I’ve been wondering how to think about what has been. No longer existent, one’s past can only be imagined. Unlike the present or future, the past would seem to be ‘written in stone’ but for the interpretations we impose on it as we encounter new experiences.
Interpreting one’s past is further complicated by the complexities of our belief systems, moral imperatives and ability to think logically and reason. Our memories, furthermore, record only snapshots of past experiences limited by our fragmentary sensory capacities and fleeting attention spans, and for some of us experiential bits are conveniently forgotten in support of a delicate ego.
I’m beginning to realize the ‘what was’ is a realm of Being steeped in mystery. I sense my history is rich with unrecoverable experiences: makes me wonder how much potential understanding I’ve left behind.
It’s evening. The day has taken its toll. The aches and pains have accumulated over the day’s (relatively) strenuous physical activities. I’m exhausted. I can do little right now but convalesce. Maintaining the mantra: ‘use it or lose it’ is becoming increasingly difficult to voice with enthusiasm. Like others in my aging community vigor and flexibility are diminishing. The unable to perform list awaits and is never empty. Common medical knowledge informs us to cut back our physical (and mental) expectations, don’t push so hard, accept limitations if you wish to maintain your earthly existence.
Morning now. I feel invigorated, competitive again, ready to face any adversity. Age, after all, is experience, an equalizer against youthful exuberance. Bring it on. I’m more than ready for challenge.
In the summer of his 12th year this boy and his friends were introduced to musical instruments. They were being groomed for eventual inclusion into the high school band. In his small-town competition wasn’t an issue. Bodies were needed, so by the time these kids reached 7th grade or so it was assumed most of them, if they stayed with it, would take their places beside the high schoolers in the concert band.
That same summer this boy’s best friend’s brother, on the very day he got his driver’s license was given the keys to the family ’52 Chevrolet and he (the boy) and his friend were invited to ride along, to share in the experience of new found freedom. The country roads near their hometown were wash board, loose gravel and narrow, under constant grading that pushed up gravel ridges that made the roads even narrower. Five miles or so into their ride the car began to swerve having edged into the gravel windrow on the side of the road, overcorrected, swerved again, jumped the gravel ridge, down into the ditch and struck a driveway abutment. For some reason beyond memory the boy was given the honor of riding ‘shotgun’ next to the driver while his friend sat in the back seat. The immediate interruption of forward momentum was unfortunately restricted only to the car. The boy, having struck the dashboard with his face was suddenly aware of no longer having any front teeth.
Anyway, the big deal that summer for the boy and his friends was getting a band instrument. Everyone wanted trumpets. The consensus was this was clearly a masculine choice, the girls opting for clarinets or flutes for reasons similarly relating to gender orientation. It soon became obvious that the lip strength it took to produce sound through a brass mouthpiece without supporting front teeth was a non-starter, as far as becoming a member of the brass section was concerned. After the months of anticipation, the letdown was significant. The boy envied his friends for awhile until he was introduced to an Instrument that didn’t require a strong embouchure. He became the proud possessor of an alto saxophone that he soon came to realize was, strictly from a physical standpoint an instrument quite superior, aesthetically speaking, to the trumpet.
I was visiting with Granny Applehead the other day. She was telling me about being a flower child back in the day: the communal living, free love and days of care-free frolic under the influence of the magic herb. The way she tells it there was such optimism then, a sense of unlimited potential in overcoming the materialistic trappings of her parents’ generation. I don’t know if she was remembering accurately but the memories certainly were pleasant for her.
Granny’s not getting along quite as well as she used to; her knees are stiffening up and her face is starting to mold. She thinks it will soon be time to move someplace where she can get help with her basic needs. Well, at least she won’t be lonely; being a baby-boomer she’ll have lots of company.
She seemed pleased when I told her the government appeared to be easing restrictions on marijuana use and possession. Wouldn’t it be nice, with all these seniors moving toward assisted living, if we could provide a special brownie with their afternoon tea? Then they could revisit the magic dragon during their afternoon naps.