The amateur.

November 1, 2012 § 13 Comments

I am new at being old. Although, at sixty-one I can probably maintain my amateur status a while longer.

Having always been young my subconscious reaction is that being old is something I will get over, like  a cold. I will look in the mirror and the face I see will be the one I know, not my mother’s.

I avoid my first-thing-in-the-morning reflection.

Words like “tousled” make the disheveled state of waking up sound cute.

The old do not get tousled. Their hair just sticks up funny and their faces, when slept on wrong, stay creased a long time.

The visual side of aging is not pretty, but in my judgment one thing improves. The eyes. The eyes of the young are bigger, wider, the skin around them smooth, but the eyes of the old are deep and wise. The wrinkles around my eyes are wrinkles I like. They bear witness to a lifetime of smiling.

Why dwell on it? What happens to the body is inevitable, sped or delayed by habit, genetics, luck, but it is the experience of the spirit as the body ages I am trying to understand.

For me growing old began in earnest with the deaths of my parents. Life is a climb up a tree, reaching for higher branches, always following more experienced climbers who reach back to help. With the death of my parents I suddenly broke through the tangle of shadow, leaf and branch and found my head in the sky, the view unobstructed, alone in a wind that often feels as if it wants to tear me loose.

Being unmoored from life has begun to happen to those I know. The generation that came before mine has almost all gone. Now it is my generation’s turn. I saw on facebook that one of my classmates from Princetion High had died. The network that is the far-flung class of ’69 trembled. What did he die of? It had to be an illness—we can’t be dying of the accumulation of time, not yet.

No, not yet, but soon.

What? I say, feeling breathless. Already? I can’t catch up with this new old self. I still feel as if I belong at the kid’s table drinking out of a plastic cup.

Then I remember, I was an amateur at being twelve too. Man, did I suck at being twelve, trying to be cool, worrying about how I looked more than I did about the fact I was flunking algebra. And eighteen? Suddenly I’m in college. How did this happen? Married? Pregnant?

It’s like time is that kid in the cafeteria who pulls the chair out from under me. The lunch tray and I land on the floor every time.

But there’s a difference. In the past the resounding clatter of cheap china hitting linoleum was the next big stage in life–something I should have seen coming.

I now face the unknown.

Not-life.

And here is the strangest thing. I have never felt happier or more at peace. As time runs short I take more particular notice of each moment instead of following the old driving rule of watching the road six cars ahead.

I’m here. Perhaps the most here I’ve ever been–and the most alive.

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§ 13 Responses to The amateur.

  • KM Huber says:

    Moment by moment, I am right there with you, anticipating the unknown, so alive, so aware, so at home.

    Karen

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  • My left ear lobe collapsed the other night. Before I went to bed I had looked at both ears, perfect lobes. Around three in the morning when most heart Attacks occur I sat up and got up. Bathroom break. Turned on the lights. The mirror told the whole story. A crease ran deep right across the lobe from top to bottom. I knew when it happened. maybe like a hill feels the mud turning loose and sliding down the side. I Can just see those rocks and pebbles bouncing happily down the side, picking up speed and glancing off each other. Such is the mind of a paint ball stroking guy. Remind me to tell you about the tick I came up with yesterday. And glad for the note and every body well. also at 70 I am delighted with myself. I laugh at me allot these days. Then, I go get an ice cream sandwich out of the freezer. So everything was revealed and I jumped back in the bed, it was the middle of the night. Gerald

    PS. Did you and Ray ever slow dance to the slow song sang by Nat King Cole. It starts out with french words, and just gets better. You need to look it up and do it again.

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    • Earlobe collapsed on you, did it? That’s the kind of thing a body does when it reaches the betrayal stage. Luckily you, like I like that old traveling companion (I plan to keep my body as long as possible).

      Ray and I are not known for our dancing–but we do sing made up songs (mostly ballads to our dog) more often than even our dog appreciates.

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  • deb reilly says:

    A few weeks ago I woke up with my eye too close to my arm. I got scared. When did my arm skin get so weird looking?

    Small price to pay for the goodies old age brings. I raise my plastic cup to you and Ray, Gerald and Karen.

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  • craig reeder says:

    great how you ended that blog on a hopeful, upbeat note! and i think you are right about something: the best strategy for this phase of life is to be fully in the present and savor each moment. let the future take care of itself. we have more important things to be aware of right now.

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  • Richard D. says:

    Nicely put, Adrian. Richard D.

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  • craig reeder says:

    but make sure you keep looking 6 cars ahead WHILE YOU’RE DRIVING!
    🙂

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  • Sigrun says:

    beautiful words, wonderful reflections, uplifting – thank you!

    Like

  • ammaponders says:

    I’m here and I’m alive. Wise words to live by. Thanks.

    Like

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