Sunday, December 2, 2007

Aging (My Sacred Life, Sunday)

I noticed a couple of days ago that this fern on our patio, long since gone to the freezing temperatures, has a coloration not unlike my own. It still has many of its branches retaining their original color, just as much of the hair on my head has done.

At the same time, there are branches which have turned almost albino-light in color; yes, I have places where my hair has done the same.

One significant difference: I believe the fern is gone, although some of its foliage may disagree. I'm not gone...although some of my foliage may disagree.

It has only been recently that I have begun to notice the changes that are taking place in my life which are directly attributable to the passing of the years. I won't bore you or depress myself by attempting to list them all here, but I notice that I don't have the stamina I did twenty years ago, nor do I have the short-term memory I once had.

All the changes are not downhill ones. I feel I have a hugely better perspective on life now than I ever have had. It is not clear why it seems to take 50 years to begin to develop this kind of viewpoint, but my theory is that it is similar to climbing a mountain. At first, your view is limited. As you climb, though, you begin to see vistas undreamed of at ground level. Finally, you begin to grasp the meaning of the vistas only as you see more and more of them, see how they relate, and reach the peak.

At the same time, this perspective allows me to realize how little I know. I'm still working to be comfortable with that idea. As human beings, we have the luxury of knowing we can dominate this planet. We also experience the nightmare of what, in our ignorance and greed, we do to this planet.

Individually, we offer up only the slightest, usually unmeasurable, change to either the planet or to the path of the human race. In small groups, that change potential magnifies. In larger groups, the influence becomes a potential for real change; we can rescue our Earth, and I believe we will.

I find I invest more of me in trying to lift the eyes of my fellow inhabitants, these days. There is no vision for the future to be found in staring down at the asphalt as we plod through our days. So, I offer my own enticements to looking skyward, where there is hope, light, and love. I want to be only a single member of a large group which envisions a future better than what we have built today. So, I'm recruiting.

When I first joined the workforce many years ago, I was stunned to see how much the business world was simply a game played by a bunch of people who had all agreed to suspend reality--to abandon what was truly precious and valuable--so that they could all believe in the importance of this game.

Over time, I became a participant in the game, no longer the amused observer.

Now, decades later, I recall that first business meeting I attended: my own mix of amusement and disbelief at how silly it all really was, despite the serious faces and broad, important pronouncements from the people in charge.

Those decades have afforded me a better understanding and more empathy for the people who are still serious and broadly pronouncing today. Thankfully, I have finally returned to the place of the amused observer. I'm now able to gently remind the pronouncers just how silly they are, and they are able to tolerate my contribution, perhaps because I don't actually use the word, 'silly.'

I have wandered far afield from where I imagined I would go today with this post, and it's alright. One aspect of aging I failed to list above is the tendency to wander while telling stories.


djh said...

I appreciate your comments on how our perspective can broaden and deepen with the aging process. It's good to focus on the positives in a process that seems so biologically negative!

-an aging biologist

Rick Hamrick said...

Thanks for stopping by, djh!

Yes, I work to focus on the things I want to see more of, and ignore as much as possible those I would just as soon have go away.

Julie said...

I love your analogy here. I work with a few really young people who are very booksmart but allow themselves to get caught up a lot of little dramas that don't really even have to do with work. It is hard to coach them at times because you just know they dont have that perspective yet. I'll try, but then I pull back when I remember how I handled myself at that age, probably not taking advice from the older people.
I truly understand why we might sometimes want to be younger for physical reasons, none of us would ever want to go back to those times.

ladybug said...

I go around and around about noticing the changes in my own body and feeling the age (even though I am still young in many ways) I feel that pull toward where I will be...God willing!! But yes, with the things that we miss as we get older are a new set of paints that allow us to color our world with so much more clarity.

As for the corporate is a world of fiction for me too. I worked within it almost too long before being blessedly brought back to the world of creativity...where the 401ks are not as large, and the money not as steady, but the LIFE is ever strong and the reason for doing something rarely needs to be explained because it just SHOULD be done....not because some middle manager somewhere needs to make sure they look like they are working ;)


susan greene said...

I had to read your blog...I have only read this post which I completely agree with all you have written....because of your comments to painted house 52. Your perspective was in tune with mine but I did not write a comment. I wish there where more male bloggers...keep writing

Sylvain said...

You brought back the long forgotten feeling I had when I sat in my first meeting at the marketing agency I am at now. I felt much the way you did. I was astounded at how sef-important the people were and how they thought what they were doing was worth getting all wound up about. We market cars. We could be wiped out tomorow and nobody would miss what we do. I sat there wanting to scream "get a grip here people, this junk is meaningless" Ten years later, I needed to be reminded. Especially today. Thank you.

rebecca said...

i really liked your introductory paragraphs...good, poetic analogy.

i liked the way the post coursed itself through from the standpoint of where you are now and your "view" of life vs. that of when you were a pup.

yes, we loose some things...physical things. but what we gain is tenfold. nothing can compare to the wisdom acquired from a life lived listening and witnessing.

great, great post. overall, i loved your "voice" in this post.

rebecca - a person living 'twixt dawn and dusk...