When people think of old folks do they imagine Seymour Glass’s fat lady, sitting on her front porch in her rocking chair, swatting flies, probably ill with some old person’s disease, listening to her radio turned up loud? Or J. Alfred Prufrock, questioning whether he dare disturb the universe or eat a peach: “I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.” But that’s not it. That is what I thought of old age when I was young and looking at it from afar.
Now, I think instead that being old is more like life was when I was young and I could call up a friend to say, meet me at the high school parking lot with your bike and a sandwich. Let’s go exploring. Or when I could wander up to the grade school ball field and find a pick up softball team. Possibly short in the outfield, but so what. Alone, yes, in that I went home to my own room and only shared some of my thoughts but with plenty of good and invigorating company.
Of course summer would come and we would claim to be bored at times, but still it flew by. But those days then and now, when we claimed boredom, were so still and hot that simply gathering and breathing seemed sufficient activity. We shared the air, the day, our passing thoughts. Then as now this self-same sensation lives in me. Of a day passed in good company to no effect that the world will notice, but all the same, sweet and shared.
And then comes the day when we are on the merry chase for a new experience, a road trip, a day in the country, a movie, a new project. Fully aware that the project is ephemeral, an enthusiasm that we enjoy, but will not save the world.
This is the benediction that is well-spent on the young and the old. We are here to discover ourselves, our surroundings, our commonalities; it does not require tangible results. It requires a mind at work, sifting, musing, and gathering sense, breathing deeply the cause of human existence. Still hoping that things were turn out alright, but now not just for ourselves, but for the world entire.