Sunday, April 6, 2008

Old Friends (My Sacred Life, Sunday)

What if, at some point not all that distant in my life's future, I become old enough that this photo illustrates the day's adventure?
My response to anyone commenting upon my piling up of the years has always been to point out that I knew no other option, or at least none other which seemed worth risking today.

More than thirty years ago, I enjoyed the beautifully simple melody and the somewhat melancholy, but not at all despairing lyrics and music which is Paul Simon's Old Friends. Then, it seemed like a song about a time as foreign as could be, perhaps about a different tribe or another country.

Sure, I could see the folks in my neighborhood who had reached a certain age, that age where things of the simplest sort, even getting your newspaper from the driveway, has become a significant event. In some cases, a difficult one to complete.

But it was so alien to me, and I wondered then how in the world people could find it difficult to walk. It is such an easy and natural movement, after all!

Now, I am much closer to those who feel "terribly strange to be 70" than I do to that young man who could not fathom having any problem walking. I get it now. In fact, I retrieve the newspapers for my next-door neighbors on both sides each morning from their driveways and leave them within reach of their front doors only to make their lives just that one iota less of an effort, and to let them know, every single morning, that someone has already thought of them, that very day.

I cannot begin to tell you how touched I was when, in visiting my neighbor while his family sat shiva for his departed wife more than a year ago, he introduced me as his "newspaper boy." I am honored to be of service and for him to recognize it so sweetly: his 54-year-old newspaper boy.

Whether it be brought on by fond memories of listening to this song or looking forward to the day when I could star in the music video, I don't know, but today, I leave you the image (a random one from the internet, shown above) and the lyrics of Old Friends. Best to all of you, this, my Sacred Life Sunday for April 6th, 2008.


Old Friends

Old friends,
Old friends
Sat on their park bench
Like bookends.
A newspaper blown though the grass
Falls on the round toes
Of the high shoes
Of the old friends.

Old friends,
Winter companions,
The old men
Lost in their overcoats,
Waiting for the sunset.
The sounds of the city,
Sifting through trees,
Settle like dust
On the shoulders
Of the old friends.

Can you imagine us
Years from today,
Sharing a park bench quietly?
How terribly strange
To be seventy.
Old friends,
Memory brushes the same years
Silently sharing the same fears...

8 comments:

dharmamama said...

One of my closest friends is turning 40 in a few days. When she pointed that out when we last talked, I was *astounded*. To me, she'll always be 25, always driving her little Honda with the windows rolled down... But nope, she's aged just as I have! I think that's what struck me about that song, that I've loved as well: the endurance of a friendship. Being able to look at each other and go, "Look at us! Who'd a thought?"

She and I used to joke about rocking on a porch together. I know we're not really close to that yet, (closer than we were at 20!) but I love that image, our friendship growing old along with our bodies.

Olivia said...

Ah, yes, Rick, indeed.

How nice to be in the same place where you've lived for so many years! As an Army brat, I always envied those a little who had homes and pasts and a history in one place. How precious that history continues to be as we age!

I, on the other hand, had the pleasure of being able to re-create myself with each move. But the loss of having neighbors always being strangers and always being in the process of just getting to know people before I'd leave. And of having nowhere to go home to.

As always, a provocative Sacred Sunday.

Peace and love,

O

xxoo

Rick Hamrick said...

Thanks for stopping by, ladies!

dharmamama--I had lunch a couple of weeks ago with a friend I had not seen in ten years. We both had changed a good bit, but we could still recognize one another...and we both talked about the fun, not the aging that had gone on since we last saw each other.

O--my dad was career Air Force, so I led the same life you did as a kid: just getting comfortable with a place and the people when we'd pull up stakes again...and again. My growing-up years have much to do with the stability I created in my adult life. I yearned for the history with a place I now have in my little area of Denver.

wickster44 said...

I prefer the saying "how old would you be if you didn't know how old you are".
It seems so easy to put limits on ourselves simply because we think we are too old for things. There are people at the cat shelter where I work who have simply decided not to do physical things because they are too old. I rarely want to tell them that I am older than they are, and it encourages me to bend down and get into the grunt work. I think I'll appreciate this when and if the time comes where I am too old to move myself-:)

Rick Hamrick said...

Wickster44--I love that way of looking at what we are capable of. At the same time, I'm fine with making the little accommodations I need to make so I'm not risking injury to prove I'm still able to do what I did years ago. It's a balancing act (unintended pun), not giving in just because of the calendar, and not refusing to give in out of denial.

No question that I have let myself come out of balance and lean too much toward safety instead of adventure, at least where my body is concerned. I'm working on that.

Thanks for visiting!

ladybug said...

I often wonder how it is possible that so many years are between me and college (or even high school) I know that I've changed quite a bit, but I don't feel that different.

My only hope is that when I'm 70, I am still able to dance around the floor like the wonderful crowd of seniors I do dearly love to watch (and even share a dance now and then) on the ballroom floor each Wednesday afternoon.

Sphincter said...

Yes, I have lately found a whole new appreciation of old friends. Even though much time has passed since I've connected with many of them, they have rallied around me. I'm so thankful. And thankful to you Rick, to have a place to say it.

Rick Hamrick said...

Monique--I'm still twelve, although no one will believe it except my wife. In fact, she finds my humor to indicate an age of ten or so!

I'm happy to hold the image in my mind of you dancing fluidly many years from now. Someone needs to be dancing, as it won't be me. I only dance in my dreams.

Sphinc--

I'm honored for you to express your gratefulness for friends here.