Sunday, March 16, 2014

what are you saving yourself for?

a friend asked me that question forty years ago. i didn't have an answer then, and i don't now. he implied, of course, i should lead a life as chaotic and wild as his own. hmm, i knew one thing though, you cannot do in old age what you had to do young. 

memories of adventures in 40 countries, 3 years in new york city, too many love-affairs to be proud of, plague me, pop into my mind: a street-corner in india, a lock of hair in greece, the smell of sauerkraut in germany. what am i yearning for? infinite time, the carelessness of jumping on trains or boats, throwing myself into theater improvisations.

improv, that's the key, a life of leaping  out of windows and into beds, landing on my feet or backside. unfortunately, no adventure tempts me into the foolishness of trying to repeat it. and last winter, agonizing over what to do once fire-season done, i had a very strong feeling. sit at my desk, write, read, cruise on the computer. and so, the next days off, i found a little cottage to rent.

despite enjoying myself, and with spring bursting out in town, almond blossoms everywhere, i still think, "time is passing. what haven't i done? and the answer always comes back, if you don't want to make the journey, the destination meaningless.yes, i always listen to that little train-engine in my brain. and these days it likes loafing by the station and watching the roses pop out.

for i did my 'life-time goals' exercise last week, three lists: five years, one year, and six months to live. the first came out as expected: travel, friends, nature. ah-hah, the third, however, shocked me. if i'd only a few months to go, i'd simply like to lay in the grass, feel the sunlight, walk in the woods and cities too, soaking up the sensations of the earth. alas, i've never been a sensualist. maybe it's not too late?

this made more poignant by the stroke a much younger friend experienced four years ago. once home again, he didn't recognize his own family. the intellectuals at the university with whom he'd worked interested him not at all. a writer, the devastation in his left brain, the home of language. now he had strong likes and dislikes, loved food like a child, and lives in a home with three-hundred seniors, dancing and being accepted for who he's become.

as somebody who's lived on the left, despite many attempts at pleasure, i'm even a bit envious of my friend. he's a new person who has left the intellectual life behind and lives more in his physical body. i wouldn't trade, yet there's a appeal, the taste of a second life. the only bad part: i might experience this, but not as the person i was. that new opportunity erased by the fact i couldn't know it was new. 

i must have saved myself for this, spring sunlight streaming in the door, this tasty cup of oolong tea (supposed to keep the chinese from heart-attacks), the paper from the doctor lying on the table, proving the cholesterol medicine working. i do have the urge to make something of it all. all i can make of it is this.