Thursday, March 03, 2011
Reason to celebrate
Let me devote my remaining years to learning the art of being elderly. That is the creative task now! You could put it otherwise, if it didn’t sound morbid (though nothing morbid about it to me) and say learning the art of making a graceful exit. So I shall do nothing more than finish what I’ve started in this life, by tying up the loose ends. First I must see just what it is I have started. I shan’t be in a hurry about this process of clearing my desk, for after that, there would be only one thing left to wait for. On the other hand I might be dismissed from this employ called Life tomorrow.
I could consider my past, with all its flagrant mistakes, regrettable if only for their effect on others. Yet a journey is not wasted if you end up exactly where you want to be. Here now, there is nothing I want to change. So perhaps I can say that all along I had a winning strategy, even though it was far from obvious at the time. Of course there are irritations and discomforts aplenty, but I would not wish them away, for such is life; and without life there is only death, which may come in its turn without an invitation.
I could say truthfully that I am 100% content, but to actually realise this takes a catalyst, such as an aimless walk in the sunshine, even when it’s cold with a bitter wind, as it was yesterday. As I walked, the idea of nineteen plus fifty came to me, and filled me with happiness like a magical mantra. For the duration of that aimless stroll, I felt in some mysterious way that I still am nineteen; and that the fifty years have folded like a concertina into a mere membrane, a negligible interval of time, such as when your attention wanders and you miss what the other person has said, so then you concentrate, and wind it back with a kind of instant replay facility. Yes, it’s all there, in a single folder marked “50” into which all the dusty files left over from those years are neatly collected, present in ghostly form, researchable only by the one scholar, because I have better things to do than make those memories public property.
I started to ask myself in what way I feel a continuation of being nineteen, whilst the fifty years in between appear like a digression (the sort you might include in brackets if you were writing on one topic and noted something else in passing). I certainly don’t have the same preoccupations and worries as when I was nineteen, thank goodness for that. It’s more of a physical thing. Within those fifty years, thirty were under the cloud of a chronic illness and another ten at least in undiagnosed acute unhappiness. So there is some logic behind my illusion of having woken up from a bad dream, to discover that I am still in the same (nineteen-year-old) body and seeing through its eyes. It has been said, "Youth is wasted on the young". And how often do people say, “If only I knew then what I know now!”
It occurs to me that this month of March, in which I was born, is symbolic of youth. In the Northern Hemisphere, the seasons act out a symbolic drama, from January birth to December death, in which March is the teenage time, followed by the Springtime of courting and dalliance. To be really aged nineteen, there are many future uncertainties to face. You have to establish a life for yourself, somewhere to live, a career, a mate. Somewhere within these activities, you have also, and most importantly, to make or discover your identity. Discover as in uncover, like sculpting with marble, by cutting away and discarding what is not you, to discover what is really you, within the expendable dross.
So this is what I mean when I feel like nineteen all over again. The previous uncertainties have been resolved. The discovery of identity is still on the agenda, a Grail-quest of no particular urgency but somehow containing everything.
I’ve spent my life getting lost. So intoxicating was the sunshine that I got lost again on my walk yesterday, though as a proverb says, “You ain’t never lost if you don’t care where you are.”
But I found a square tunnel under the motorway, specially built for walkers, and when I got out the other side I was captivated by a landscape, so unfamiliar and magical, that I wondered if I’d gone to another dimension. I did my best to take a photo, above.
Posted by Vincent at 11:13 am