About time.

“Nobody sees a flower – really 

      it is so small it takes time –

      we haven’t time –

      and to see takes time,

      like to have a friend takes time.”

                                                                                          Georgia O’Keefe

Not so long ago, time stretched ahead in an endless ribbon winding out of sight to unlimited possibility and opportunity.  There would always be time.  To do more, have more,  be more.  Or ..to change course.  

But the paths were one-way, constantly bifurcating.  With each decision well reasoned or impetuous, other paths and their tributaries were lost to view.   Still, there was more time, surely.  

Then inevitably, imperceptibly, my  path narrowed and led me here.  Now the path ahead is straighter.  There will be fewer opportunities, fewer choices.  Each moment counts.

 It’s time to take time. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FLIGHT

Brilliant red and gold leaves blanket the forest floor.   Bare branches appear in silhouette against the twilight sky.  Fat raindrops splattering on the lake turn to pelting rain as the storm advances.   Gathering winds sigh and whisper warnings to the pines along the shore.   Ducks bob  in the choppy waters, cackling and fluttering.

 

A sentinel drake breaks away from the flock and with a raucous cry, beats his wings against the water and rise  to sound the ritual call.  Bird by bird they follow,  soulful cries echoing over the lake as they ride the southern winds into the darkening clouds. 

 

 

 

Age Appropriate

“There was no horizon. I never thought I would lose the horizon along with everything else , but when you get old you realize whichever direction you choose to face, you find yourself confronted with a landscape filled up with loss.”

Cannon, Joanna. Three Things About Elsie: A Novel (Kindle Locations 75-76). Scribner. Kindle Edition.

A friend was recently criticized because  her behavior was  “age inappropriate.” She had no clue what that meant.  And neither did I.

There are those who retreat at age 65  to their recliner and reruns of “Law and Order,” and those who run marathons at 80.  Those  who charge madly though life as if defying death,  and others  who monitor each morsel of food and clamber for the latest  anti-aging treatment to avoid crossing its path.  And then there are the motley rest of us who take reasonable care of ourselves and simply hope for the best.

I wasn’t expecting to grow old.  It simply happened when I was busy living my life.  Then one day I looked in the mirror expecting to see my familiar 45 year old self only to find  the tired eyes of a wrinkled old woman staring back at me.

Of course I did know a few things about growing old.   People complained that their friends all died.  That didn’t seem so bad to me when I was 45 because I could always make new friends.  But not now.  No one can replace those friends who have walked though life with you, who know you and love you in spite of it all.  As I write this, a dear friend is dying;  a friend who  cannot be replaced.

I heard old people complaining about their aches and pains; the time and money spent at doctors’ offices.  But I took pretty good care of myself.  That wouldn’t be a problem.  Until it was.

They said they wished they had been better people, made better choices.  I played by the rules;  I made great decisions.  Until viewed  in hindsight.

I thought old people’s  lives became small because they stubbornly refused to engage with the world.  But now I wonder,  did they quit interacting with the world because their lives became small?

When I grew old (assuming I did), I told myself, I would know what to do.  The usual stereotypes wouldn’t apply to me.

In short, like most people, until I faced old age myself, I had little time for old people and even less understanding of them.

But inevitably, I  too, found myself in a “landscape filled with loss”, and a life once expansive, now contracting.  A  scenario too frightening to contemplate at first.  For a time it was easier to avoid the mirror, to keep a safe distance from friends who like me were old and getting older.   But over time, the pretense just became exhausting.  And ironically the more I quit pretending, the easier it all became.

All lives end.   A truth I have finally owned, even embraced.  And ironically it is this truth that provides the perspective I need to do the hard work of right living.   Something I would have done well to have embraced at 45.

But I still don’t know how to be “age appropriate.” I don’t have a clue.  I guess we work that out as we go along.

 

 

 

 

THE MOMENT

“In your life there are a few places, or maybe only the one place,where something happened, and then there are all the other places.”

Alice Munro, Runaway

 

 

It may surprise you.

Maybe not the longing in the first lover’s eyes,

Or a tiny hand clasping yours,

Or even the ragged last breath of a cherished one.

No, maybe just

the puff of dandelion seeds floating on the morning air.