A Certain Age

I’ve always been mystified by the people who are terribly age-conscious. When I was younger, I didn’t get the agonies my peers went through over longing to be old enough for this, that, and the other thing. Driving a car was never especially thrilling or compelling to me, alcohol had little allure as an illicit tipple when I could see how stupidly my peers (and many legal-age drinkers) behaved when drinking more than they could handle, and I’ve still not had the remotest interest in trying to smoke anything. I didn’t even care about R-rated movies any more than I do now; most of those are too violent, too rude, and or too loud for my usual taste.

When I got old enough to do all of the supposedly grownup-geared stuff, I became just as amazed and confounded by those who wish and try to be or appear younger than they are. If I want to lie about my age, I won’t pretend I’m some young thing I’m not; I’ll certainly tell everyone I’m much older than I really am so they’ll be impressed with how fit, alert, and fantastic I am compared to everyone else “my age”—but that’s too much effort for a silly joke on my part. I’m pretty content to be myself, whatever age I am, and let people love, respect, and admire me—or not—for the real me that they know. I’m happy to have accomplished what modest things I’ve learned or done, to covet the thin grey hairs and fine-lined wrinkles I’ve earned through years and experience, and to relish the freedom that comes with age.

Because as far as I’m concerned, the biggest and best goal of growing up (insofar as I’ll concede to attempting anything like that) is to be so at home in my own skin, however baggy and spotty and misshapen it might be, that I can like myself fine and expect the same respect from others without trying to be someone or something I am so obviously not. Here I am, 53-plus years of ordinary, thin-haired, not-so-fit, tacky happiness jammed into a humbly passable carcass, and I’m mighty glad of it.Ink drawing: A Certain Age

Beings without Substance

The measure of a human is not in her wealth, or success, or any of those worldly attainments to which we so happily ascribe great value in the popular realm, but in her simplicity. So much can be accomplished by the reduction of focus on unimportant things, the removal of distractions, and reverence for the smaller and more ephemeral stuff. This, this is how we shine.Photo: How We Shine Best

Brilliance Then and Now and Yet to Come

digital illustrationIris, in her long-legged elegance, has been for many years, a queenly inspiration among the flowers for me. Iris played a starring role in both the print materials and the floral arrangements gracing our wedding, being a great favorite of both my partner’s and mine. Not surprisingly, we cultivated irises in our own garden; my mother and a good friend living on my parents’ street also had many lovely varieties of iris growing at home. Our choice to use flowers only from those three gardens for the day of our nuptials meant we could still embrace our love of these tall violet beauties and their gracefully graphic long leaves as much as we liked.

Part of my desire for my physical leftovers to be cremated after my death is, admittedly, driven too by this love, since I know that iris plants often enjoy a little taste of ash to amend their beds. If it turns out that human ashes aren’t the kind they like, please refrain from filling me in on that and I’ll just let my survivors figure out where to surreptitiously and inoffensively dump mine and meanwhile go forth to my death happy in the thought that I’ll enhance some floral glory in my own little way.

I’d like to live a meaningful and purposeful life before dying anyway, to be sure. I’d be happy to know that my time on this plane is a good thing for more than just my own pleasure, but since I am not endowed with any mythic powers I know that my impact, for good or ill, will be modest. And that’s quite all right; it’s the path of nearly all mortals’ lives, and we who make up the chorus are necessary support for the brilliance of the marquee stars, the soloists, those few who make their mark with art or invention or discovery or any of those kinds of shining accomplishments. But I live in hope, too, that even if my shining moment doesn’t come in my years on earth, it might be achieved when I am back in the earth. So look kindly, when you see them, upon irises, for one day I hope to be smiling back at you from in their midst.