Various versions of a letter about growing old are making the rounds of FB, prefacing the topic as, “the 4th quarter”, or, “Then it is winter.” Or some other such poetic nonsense.
This 69 year-old has a slightly different take.
Time does seem to accelerate as we progress in our life’s journey. And it is true, as a younger man, my thoughts were not on aging or changing, but in living in the moment. If you truly concentrate on the here-and-now, you will mercifully be spared the contemplation of a completed lifetime. Only in retrospect can one understand the concept of the quickening of human maturity. Other “mature” sages try and share that wisdom with the young. I say, leave them in their current bliss. Their day will come, not by our suggestions, but because of their own singular paths and experiences. I choose to leave it unsaid as a surprise for them to be enjoyed later, at the right time. Another Birthday present.
While some wonder where their years went, I know where mine went; into my collective self today. I am the sum of my experience. Nothing has left me. While my memory may fail the recall, my spirit collected all of it and stored it in me. My eyes still look outward and my vision is the same today as in my youth, not as measured by acuity, but as in really “seeing.” I see the world the same way, then and now, outward looking, avoiding the gaze into the mirror that reminds me of the changes in me, not because I’m ashamed, but because I need to overcome the physical by strengthening the certainty of my psyche.
Others bemoan tasks like showers, mandatory naps, aches, pains, loss of strength and the ability to “do things.” I reject all such talk. I may not shower every day, not because it’s a hassle, but because I don’t want or need to. I nap if I want, but don’t need it. Aches, pains, strength, I deal with it as I’ve always done. Maybe the pains last longer, maybe the strength is not as it once was, but I make allowances and I power on.
As for regrets, the contemplation is a fool’s errand. Any single change would have rippled across the consequences of all other choices and outcomes all would be forever altered, beyond who I am today. I would not only take no such risk, but the thought of doing so is impossible. I live in the here-and-now, not in the fantasy world of wish-I-did-something-different.
Last summer I rode my motorcycle out to Sturgis, South Dakota for the annual rally in the Black Mountains. Afterwards I rode to Denver to see my kids. I play squash, I ride my bicycle, I play tennis, (usually spotting my opponents 20 years) and still prevailing. I kayak, fly-fish, deer-hunt and work full-time, enjoying a full social life and writing about life.
So please, don’t tell me about “old” cars “old” movies, “old” age, “old” friends I don’t want to hear it. Today is now, right now for all of us. Yesterday has expired and tomorrow can only be prepared for not lived in or experienced until hatched. That leaves us with the here and now; the only time we actually control is this very this moment, nothing before and no guarantees for the next second.