Sunday, August 9, 2015


-- Be quick, the autumn leaves proclaim:
Do not ignore this endless spring.
Slow down to this small speed of light;
Do not surrender to this night.
 -- In the stillness of a clear, cool dawn, the sun shines through "The Tree of the Hanging Squirrels" across the street. In the light, the Japanese maple leaves are almost black and oh-so-still except that this morning, within that shadow box, there are small kerfuffles of movement and leaping, small places of gymnastics where the squirrels have reappeared after what feels like a too-long absence to munch on rosy shoots.

-- Because of vacations, I think, two small neighborhood gardens are, for the moment, untended. Doreen's flower garden shows signs of having its way. She has gone to Colorado to be with her husband, Mike, for a bit of a vacation in the neighborhood where Mike has set up shop for a while, working on weather satellites. They planned to see some natural wonders. The flower garden that Doreen says is as good as any anti-anxiety drug, is missing her insistent and nurturing hand. It needs a bit of a haircut.

Mack and Claudia also seem to be away. In their absence, the squash has risen up as squash will in warm months, its tendrils reconnoitering in force, reaching, imposing, insisting that it alone deserves dominance on the ground. The tomatoes turn red and drop away. The morning glories seem to be in competition with the squash. The peas have run their course. And everything, like some insistent cowlick, needs a restraining and caring hand.

-- Today is my older son's birthday as tomorrow will be my wife's. My son will return from a weekend seminar for track coaches this evening and I'll make some lemon-chicken and rice, which he likes, and get a cake in which to stick some candles. Ask either one what they might like for a birthday gift and they will say "nothing." There is an irritating quality to that.

-- Old age seems to be a bit like being marooned -- washed up out of choppy and threatening seas, your life no longer in danger, saved by terra firma, a sigh of thankfulness in the heart ... no longer threatened. But having gained your bearings, the land is no longer quite so clearly "firma." A marooned person is a person alone and the question will need to be faced: Is death a fate worth fearing?

What is this land called "old age?" If I had to guess, I would guess it is a land in which what was always obvious is now obvious-er, if such a word exists: Experience cannot be shared. And since most of the training received up until this point is not capable of addressing such a fact, I am a novice, a tyro, a man without capacities to cope with the obvious. I am weak and uncertain of how I can become strong or uncertain that strength is even possible. Such is the nature of being marooned ... saved and yet incapable of embracing my good fortune. The line between ahhhh and eeeek dissolves. Being sad or happy, outraged or full of joy no longer computes. Everything is for free and still I am trapped.

Experience cannot be shared. Period. There is food and drink and air and sunshine ... and yet ....

There is a learning curve which feels suspiciously like a curve of unlearning. There may be caterwauling or panic or surrender and none of it matters ... nor is it sad. It may feel constricted or constricting and yet, facing in any direction at all, things are clearly and enormously free.

But there is no sharing freedom, so how might a marooned man find his footing?


  1. After a life of coping, of being in charge, to find yourself increasingly irrelevant is kind of hard. I see people living their lives, walking around me, past me, indulgently pleasant but without time or interest in my irrelevant thoughts. People seem caring, but i clearly no longer matter.

  2. Charlie -- Within your framework, sometimes I think it boils down to a decimated capacity for dangerousness ... and the closest solution may be to buy a .38. :)

  3. Got one, but so far, whacking folks with my walkin' stick is more satisfyin'.