Today is amazing. The sun pours down. A cool fall breeze, laden with the scent of fallen leaves and pine needles refreshes. The blue sky dominates against a backdrop of the last trees of fall, ablaze with color. Mesmerizing!
I took a short walk this afternoon. I had to get out in it! The poplar trees in my neighborhood resemble half-eaten corncobs, kernels of leaves bitten away by recent storms. I considered the proposition of death. I know, morbid. Yet it seems to me that I might be in the middle of my life span. We spend so much of our lives trying to get to do more and more. When we’re babies, we strive to walk. Then we want to talk. And on and on.
But as we age, we find that our options start to turn the other way. Jonathon and I won’t be having any more children. We’re getting too old. I already have gray hair. I don’t need to voluntarily seek more! One of my coworkers on the shelter project retires next month. As in, exactly one month from today, he will no longer be employed full-time. He’s worked for 30+ years and is ready to move on. I imagine he feels more than a touch of sadness amidst all the joy attached to that event. We tease him about sneaking out early on his last day. Wouldn’t you?!
This turn of the tide feels a little like betrayal. When you’re young, it seems the whole world lies before you, a ripe succulent fruit you can’t wait to taste. As we live and make choices, time marches on. Our choices and the passing of time shape our future. The fruit fades a little. After all this time, is there nothing more to look forward to? I see my kids learning more and more skills. Ruby continues to create beauty out of found objects. Zac acquires more knowledge in school and conquers his video games.
Even as the trees shed their glorious raiment of leaves and enter dormancy, there is still beauty. I have to remember that as long as we’re above ground, opportunities to grow and change exist. We can get a lot out of enjoying each day and making the most of what is before us. We can still pick up new things. We can still “seek out new life, and new civilizations” even at our advanced ages. New discoveries await and they aren’t age-biased. Einstein received the Nobel Peace Prize at age 42. Georgia O’Keeffe started painting in earnest at 80. I end up returning to the words of King Solomon, composer of numerous psalms and most of the wisdom books:
There is hope only for the living. As they say, “It’s better to be a live dog than a dead lion!” – Ecclesiastes 9:4