Saturday, November 27, 2010

Remember When?

“Be of this brightness dazed

Whose unrecking fever

Flings gold before it goes

Into voids finally

That have no measure.

Bird-sleep, moonset,

Island after island,

Be of their hush

On this tide that balance

A time, for a time.

Islands are not forever,

Nor this light again,

Tide-set, brief summer,

Be of their secret

That fears no other.”

W.S. Merwin

The First Four Books of Poems, 1952

We, who view the “summer” of our lives with deep nostalgia and regret, who are over-the-hill in statistical terms, and know it. We, who at that long-gone summertime of life, when the world was our oyster and we were convinced that all the pearls of great price were there for us, just waiting for our eager fingers to grab them so we could live happily ever after.

What happened to that summer? Who is that old, wrinkled person who now stares back at us in the mirror? To some of us, that moment in time comes as a great shock. Why, only yesterday we had that wonderful job, the promising career that stretched out before us, advancement upon advancement, waiting for us just around the next corner. That young, beautiful or handsome life’s partner, with the dimples and bright smile, those seductive eyes only seeing us, their one and only, their perfect love?

Where is it all now, where has it all gone? Who was I then, who am I now? What reality is there left for me now, when my steps falter in the slow slog toward my failed happiness? Why can my poor eyes with their drooping lids no longer see the beauty and promise of my lifetime love and my poor, threadbare hopes?

This, my friend, is what aging is all about. This is what we, when of a certain age, are finally forced to face up to; in the bathroom mirror, in the puzzled eyes of our grandchildren, in the shy looks of our equally puzzled friends. Where were we when all those years passed and when we somehow weren’t aware of the passing?

So, what can we do about it now, after we finished reading all of the self-help columns and books and listening to the lectures of younger friends and experts? What can we do now to really, truly help ourselves when we sit in this muddy pool of sudden self-awareness as the real truth of our life gazes back at us from our too-truthful mirror?

Are you ready for the answer? Why not? What have you got to lose? Lets explore our final future, our next day, month, the few years left on this planet. Beginning now, stop squandering any more of these precious moments you have left in denial and self-delusion. Start to re-create yourself and begin to construct the new, refreshed last days that you have, in really living.

How can we exchange the old-fashioned way of being old and has-beens into something new, revolutionary, a self-fulfilling prophecy of hope and revitalization in our minds, relationships and bodies, which can regenerate itself into a new kind of aging of our old age?

In the following weeks and months, I suggest that we try to go beyond all the old self-help information out there and formulate real self-help concepts which will fit our own years, our own life-styles with new, improved ways that may help us finish the last drops of precious life we still have left – all the way to the very end.

I can’t do it for you. I can only try to figure it out for myself in my own mind, body and circumstance. But maybe as I do my work, you can adapt what I am doing and you can do it for yourself.

Between us, maybe we can help each other. After all, what do we have to lose?

Richard E. Reed, Not Another Old Fart

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