Responses to My Poem on Aging

sitting on Lin’s porch
the sun bright to the eye
and warm as it hits the body
I feel 18 & on the Jersey beach
yet when I stand to move I feel old
How come this is so?

I wrote this earlier today and sent it off to some friends
below are some of the responses I received

Jason to me:
You’re not old George!  Methuselah was old.  You’re 18 cause you are only as old as you feel in your mind!

Patrick to me:
ha ha the question is to me much richer than any answer I could muster. Questions give way to contemplation and in my experience contemplation isn’t literal but can create a shift in attitude. So it’s the poem for me, but that’s just me. What is feeling old but a state of being, transient yet here it is! There’s a lot of movement in your poem, sitting, sun, eye, being 18, the beach, standing, feeling old. So the flow of time is existential, something to experience. We could say that consciousness of the body happens when we move, when we are stationary the mind’s awareness shifts, that feeling of being old vanishes. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the body contains another awareness and when you stood up its sensations popped up.

Most of the time we are up in our heads. Poems can contain a deeper sense of life as a whole. Isn’t art an attempt to see things differently? Your photos are full of movement in a flash. My experience with poetry helps to break my habitual thinking. I just came from a meeting and am aware of how literal and conservative I can be. When I lose the movement of life and pin down words like surrender, and acceptance(which I do all the time) in a literal way I’m as dogmatic as the next Big Book thump-er, this is the dark side of spiritual or religious teachings.  Thanks George  Patrick

Corinne to me:
Your joints need to be oiled.

David to me:
Dear George,
About a year after I came back to Rochester I was walking over the Stutson Street Bridge [the old one] and I felt like I was 19.  So you’re a year younger than I was.  You asked how come this is so.  It is so because our minds can move around in time.  This is nice.  We are not stuck in the present.  A great limit on our freedom would be being stuck in the present.  If the present were all I had, I wouldn’t want it.  It’s only insofar as the present is an accumulation of the past that I care anything about the present.
You wrote that when you stand you feel old.
That’s why you should sit still.
Or perhaps hire somebody to carry you around on one of those portable sofas, like caliphs do.
Regards.  See you soon.

Peter to me:
Answer to conundrum dilemma:  Get up off butt.  Go outside and stand in the sunshine.  Touch your toes and then stand and breathe in all the air you can.  Walk to the furthest point you can see.  Return. You will then feel no older than 43.  No longer do feel like an old man.  I know this to be true because I walked on the beach this morning, came home and felt quite invigorated.  No older than 43; perhaps more like 41!  Now, time for my morning nap.

Bill to me:
I have experienced this phenomenon myself! The mind plays tricks on us!! I often feel like I am 18 but then I will look in the mirror and this fat 49 year old balding face starring back at me. To top that off I cannot sit or bend without my aching back reminding me that I am no longer 18.

The positive thing about this is that an 18 year old mind can keep our spirits young and help us to enjoy life and experience all its wonders.

Mike to me:
I often feel like I am young. Sometimes when I am playing, often when I I feel anxious or unsure of myself. Then I feel my body or think of responsibility or the past and remember my chronological age. The mature/immature yin/yang is pretty much a constant for me, like sitting on both seats of a seesaw.
Sent from my iPhone

Leon to me:
I hear you. I love to dance like I am 18 in my mind, but my feet won’t cooperate!  So in my heart I just imagine I can embrace the joy.
May you always have that joy in your heart!!!
Leon (via my iPhone)

Joanne to me:
Thank God for those kinds of memories!! Alas, however, we ARE old. At least as old as we feel…..and today I’m feeling older than ever. Probably a culmination of yesterday’s funeral activities – cold as h-e-double L, in and out of cars, cold buildings, climbing uphill in the cemetery….but we honor the dead and give thanks for life, such as it is right now. And a double whammy – my father’s generation is no more, and I am the oldest of those coming up!

The gathering after dinner was upbeat and we all recommended to each other various end of life/bucket list kinds of movies to check out, all humorous. I will now be looking in my library’s online catalog….

KEEP MOVING!!!! The alternative won’t do any good – J.

Deb to me:
This is what u call the cycle of life…..sigh…..
Thank goodness for past experiences and the ability to remember.

Jane to me:
Amazing how our hearts still ‘leap up’ at shore line sunrises, swaying mountain pines and dancing meadow flowers….

These same hearts yearn for 18 (without the youthful hard lessons to follow)…. Wish the water was warm enough for a dip!

Enjoy it all!

9 degrees here. Crunchy snow and smoke that is rising straight up!

Rodney to me:
Ah, young grasshopper – I’m just glad that poetry comes from the heart and the soul, the sunshine and the stars, not from the fingers or the knees or the Advil.
We also have sugar dusted beignets and chicory laced coffee.
Alas, here, it is 18 degrees with grey skies but 72 in Key West and 52 in NOLA.
Dreaming of Snookie on that Jersey beach ?

Peg & Ron to me:
Ah Ha!  It is SO because of your first word “sitting.”  Get up, move around, take a walk and put some zing into those steps and you’ll feel young all over again!!!!
Say hi to Linda!

Sharon to me:
Oh, George, I understand the feeling only too well.  Hasn’t anyone told you?  We are o-l-d!!  I know that since I just reached 65!  I am now in the realm of senior-hood, along with the requisite aches and pains. Hey!!  I’ve had these aches and pain for years.  They just, somehow, feel worse since my birthday -lol! It’s not a pleasant sight to watch me get up from my desk and walk initially at about a 90 degree angle for 10 feet or so until I become erect, or some close semblance thereof!

And so we take drugs!!

Ian to me:
Because you’re old – engaging in nostalgia for when you were young doesn’t change that fact that you’re old. Whoever said “you’re only as old as you feel” was full of crap…
But remember – one way or another this to shall pass. 🙂
Sent from my iPhone

Will to me:
Sorry, George for the late response to your lines. I haven’t looked at the blog yet, so my response isn’t influenced by them. I will respond first with my own lines, then with some analysis.

early morning anticipation
endorphins the brain’s
wake up call and
Youth see the sun
and wants to run
but that is all the further
slowed hormones get
entropy sags sitting legs
energy lags behind the wish
and we know we are not 18

Ellen to me:
Well, George, I read your blog, but no one really answered the question.  Why do we feel young when we are old?  We have eternity in our soul.  We have immortality in our being.  We dread and fear the grave.  But Christ has come to assure us we do not need to spend our eternity in this sinful, decaying world.  There are mansions above waiting for those who look to Him for grace, hope, love and eternity.  Who trust Him to rescue us from this bondage to sin and fear and replace it with hope and joy.

Looking fwd to eternity in Christ!

Judith to me:
Hi George,
I can remember my mother saying that she never felt any older her whole life and that she felt as if she could live until 120.  However, her body didn’t keep up with her mind and spirit.  I feel as if I have lived at least 3 lifetimes in this life, divided by the events and moves of our lives.  I hardly ever think back to the earlier times, perhaps too busy by the happenings of each day.  Or maybe too consumed by them.  I would hope that it might be more of being in the present moment.

There are people, too, with whom I can just continue a relationship and time seems to be erased when we are together.  You are one of those.  Other people seem to have a relationship for a time and then we go our separate ways and it’s over.  I think that in heaven we will do better at all this with a new “18 year old feeling” body to match our “18 year old ” spirit.
Right now I am in the middle between retirement and the next thing and trying to get things caught up around our house.  But that’s not very interesting to me and I am beginning to feel that I need to do something else.  I don’t know what that is.  Surely it is something else.  God must have a good plan for what time I have left.
Take care.

Scars of the Past

Remains of 1897 Shipwreck still visible low tide – Higgins Beach, Maine

Remains of the 1897 Shipwreck of the coastal schooner the Howard V. Middleton, are still visible a hundred and fifteen years after. August 11, 1897, in dense fog and at full speed, the Middleton ran aground in the Atlantic Ocean on a ledge off  Higgins Beach, Scarborough, Maine.

The collision forced a fatal breach in the hull.

Its cargo of coal salvaged as were other ship board items along with personal the effects of the crew. But the ship itself was past saving. A September storm forced the wreck further onto the beach. It is still visible today along Higgins Beach at low tide.

The scars of the past stay long after the causal event.
see more pictures of Higgins Beach at my Flickr site – click here

New Orleans: Hurricane Isaac in the light of Hurricane Katrina.
As I write this, Hurricane Isaac has come ashore at New Orleans one of my very favorite Cities.

Folks in New Orleans, like many of us, bear scars of the past.

For New Orleans and much of the rest of the Country, the arrival of Hurricane Isaac is lived in the light of Katrina. Ironically Isaac made land fall seven years to the arrival of Katrina.
The scars of Katrina are many and run deep.

Our scars are many and run deep.

Like the folks in New Orleans, the scars of the past affect how we see ourselves and the world. Decisions are made in the light of memories and consequences of past situations.

Sometimes these are positive and helpful in the big picture. And sometimes not. Regardless, they are there.

For some of us, the trauma that produced our scars are due to the caprice of nature or happenings beyond our personal control.
• an accident
• illness
• birth condition
• behaviors of others
• result of work related/ life style related stress

For some of us, the trauma is directly related to our own past decisions and behaviors.

The question is not do we have scars?
It doesn’t take much living to develop wounds and experience traumas.

The question is how do we live with them?
The problem is not how to get rid of these marks of wear.
The challenge is what does it take to go forward in life with them.

In my older years, I’ve discovered that there is no magic way – no one answer.
I’ve learned through experience, however, we do it one day at a time in the light of the grace of our God and our friends.

Personally, I’ve adapted the three A’s of one of the recovery groups, as a working model for doing it one day at a time.

Aware – I realize that there are remains of the past happenings that at some of life’s low times shows themselves. Some times this is a quick realization – a sudden jolt. Some times it is dawns slowly.

Accept – this is the way it is. I’ve done what I can to “make amends.” I am responsible. In many ways, it is over and done. But in the course of life, we may be reminded of it. The “record” if you will is still there, perhaps officially and perhaps only in your memory. Perhaps we look at ourselves and are reminded regularly.

The truth is we can’t get rid of them not matter how much we want them gone. Acceptance then is the answer.

Adapt – scars are one of those givens in life. The key for me is to move beyond awareness and acceptance and adapt.

Wow – this gets long. I’ll save my thoughts on “adapting life’s givens” for another post.
I’ll end here.