Feeling Old

Today my physical therapist remarked about her peculiar experience over the weekend. She said she came home with a peculiar look and her husband asked, “are you okay?”.

“Today,” she said, “was the first time I felt old.” She’s thirty one. “I was asking a 14 year old patient about her favorite television show. After she told me, I said ‘Oh, you must like Dawson’s Creek’, my favorite young teen show. She looked at me blankly. I realized it was on before she was born. “

Have you ever done the counting years ago to some well remembered event, then added those years to your current age? She said no. So I said, “don’t worry, you’re not old.” I gave as an example the day when Sgt. Pepper came out and I first played the album. It feels like yesterday or at least the day before.  Yet that was forty eight years ago and combined with my current age that means I’ll be 115 or so if a similar cultural event occurs. Yikes! And I know many of you have similar experiences. And not only as we age, but with illness or disability, the fact is we are likely to meet the difficulties of aging and possibly death, sooner than our peers.

It’s the nature of a force more powerful than God–Lord Time. In some Hindu traditions, Kāli is the greatest of all the gods and Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva all arise from her like the ceaseless waves in the seas. Ceaseless time, inexorable in its passage and unstoppable flow.

And human memory is both its greatest enemy by building monuments and memoirs from its detritus and deposits. And memory gives us feelings and recollections to hold onto, to know I was there, or I lived and loved, or this I did.

And, on the other hand. it leaves us vulnerable to the pain of recalling what we have lost and will lose as time pulls us, willingly or not, onward into its devouring maw. Thus contrary to what I said to my therapist of her, I am old. So much we remember and how recent the past seems to be. And, clearly, this present moment will similarly pass and the future, no matter how far in the distant it appears, will soon arrive.

On the one hand, carpe diem. On the other, tempus fugit. All things must pass and, writes Leo Tolstoy in War and Peace: “There will be today, there will be tomorrow, there will be always, and there was yesterday, and there was the day before…”. At least, Be Here Now.And Then Not

 

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