Saturday, February 02, 2008

Nothing Left to Believe In?

“After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on – and have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear… what remains? Nature remains.”
Walt Whitman

The other day, I harvested my first crop of the year: mixed greens, some broccoli florets. I augmented with some nasturtium flowers, some mint, sage and thyme. The whole time I was wandering around the yard with my salad washing bowl and scissors, I was hunting for edibe stuff as I greeted pots and plants I hadn’t seen in the past week or more. What a refreshing harvest.

I’ve reached an age when my passions are starting to harden into clichés: I believe it, therefore it is true. A world view that is neither reciprocal nor compassionate. So, I’m about there, cowering beneath the last shreds of my denial stage, and harvesting lettuce. I may be slower, but at least I’m wiser. I may have Alzheimer’s but then on the bright side, at least I don’t have Alzheimer’s. I’ve become my own cliché: an opinionated, 60-something, Grumpy Gus.

How did I get here? Well, there I was, retired at the ripe old age of 56, so I’d have some time to grow up before I died. It was pretty cool in ‘03, and remains moderately fresh to this day. Now, I can do what I want to do. For why I want to do it. Felt like being 12 and getting an adult library card: grown-up life awaited.

Then, as I added crumbled blue cheese, grated fresh ginger, and a sliced (store-bought) pear, like that Frisbee that comes closer, and closer - it hits me! I’m going to get old now, and I’m going to become acquainted, if not with sorrow, then with sorrow’s mother: death. And did I mention that upon reluctantly awakening in this time period a few years back, my luggage was lost: my faith? So, here I am getting old without the consolation of anticipating that reunion picnic with loved ones on a puffy cloud.

So here I am at the station, only to find no one is here to meet me. It’s a dead end. I added some glazed pecans to the salad. This is the season of the year when I have a sweet tooth. Compensation for loss of faith?

As I enjoyed what can only be described as salad heaven, I glanced at the clock to see how close my meal came to lunchtime. The clock said that any minute now, the people I love and care for will get even older than me. It’s like I retired and was dreaming blissfully on the beach as the tide rose. Waves started to crash over my chest. Our new god Science hasn’t quite figured out how to make our bodies young again.

But such a fresh and nutritious lunch fired up my brain. I realized that while I may be in the last generation facing unconditional surrender to physical degeneration of age, mine is probably the first generation who have an option not to surrender to the mental degeneration. That part is optional.

So, here’s the plan. I plan to live out my life span and remain alive to the last sunrise I’ll ever see from earth, and then I’ll lay down and die a happy death. Possibly after enjoying a fresh salad I grew from seeds. Belief in that is stronger in my soul than the faith I lost, with it’s false promises and sweet lies.

Today, I’m no longer waiting for my real life to begin. Man, that was a good salad!


Anonymous said...

You know gardeners live forever, don't you? Must be all the greens.

Maureen said...

post on life, gardening and all the in-between stuff that either (a) gets in the way ... or (b) enriches the between-ness ... depending on one's attitude and outlook I'll be back. thanks for commenting on my blog today -- or I might never have landed in your garden.

kate said...

I loved how you wove your salad preparations through your post. How lucky you are to be able to go outside and pick salad greens. The Nasturiums added some beautiful colour.

Slower, but wiser - I like your plan to "remain alive until the last sunrise".

I was medically retired at age 38 - reluctantly, but with little choice because of arthritis. I felt as if I had to grow up quickly and my view on life has been dramatically different since then.

Frances Goodman فرانسيس said...

This post reminds me of that They Might Be Giants song: Right now you're older than you've ever been... Now you're even older... Now you're older still.

nina said...

How can I overlook this post!
My favorite of Walt Whitman--and so repeatedly true (for me).

That must have been a WONDERFUL salad!

Nina at Nature Remains