I dreamed about Keith Richards last night and it was a strange, strange dream. Ever since Hank pointed out that Keith is my totem spirit animal, I have paid attention to the dreams I have about him and they do, indeed seem to come with a message and usually, it is either about youth (both misspent and gloriously lived) or aging, which makes perfect sense.
Last night's dream was about aging and I wonder if all of this anxiety from which I suffer does not have root in my fear of it.
Not death- let me make that perfectly clear. I have no qualms about the fact that one day I'll be gone and that the world will continue to spin just as it does and my life will have meant no more or less than any regular human being's life.
It's the whole dimming of the candle thing which aging brings. The whole set of problems not just for the one who is aging but for the family of that person. And yes, the pains and the difficulties and the possible suffering and who gets to opt out of those?
Well, the person who dies relatively young, who suffers the sudden heart attack, brain aneurysm, even fatal accident.
The rest of the species is pretty much destined to grow old and more feeble with each passing year although we would all love to think of ourselves as one of those small band of people who live hale and hearty lives up until a great age has been attained and then to die in sleep, simple snuffing of the light, one breath, then gone, peace.
I was talking to May yesterday about how when one is young, one thinks that by the age of sixty life will be settled, there will be a sense of wisdom, a knowledge perhaps, a knowing that most of the changes of life have been experienced and the rest will be a lovely walk on gentle roads.
However, that is absolutely false. Changes continue to come thick and fast and they are not always good changes. Don't get me wrong. Some of the changes are magnificent and there can be a growing appreciation of that which we have, of the simplest things in life. The knowledge that there is someone to love, to ask every morning, "How did you sleep?" which probably wouldn't occur to a thirty-year old to ask of their love. The changing of the seasons, the funny, dear, wise things grandchildren say and do, the pleasure of a good meal, of a good walk, of a house set to rights before bed, the lights turned out, the slipping into clean sheets, the vast comfort of rest.
But. The problems of life are still with us. The money, the housing, the health care, the decisions which take on more and more weight as aging must be factored in. How long will we live? How much money will we need? What sort of house would suit an elderly couple best? Are our affairs in order?
And how in this world would I manage without him to ask me how I slept last night?
These are not ridiculous things to ponder, even at the age of fifty-nine. These are realities.
And it doesn't help to have observed the passing of parents, of friends. The long years (in some cases) of the gradual and then suddenly swift decline. The depression and pain. The helplessness and hopelessness which so often seems to loom large in the very old especially in our culture and times where life can be prolonged but the question must be asked- to what end?
All of this is plenty enough to create a feeling of anxiety, especially for someone like me who has always worried overmuch about that which she cannot control, that which may or may not happen. And is it any wonder that I look at Keith Richards who somehow, miraculously, has survived to the age of seventy when at the age of twenty-seven few believed that he would ever see thirty and be somewhat reassured? To take joy in his joy that he can still do what he has always done, even as he so obviously grows older?
I read that B.B. King who is eighty-eight now and still performing is not doing well onstage. That his voice and his guitar playing have lost their sureness, that audiences are complaining that they are not getting their money's worth and it makes me so sad. We are so impatient with the elderly, with what we should really perceive as our honored elders. The man is eighty-eight and he puts on that suit every night and he takes the stage and he plays and he sings and perhaps he should just be at home, hanging out in his silk dressing gown, telling his tales to his grandchildren but he is not and why should we expect a man who has worked all of his life to accept that he can no longer do what gives his life meaning? If audiences want to see the B.B. King of yesteryear they should go to Youtube.
Well, I am rambling which is what old people do. And I am still capable of living this life that I have. And hopefully will be able to for many more years. But one can't take anything for granted and I certainly don't. Trash must still be taken and laundry done and chicken coops cleaned out and meals prepared and the body and soul and love and relationships attended to.
I guess at the end it's always all about love and I've just reminded myself of that. Love will see us through until we head to the light, in some way.
I've just watched this video which is of crap quality, visually, but the sound is very good and it made me cry. One of my favorite songs sung by one of my favorite people and even with inadequate camera work and focus, the love is unmistakable.