My birthday is coming up and I’m having an existential moment. The rules of my very being are confounding me. I’m going to be 76 and no matter how I think of it the very number seems quite amazing. Am I that old? What on earth did I do with all of that time? Did I do enough with that time? Have I learned enough? I’ve always been a reluctant math student, although fascinated with the symbols, but there’s nothing except awe at this number. My closest friends all talk about what aches and has stopped working as well, and I join in those conversations. My walking is aided by a walker and sometimes I get a shot for my middle finger (don’t make jokes about using that finger too much – it’s being used as often as the others!) to offset the pain from arthritis. Nonetheless, I’m still planning trips to Sisters in Crime conferences and to visit my college girlfriend and then I paint quite a bit. My walking and arthritis only inhibit me when I think about each as an infirmity and so I try not to.
But the passage of time is what makes 4 times 19 a big number. I no longer have the same reactions to the memory of specific events from when I was younger. Instead I look back at the events with more a sense of colorful wonder. Look what happened. I don’t rail or cry about the event or laugh and giggle about still others. It’s a close sense of passage. The events passed by and I’m here now. Did I learn anything from them? I don’t know. I do know that those events helped shape decisions I made then, but I don’t know if I learned anything from them or if they changed my inner being. I remark to friends that I know that time has passed when I talk about the youngsters that I had in my office for classroom behavior issues, and I talk about how cute the youngster was. Please! Even now I remember the teacher coming in later frothing about the youngster’s poor classroom behavior and how instruction was interrupted. Yet, in my memory, I choose to focus on the child’s adoption of contrition while in my office. Lucky child that I can so easily revise his or her event.
But what I can say as a certainty is that each event, however small, caused a change in direction for a journey over a splendid number of hours and days. The word “time” is such an odd word. It is so elastic, yet finite. There’s no defining limit yet it is restricted in the word’s very definition. Still the word time is a continuum of events that keeps extending over a swath of colors widening and curling over itself until the colors blend and sing. Oh how lucky to be 76.
On still another note – I have now used up our available bookshelf space. Diana, my understanding daughter, has not made fun of my growing Agatha Christie collection. But what to do? The last time this happened I was living somewhere else, and I double shelved the books. Invariably I would have an emergency and need the book that was behind the others. I do not intend to double shelf. We have talked about getting a new credenza for under the television in the living room area. I wonder if I can artfully persuade Diana to want a new bookcase. I could work on that and then, when she suggests it, I can picture myself being gracious about it. Of course I am admitting to my duplicitous tendency. But it’s a small tendency. I’m not naturally duplicitous and this is for a good cause. We really need more book space. I forgive myself. It’s a necessary ploy. Are you ever gracious about something that you originally wanted and now will get due to someone else finally thinking of it? Let me know.