Memory is like a backpack you packed for a long trip and you are unpacking it years later after spending months on the trail. – Ugh! that smells bad. I thought that shirt was green. Are those my sox?
Digging around in my bag of experience to recall what younger me thought and felt when in my twenties or thirties. He was not thinking much about elderly people. They weren’t on his cultural radar unless they were relatives. Even then they didn’t warrant much thought. He didn’t feel their identity within him. They were not current. Regardless of what knowledge or skills they might have had, it was dated and no longer relevant. They were place markers.
Now when the roles are reversed and I am “elderly” the rub of that kind of discrimination chafes painfully. Admittedly I am getting a dose of my own medicine (as my grandmother used to say). Cleverly, I now see the errors of my youth. I would like to connect to travelers who are walking this trail behind me. Some close behind. Some further back.
You may carry a day pack and I a steamer trunk and still have a lot to offer each other. Jus’ sayin’.
“Wouldn’t it be strange to be 70?” (Phrase from Simon & Garfunkle’s 1968 recording of Old Friends) I’m a guy surprised to find that I’m in my 7th decade. I want to share how this stage of my life feels to me. My hope is that occasionally someone will get a glimpse of somebody or something familiar that will add to our understanding of each other.
In a nutshell, it’s like being out of context. One minute you’re operating in an environment that you understand and feel at home in; the next you realize that the world around you is slightly out of focus. Double vision. The same but not the same.
Somewhere along the line you stopped attending to every little change in current interests, current styles, popular culture. (I’m not the least interested the Kardashians, Justin Bieber or skinny jeans.) Until sometime in the 19th century, you could grow old in the same world you were born into. The rate of change was so slow. Not anymore. Today the world changes so fast that we reminisce about prior decades and the last season of “Game of Thrones“.
I don’t want to live in the past but I’m not caught up enough to share the present with people who are 20 years or more my junior. I don’t want to lose contact with the people around me so I am searching for a solution that will help me re-connect.
There are also many wonderful things about this time in my life. I take more time to enjoy the sights and sounds around me. The gardens, the woods, the wildlife, fresh air, gentle breeze on a hot afternoon, new friends, old friends, sitting on the porch at sunset, riding my motorbike along back country roads, fresh vegetables from the farmer’s market, cold glass of beer at the end of a long day, the rapt attention of my dog Charlie, butterflies, birds, the comfort of 40 years of companionship and marriage, the pleasure of hard work, making things, the smell of honeysuckle on the cool morning air – just to name a few.
I want to get the most out of this part of my life and I think that must include trying harder to connect and share with others.
In the early summer of my 73rd year I am suddenly aware that my body does not manage heat as well as I remember from years past. Here in the northeastern corner of Alabama the drought coupled with very high humidity and temperatures in the upper 90’s have driven me indoors in the middle of the day.
Yesterday morning I was digging a trench to bury 2″ drain line for my grey water system and after only about 20′ of trench I had to go in the house to cool down despite working in the shade of the porch. It took far too long to recover. I am searching for the silver lining in this but the search must go on…
Some better news is the harvest of blueberries, strawberries, and goose berries from our gardens. Despite this, I have decided that I am kidding myself each spring when I get the urge to prepare the garden area. For a week or two I cultivate, weed, mulch and plant with the expectation that I will care for this garden and produce lots of peppers, tomatoes, onions, kale, eggplant, asparagus, and herbs. Every year my faithful gardening ends within two to four weeks. Gardening begins to be an obligation rather than a joy.
I am resigned to supporting the local farmer’s markets in order to enjoy fresh locally grown food and stock my freezer. I admire serious gardeners but apparently I will have to do so from outside the circle of master gardeners. – I may stick with composting, that seems to hold lasting appeal for me.