Sunday, July 05, 2009

Growing Old

My current age finally seems old to me. In the past I've been startled at my age but never thought it was that old. Perhaps my current age would seem young and frisky, too, if I felt more young and frisky.

It's not that my health isn't good. Oh, I have aches and pains. I get little injuries and illnesses which I nurse along certain that time will cure them and it does. That's sweet. I can still walk a pretty long way and climb some stairs. Theoretically I still have some percentage of my mental capacity.

What I finally have lost is that sense of endless possibility for things I'll achieve, the places I'll go, the things I'll see happen and the better, stronger, smarter (and yes, thinner) person I'll become.

I feel boxed in. Trapped by how old I am and what will and won't happen.

Of course, I know how it ends. But not when. And there's the rub. Or, one of the rubs.

I once dreamed I would learn many things that I have not mastered. I once dreamed of traveling to many corners of the globe. Now my dreams are circumscribed by the certainty of dangers and lack of bathrooms in many locales.

Ah, bathrooms. Old enough to be out from under the proverbial 'curse' of womankind, the bladder and bowels are aged and not what they once were. Sadly, even the spouse needs to carefully regard bathroom locations these days.

We sometimes imply that it is the three elderly parents which keep us close to home. And this is, perhaps somewhat true. However, they show great independence and we have found others to fill in for needed duties. Maybe the truth is that as we see their worlds shrink it is hard to escape our own feelings of being boxed in. None of the old folks can drive now and none would sign up for a trip further than about ten miles, I don't think, even being driven. My in-laws have never flown and my dad doesn't think he's up to it any longer. I'm definitely up to road trips, long plane rides, etc. But somehow find the idea of going far a bit tiresome myself. Still I enjoyed the last trip and must just plan another.

It all seems a bit futile sometimes. I know life is ephemeral, but this has never stopped me from wanting to improve, learn, grow and go. And it isn't now. It just feels different. Less open-ended, more final.

This feeling is reflected in my acquisition and desire for things. I remember when I was a kid, late teens, early twenties. I was just stopping growing and so had started to actually wear clothes out. I clung to disastrously worn old tennis shoes and jeans, proud to have actually owned them long enough to make them well-used with a few holes and some character. Then I went through a long period of acquiring clothes. Now I find myself loath to buy anything new even though my wardrobe is ancient and starting to wear a bit thin and shiny in places. I remember wanting to expand my living space, buy more real estate, own more gadgets, books, CDs, movies. I wanted to acquire art and build new space to have walls to display it. Now I want to have just what I need, no more, less complicated please! (Although I still get a bit of pleasure from looking at the books we saved last year and those added in since then on the shelves we built into this condo.)

I have also reached a point where I realize that I have already been here a while. I reflect on places and people. On the dead and the living. Heck, as I look through my contacts data base or even my facebook friends I often think "who is that anyway?" I've known people and forgotten them, left them to meteroic success or maybe dismal failure. There are stacks of events poorly remembered, distorted images, hoarsely-pronounced lines from the dull yet surreal play that is my life. I have known people, tried things, read books, seen art and it's all stuffed deep inside me and hard to find.

I have reached an age, I guess, where I realize that one day, possibly not far off, I won't walk in this realm. I don't just know it, as I feel I have for most of my life, but realize it in my bones. Which the young cannot do, nor could I when young. And that, that feeling more than the knowing, makes me old.

I think, though, in my old age, that I should release myself frequently from duty (from financial head-scratching, domestic duty, volunteer work, exercise, worrying about the parents and socializing) and just read and write and think freely, with no guilt about what has or hasn't been done. Thus today I will leave dust and the need for exercise and the call to pay attention to other exigencies of my little life and do a small amount of reading and thinking. You can never really get those duties truly done anyway. And I won't worry that what I pour into my brain from reading or my own creations will merely disappear with me when I am, inevitably, gone.

[Today's photo is a NYC shop window reflection. The title of the piece is "I Have a Book in Me." Ha.]

1 comment:

Bitsy Parker said...

Both your parents and FP's parents live to nearly 100. You have to expect that only half your life is over, and look at what a good job you've done with the first half!