And let today embrace the past with remembrance and the future with longing.
Kahlil Gibran ~ The Prophet
Inside myself, I am real. I look out as if I were still vibrant. I look out from the aging, sometimes tired- for- no -reason form and wonder what happened. Where did SHE go? The pretty one. The lean one. The energetic one. The face and body that I took for granted. As happens in youth.
I’ve lived 70 years. I don’t want to die.
The inner me. Who still loves sights and scents and sounds and touch.
Yet the body, Oh, the body, the waning continues.
Thankfully, my cats don’t care. Nor my old friends. Nor my friends in general. Still, it’s good to talk to those who remember HER. We laugh at old pictures, at old memories. We remember the trouble, and the pain, and the joy.
I told my dentist (as he replaced a broken crown) that I didn’t like what growing older does to the body. I asked him: Even though I wear hearing – aides, can you still face me when you speak?
I keep up the motion, attend the maintenance appointments.
For her, for the real me, I keep writing, for that is part of who I am, and I need to keep her alive.
I keep up friendships, make new ones, walk on wooded trails with a group, go to TED talks, listen to music, read and re-read favorite books. I go to museums, and explore thrift stores.
And I awaken too early and I still feel dread, as I have since childhood, in those early morning hours, until I get up and move and tell myself:
You have to go walk, because the feelings of dread are chemical. You know this. You know you will feel better.
So I get up and walk and write now by candle light since the sun rises later, and yes I feel better. Much better.
Way back in my late teens I read “The Prophet,” by Kahlil Gibran. I thought I’d read it again today, but alas, he didn’t write about aging. He wrote about time.
He said: Who among you does not feel that his power to love is boundless?….And is not time even as love is, undivided and spaceless?
I wish that I hadn’t paid so much attention to my outsides. What I mean is, attention to the false. To envy, perpetrated by advertisement. To trying to look like a model or a movie star. I wish, instead, that I had paid more attention to the real me. To nurturing her. To being who I am.
In Portland Oregon, they respect aging. If you buy a train ticket to get to the airport, and you are 65 or more, you purchase one, not for seniors, but for “honored citizens.”
Having thoughts, looking back, remembrance is part of honored development, I believe. We live the way we are supposed to live, we learn what we are supposed to learn along that way. Living gives us opportunity to do so.
We are more than organisms, we are dynamic by simply being. We don’t stand still. Every part of us hums in motion and energy, which moves outward. We are never really alone, then, as we quiver.
And yet, I miss her, the young one. I miss youthful folly, youthful stupidity, followed by moments of guilt, or jealousy or humility. I miss the rising and falling. And rising again.
I’ve given up on being rich or married or famous. Once, I wished for all of those things. I realize that what I really wanted was expansion. Of mind, of soul. Of experience.
Longing, I see, is part of being alive. Fulfillment is accepting what is, and yet doing what we can to heed burning desires. Challenging our divisions and creating space around them. Our bodies are finite, but not our spirit.
We make choices. I’m choosing to continue what I can. Writing and art is at the center. Balance means keeping oneself from crumbling away at the edges of being.
Balance keeps me: Undivided, spaceless.
Copyright Suzanne 2016
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