful I was, how full of life, how incredibly lucky in my strength, my health, my abilities when I was young. It was all normal, those things, and I looked at pictures of myself then and rued the fact that I was not thinner or blonder or cooler or happier or smarter or whatever and now I look at the same pictures and sigh in disbelief.
But now I do not take anything for granted. Not my own body, my own experiences, my own self or life. Every day when I wake up I have to check myself for what hurts most, what feels okay, where my spirit is at, and what I have to do and with what resources I shall have to pull together to do it. Everything must be considered and every deficit has to be overcome and every goodness must be considered and studied and gratefulness must be offered for it. This is what age has taught me.
Here I am in this place in my life. Whichever place it is in the whole relative scheme of things, it is a place where I can be slow enough to notice. To be conscious enough for awareness. And because of that, each and every part of my day is important. Even the painful parts, even the parts I would rather avoid. They are all a part of this, which is the one and only life I have, and for that I have to cherish them in some way. And perhaps, that is why I am so obsessed about writing here and chronicling them. This is my journal, this is my photo album, this is my history and my poetry and my record and my book. This is it.
Just as I know, as May said, that one day I will eat my last slice of cake, one day I will make love for the last time, one day I will walk for the last time and that I do not know when those times will be, I also have been given this new grandson with whom I can experience first times. And that, THAT, is a miracle! It was a miracle when I experienced them with my own children and it is even more of a miracle this time because it is closer to the last for me. And because as I see the world through his eyes and actions, it is as if I were experiencing the very substantive concentrate of every first time, whether of my own of my own babies'.
I feel that I am not making myself as clear as I wish I could but I suppose that underneath it all, underneath every moment of this life of mine as it is now, there is the sure and bittersweet knowledge that the moments are limited. Just as we might save the last few bites of the pie or the last few berries of the season or the last few moments of a good night's sleep all the more because they are indeed the last, we learn, in older age, to savor every bit of goodness we can. And so when I watch my grandson fall asleep on his grandfather or when I make him laugh so hard that he falls over backwards on the bed, I feel quite certain that these are the things I will remember on my death bed.
I hope so.
Part of me wants to say that no matter what age you are, you should acknowledge and cherish even the most mundane of moments but you know what? We are humans and that is not even possible. But if you can- if you possibly can- try. Because it is not the huge moments of our lives which are the sweetest. It is the unexpected, the ones which arise out of nowhere, the giggle of the baby as you change her, the way the hand of the one you love feels on your hip, the line of poetry that knocks you into another consciousness, the way a glass of water tastes when you are so very thirsty. These are the moments which make up the links of the chain of our existence. They are like prayer beads, they are like rosary beads, they are like the stars in the night sky above us. They are the steps of the journey and really, the journey is all.
As I get older, I am loathe to try to be in charge of things, perhaps because I know the futility of that, perhaps because I know that every one and every thing has such a limited time here, from the oldest trees to the banana spiders on my porch which I should probably knock down but can't bring myself to do. I went out just now to take a picture of them and I saw something I'd never seen before which was the mating of the giant female and the tiny male. He pressed his body to hers and they were still for quite a while and then she shrugged him off and he moved away but not too far. Fifty-five years old and I had never seen spiders mating but now I have and if I hadn't wanted a picture to go along with my words here, I probably never would have seen it. And that amazes me!
Owen will be coming soon and who knows what I will see through his eyes today? I don't know but there will be something I will remember forever. But even now, when he is not here, I am so very aware of the breeze on this porch, the way the wind chime is rippling in it, the sound of the crickets, the way my body feels, cooling down after a good hard walk. I am taking note, I am grateful, I am thinking of the way my husband thanked me over and over again for learning to cook venison so well after last night's dinner of deer roast and potatoes and carrots. I am thinking of the way Owen's hand looked yesterday when he fell asleep, still a baby-starfish hand, spread out on my chest.
And those things- those simplest things- they bring tears to my eyes and I know that above all, it is love that I am experiencing. The love of the crickets for their song to the day, my love of the strength of my legs even now, the pleasure that I get from pleasing my husband whom I love, the love for the tiny boy who falls asleep in my arms.
So yes, these are my glory days. Not the days when I was most beautiful or most strong or most quick in my mind. These are, right now, because I see the glory in them most clearly.
And for that, I am grateful to be aging.
For that, I am glad to be alive.
There are still so many mysteries but I am not so worried about getting to the bottom of them. I allow the fact that the wind chime loves the breeze even though the breeze has no thought of that as it blows. I accept the fact that I am far from perfect. I know for a fact that this life of mine is no different or more special than anyone's on earth and yet, it is mine and mine alone.
And yours- it yours and yours alone. But you can share it. If you want. Just as you can share mine. If you want. And we are all richer for that.
More glory for these glory days of the simplest and most holy joys.