Friday, August 7, 2009

Aging -- one story at a time

We're trying to write a book -- together -- about aging. This collaborative effort is because everybody ages differently. Jump in. Write about anything: love, health, family, money, fender skirts, anything. Please limit your thoughts to 250 words. If we get enough good entries, we'll see about getting a book published.

Have some fun. Click on "comment" below to add your thoughts. Here's mine:

"Like most people, I have a fondness for sunup and sunset - and for the special light that shines up the world at both ends of the day. Our primordial feelings probably go all the way back to the caves when the changing light re-wrote the rules of safety every day.

"As I sit on the front porch, I feel like a co-conspirator with the sun. The changing light continues to fetch up feelings that long ago I quit trying to understand – and now just enjoy. The dusk gently reminds us who controls the night. And from the primeval forest across the street, the cottonwoods launch fuzzy, feathery things that float gently on the air currents and look for sex. Watch them catch the thermals rising from the still-warm sidewalk. Ohh.

"In the first light of morning, the animals take charge. Birds, mostly, announcing a positive take on another day. The biggest wild critter on the block is the rabbit, if you don't count the mailman. Urban rabbits have developed two personalities - at the same time both fearless and tenuous. Truth is, as long as the Mississippi rolls through the cities, so will the rabbits. They rule the spring gardens.

"At last, I am beginning to understand the sweet pleasures in the invitation: 'come sit a spell.' I love this porch."


The South Plainsman said...

I think I would love that porch as well.

We had a lot of rabbits around our neighborhood.........

Until two families of foxes moved in.

We still have a lot of squirrels, but no rabbits.

One family of foxes also left.

One stayed to prevent the rabbits from coming back.

I wish foxes could climb trees.

sph said...

Be patient, paragraph is coming but it will take time...age, you know, allows one to slow down a bit.

Loren A Olson said...

I hated turning sixty; in fact, I fussed about it quite a lot. I told everyone to ignore the day – and they did.
I spent the day, looking for signs I had been remembered. A card, a greeting, something to know I’d been remembered. As the day progressed, I felt more urgent.
I peeked around corners, looking for balloons. I expected people to jump out from behind couches, shouting, “Surprise!” .
My partner called and said some friends wanted us to go out to dinner. “So that’s the plan,” I thought, knowingly.
I was so eager to get to the restaurant, I was early. I stopped at McDonald’s for coffee. I gave the young cashier $1.25. She pushed it back and said, “It’s only 39 cents – for seniors.”
At the restaurant I looked for cars I might recognize. Nothing. There, at our table were my partner and two friends. No one said anything about my birthday.
It’s easier now. I relish being a curmudgeon. I don’t go to parties where I won’t like anyone. I never sit through a lecture I don’t like. I may read only a few pages of a book. I don’t waste time.
My career is secondary to other absorptions. I understand life with a higher degree of complexity, and I view some values and institutions that had a great degree of influence on me with more ambivalence and skepticism.
But, please, sing “Happy Birthday” to me?

karin said...

I've had many chapters in my life most of them seem unrelated. My latest surprises me the most because I'm 72 and in the Wicca chapter of my life a palm reader said I had a choice that at 70 I could end it or live to be 110. Apparently my right and left hands don't agree. Since this is supposed to be about aging I guess you're not interested in the earlier chapters some of which were painful, some wild and exciting, nothing really boring but this will be for my life's story or stories that I'll write while waiting to be 110. What I don't like about being 72 besides the aches and pains is not knowing what the future holds and being dependent on another person, a situation I got into 6 years ago when I decided to sell my little RV and move in with another roamer in his RV. He took me to Australia where we lived in a Land Cruiser with a pop-up top for 6 months. When we came back I moved in with him. It was mostly hiking and sex. That's what that chapter would be called. This chapter is one day at a time. He has two bulging disc in his neck and we're hosts at a remote primitive campground at 10,200ft 13 miles up a steep rocky winding dirt road. Will we make it off the mountain this summer? What will the pain specialist say Monday morning? There are times when I think I should have taken the palm reader's advice and other times wondering if there's to be another chapter.

when w

Cowtown Pattie said...

"Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning, and under every deep a lower deep opens" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

St. Augustine described the nature of God as a circle whose center was everywhere and its circumference nowhere. It is said that Archimedes' last dying words were "Noli turbare circulos meos" translated means “Do not disturb my circles".

The circle embodies both evolution and devolution.

A stone cast into a quiet pool creates a seemingly never-ending ripple of ring upon ring. The earth, tears, a drop of rain, the arc of a rainbow, the womb and the curl of a growing fetus, elliptical orbits of the planets in our solar system, tornadoes, the rolling of an ocean wave, a bighorn ram's natural hood ornament, blood cells, musical notes printed on paper, hens’ eggs, a nautilus, soap bubbles, a wedding band…the examples are endless – as they should be.

The ancient Anazazi used the spiral in much of their art. You can see it in the little figure of Kokopelli (the flutist) with his spiral headdress, or in the simple lone spiral on a cliff face. Ancient circled stone monuments dot the world, their builders and purpose lost to time.

To grow old is a natural process of life’s circle, unchangeable; to waste time hoping otherwise is pointless. But, with each passing year, I find my own voice growing fierce and hoarse with unrelenting denial, the great philosophers’ words do not satisfy nor mitigate my panicked fear of the unknown. I cling to the pretention that aging is curable, a phantom lifeboat that will never arrive in time. We must each complete the journey in our own way, be it by calm acceptance or angry refusal - the circle will be unbroken.

Kathi said...

On my refrigerator there's a quip that says "Inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened." Yes, hmmm, what the hell happened when so many significant memories became just that, mental moments of the receding past, while I glide within(and bump along, and endure) the soon-to-be-ancient Present?

Suddenly I'm sixty, and retired. The car has 130K plus miles, and can't safely take me to my cherished childhood region, two states away...a number of cherished cats are now under the apple tree, and even my academic career ended five years ago.

And most unfortunately, for every constant I've let go, a new personal malady seems to have attached itself to my person or my partner's. Now doctors' office visits far outnumber fun things.

Sheesh...if I'd have known this was coming, would I have worked and played even harder?! Unlikely, but what new rigors of courage and endurance await us now? I don't like aging one little bit, though I wouldn't change a week of it for the wisdom of six decades.

But I'm damn sure not ready to sing a happy song to getting older. As the kids say, overall, it sucks.

sph said...

Great pleasures of my youth have only become known to me with age. Generally, childhood was something grueling and distant that was endured and not remembered unless an external stimulus demanded it. And then, an egg incubator began residing in our living room, over between the Earth stove and three aquariums of other animals. Through spring and into early summer, life happens here. Children come, neighbors call, eggs show up in old socks tucked inside winter hats or nestled into shoe boxes. Strangers have become precious friends with cute names like Duck Lady 2.

A square Styrofoam box with a heating element awakened me from my retirement and taught me the pleasantness of childhood I had overlooked.

Purchased at a local feed store, the incubator was to hold duck eggs. Eggs rescued from nest boxes as orphans or abandoned by the mothers for the myriad reasons nature can create. Other ducks on the large lake where we live along the edge just drop eggs, here and there without the least maternal drive to nest, nurture, or protect. A hen will be eating grain below a hanging song bird feeder, stop eating momentarily, perhaps cock her head sideways holding a puzzled look on her face and next an egg will be lying on the ground. She then walks away or continues eating without any visible change. These are the eggs that enrich my older soul, they go into the incubator.

The miracle of life and birth and all that is, well, just that. But the miracle of childhood regained, is to share the beginning as we approach the end. The incubator has two small Plexiglas windows and no internal lighting. To watch any activity inside, one must knell on the floor, bend over and peer inside with face near the surface of the box. This action in human anatomy no matter the age means the person’s rear end is straight up in the air. Enthusiasm stifles physical awareness. With sheer joy the participants and the observer cannot help but giggle watching the hatchling ducks. Yes, giggle as a child blowing bubbles, or giggle as a child being thrown into the air and falling back safely into the hands of a loving adult. The same giggle a child has at bath time and little yellow ducks are floating in the tub.

The very same laughter I have remembered and used to supplant childhood memories with truer, kinder ones.

Anonymous said...

Interesting…. when young I never thought about “my take on aging”. I think about aging quite a bit now that I hit “frumpity frump” (55 for those of you not there yet!). What is great is really knowing who I am and knowing that life is so much better without most of the baggage we tend to accumulate as we go through the process. And the realization that living is “process” as we are all terminal. Amazing what can slide off my back nowadays as in the big picture it is so miniscule.
My joys are of simple nature…a walk over the mountain with my canines, sitting on the deck watching the mare’s tails (wispy clouds) in the sky and listening to the cacophony of the critters in the wilderness. We know who are truly our friends and what a blessing they are. The thing I miss the most in today’s society is common courtesy, it seems to be a lost art. What I love is yelling something obnoxious at the oaf that has none and knowing I can probably get away with it! Aging is delightful…God designed us for these phases and stages and I will go as far as I can with as much grace as I can…throwing as much wild and reckless in the game as the law will allow!
Cynthia Inman

Ken Martin said...

Well I'll be 70 a couple of days before xmas and I'm looking forward to it.

About 3 months ago I started running again, or rather walking and running combined. I've managed to jog, slowly, as far as a couple of miles, and to sprint with abandon for short distances. Now I'm trying to figure out how to combine the two, go for the distance with a faster pace. My goal is to run a 5K race before the year's out.

Oh, I know I'll never regain the ability to fly through a three-mile run at sub-6-minute per mile pace, or run 20 mile races like I did in my mid-thirties. But I'm working on reeling in as many of those non-running years as I can.

In my book, aging gracefully is still making the effort to do what you enjoy, and holding onto what you've got, mentally and physically, and not just vegetating and waiting for the end of the line.

Anonymous said...

On Aging:
I saw you on national television, being interviewed about the turbulence on your flight. I’m not sure I would have recognized you. Would you recognize me? I found it online and watched it several times. Your voice is the same; it’s shaken something loose in me. You were wearing a yellow shirt; you always looked so good in faded denim. We were both so gorgeous then. I never told you the truth about why we broke up. I probably never will. We had grown up together, known each other since we were children. I thought it was just a happy coincidence that we ended up in the same small town after growing up half a state away. I didn’t know you had gone there, waiting for me. You were not the first, but ours is the only first night I remember. You looked at me and said “I’ve never even kissed you.” My mind can only dance around it, not remembering exactly because the regret will hurt. I married the man I told you I left you for; it didn’t last long after our son was born. I remember you came to visit me once while he was an infant. He’s an adult now, somehow the years got away and I ended up alone. There’s no way to make this go away, I had buried it over the years, and then I heard your voice. I wonder if you would recognize me?

Laurel said...

~ Geezerette Story ~
"When I’m 64"
By Laurel Rosenberg

"One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done."
-Marie Curie (1867-1934)
This is Memorial Day before my #64 birthday. With my eyes tightly shut, I attempt to fall back to sleep while visions of my life dance through my mind. I can hear the Beatles singing although the room is quiet.
What I have accomplished, what I have yet to manifest and all the dots in between filling me with mixed emotions. My legacy? What am I leaving on this earth to speak of my existence? How have I truly contributed? In the arc of my own biography, I have lived well beyond the center point.
Feelings of emptiness grab me, and I concentrate on breathing deep to relax. In, out. The echoes of my childhood, so far and yet so near. And then the smiles come.
On this very day of honoring others, I receive the gift of contemplating my own wisdom.
Like a golden fan spreading open for over six decades, each pleat filled with story, life has taught me everything I know….and have yet to learn.
Utilizing my art and writing to color and communicate my creativity and passion, and the courage to share this with others. My family and friends including three “kidults, ” their partners and two grandsons each bring joy to my heart and immortality to my being.
With deep gratitude and appreciation for my journey, I request YOU close your eyes and reflect upon the magic moments that have filled your life and make a toast to all the days to follow.

Laurel said...

"Capricorns Get Younger As We Get Older"

Anonymous said...

Friday night, 1950s, country town, Australia.

Friday night was film night. Friday and Saturday both had the same program, with a serial as well on Friday – Blackhawk, Batman, cowboy, pirate or other adventures. This was what made Friday our preferred night.

Dad would give me money for admission and some extra for a treat at intermission – licorice, chips, Twisties, or Fantales, Columbines in their long thin box, Jaffas. Jaffas were normally used for throwing at the screen or rolling down the aisle. I preferred to eat mine.

After the serial there was a newsreel and a cartoon. If we were lucky, more than one cartoon. Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck were general favorites. The support film followed, a “B” feature. In our opinion, this was often better than the main film.

At intermission, the younger ones ran to the Spot Cafe to be first served. Older ones walked around to the Central Cafe. It was a cooler place to go. It had a juke box, we could get one song played before we returned.

As with intermission, there was a hierarchy of seating arrangements. The youngest sat in the front seats of the front stalls. As they grew older, they moved back, but still in the front stalls. Always to the right hand side facing the screen. Older still, it was the back stalls. These were padded, unlike the front one. Eventually we ventured upstairs.

Our family left town about the time I moved to the back stalls. A couple of return visits saw me upstairs to my considerable delight, but that’s another story.

Peter Tibbles

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