I’M OLD. NO I’M NOT. YES YOU ARE.

The sun was shining through the blinds and shades in the bedroom. It had been beautiful yesterday. Today promised to be another bright, sunny day.

I opened the window. The softness of the air confirmed it. Usually, I go back to bed and listen to a book for a while before really engaging in life, but today I was thinking about writing.

Photo: Owen Kraus

I was feeling young. My bones didn’t ache. I was thinner than I’d been for a few years. Over the past 14 months, I’ve lost 14 pounds. I wasn’t on a diet. In fact, I was on an anti diet. I ate more food than I had been eating and when I increased my calorie input, the weight started to fall off. You know all those articles that point out that if you are constantly on a diet, your body thinks you are starving and hoards its fat? Well, I’m here to attest that eating more food — not a huge amount more, but more than I had been eating — convinced my body to drop a few spare pounds.

Photo: Owen Kraus

During lockdown, my hair grew long. Since that’s the way I like it, other then twiddling with long bangs, I’ve merely trimmed the tips to keep everything from splitting. Losing weight makes me feel young. Blue jeans have become — again — the most comfortable clothing I own. Who’d have imagined that?

I looked in the mirror and there was the same old face. I haven’t gotten younger. Nothing will turn the tide. Note to self: I should take up surfing.

The forsythia are considering blooming

I don’t want to be a kid again. I didn’t like being a kid the first time. I have been noticing a lot of challenges on WordPress involving “remembering.” Many of these are written by people I think of as young, but they are suffering from nostalgia about high school and even before. For me, that was so long ago I really don’t remember most of it and have little motivation to go back and dig up the information.

Also, it just wasn’t that important in the great scheme of my life, though I’m sure it seemed a big deal at the time. It was long ago and far away. I remember a couple of exceptional teachers. One was a Ph.D. physics teacher (me? physics?) and a Linguistics doctorate who couldn’t find a job that paid real money at a university and settled for being a brilliant English teacher. By the time I was done with him, I understood word construction — how English is built — plus some solid basic grammar. Both brilliant high school teachers were PhDs. I’m not sure if that means anything, but they were the only two doctoral teachers at Jamaica High School.

Yesterday, some daffodils were partly open. It’s a new day!

Like all the other kids with whom I more or less hung out (Note: I was never accepted to any group until the college radio station), I’d never been taught grammar in school. We were the “smart kids,” so all of us were supposed to be geniuses who would advance the world with our great knowledge. Except when the annual competitive testing came around — which in New York it did long before it became a national trend — it turned out as a group, we might be ready to launch a rocket but no one could parse a simple English sentence.

I suspect my great donation to human knowledge is this blog.

From my birthday, blooming Easter Lilies

We did a lot of parsing that year. It was also the year I had Dr. Feiffer teaching physics for the helplessly anti-numeric crowd. We were the kids who got 800 on the verbal part of the SATs and 500 (if we were lucky) on the math section. I was fine with science, but numbers and I didn’t connect. I always wondered if I had better instruction in math, maybe I’d have gotten a grip on it.

Dr. Feiffer was enlisted to teach we literary types some kind of science so we could graduate with the kind of diploma you need for college. He taught the “History of Science.” It was science for the non-scientific and was really a full year spent analyzing Stonehenge. With diagrams. I got hopelessly hooked on archaeology.

The almost spring-like backyard

I feel young every time I yell “FEW, NOT LESS” at a television announcer and downright youthful and cool when something new and fascinating is discovered about Stonehenge. I feel young because my jeans are too loose. I have to wear a belt to keep them from falling off. Having my pants fall off makes me feel young too, but not in a good way.

I feel young on days when I wash my hair and half of it doesn’t wind up in the drain. I feel young on days like today, when the air is warm and dry, and my bones don’t hurt. When I am able to navigate the stairs and still be breathing when I get to the top.

Birthday Hydrangea

I feel young until I realize that I can’t get life insurance (Note: They all say “no medical exam required” but if you mention that you’ve had heart surgery and cancer, it’s amazing how much they don’t want to give you insurance). This baffles me. Do people who have not had these issues live forever? The whole point of life insurance is to pay money to your selected beneficiaries when you die. Death is the expectation of “life insurance.” If they called it “death insurance,” it wouldn’t sell nearly as well. This way, we think that by buying it we are insuring our continued life. If only.

Garry is too old to get life insurance. I should be worried about who and how we will be buried since we don’t have burial insurance, but for some reason, I’m not worried. This is one of those issues I’m sure will work out, somehow. I assume we won’t be left to rot. Someone will do the job. We just don’t know who.

Tufted Titmouse
One of many, many Brown-headed Cowbirds who have found us

I don’t feel old, at least not in my brain. My body sometimes feels ancient, but it hasn’t felt a whole lot better than that for most of my life. My brain is still alive. I find the world hilarious when I’m not weeping over it. I hope to see these bad days disappear and better days come. Then I wonder if I will live that long? I might not.

From Garry’s birthday 2-years ago, these orchids grow each year in early April

I currently believe I will live forever because (a) I got vaccinated and am absolutely invulnerable to any and all diseases, and (b) I can’t imagine “not being.” That’s like knowing your memories aren’t real.

How can one “not be?” How does one remember what was remembered wrongly or utterly forgotten? How do I know I won’t live forever? Maybe I will. Maybe we all will. One way or another.

Age is not just a number, It’s definitely a number, but that number isn’t the answer to the equation. I’m not sure what the answer is. I guess I’ll know it when I see it. If you get a look at it before I do, give a shout. I’m madly curious.



Categories: Anecdote, Blackstone Valley, Flowers, Gardens, Health, landscape, Mental health, Nature, Photography, Vaccination

Tags: , , , , , ,

17 replies

  1. God, I hated parsing. We had to parse the poem “Daffodils” and I’ve hated those beautiful flowers ever since (and to this day, I can recite every single line of that poem from memory). Stupid teacher.

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    • How can you parse a poem? That’s bizarre. Poems don’t use normal speech. I was VERY lucky because Dr. Silver was a really interesting teacher who knew a million puns that he tossed into the lessons so while you were trying to figure out which clause was which, you were also giggling. That’s one of the reasons I remember him.

      I still can’t parse a sentence, but at least I know the difference between subject and object and can identify which parts of speech are which. Not that I really depend on grammar when I write, but at least I recognize the difference. Which is something as emojis are replacing written English.

      Like

      • Well, maybe that’s why no one in the class could do it properly – and this was an Honors class – and maybe why that teacher kept making us try every single day for the entire term. Needless to say, not the best teacher I ever had.

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  2. I can’t imagine not being either. Not being religious I don’t spend a lot of time wondering what happens after we die but it’s hard to imagine no existence and no thoughts.

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    • I’ve never not been here — at least not that I know about. Not counting being out for surgery which did sort of resemble being dead I suppose. So far, the concept of “not being” eludes me. I try to imagine not existing and of course, I can’t. You can’t think about when you can’t think anymore.

      Like

  3. I think what really matters is how we feel not how we look.

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    • If I used that as a gauge, I’d never get out of bed. I’ve been broken for my entire adult life. I think, more to the point, we need to have a raging case of curiosity that drives us to keep learning and changing 😎

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’ve done so well, overcoming odds and living a full life.

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        • I had a choice to make VERY early in my life. I was 19, had just had major (and unfortunately, badly done) spine surgery. It would turn out to be the second major surgery (the first when I was 14) of many that would follow. I knew others who’d had the same surgery and considered themselves disabled — and they were MY age, as in YOUNG.

          I decided I was not going to go that way. As long as my back would let me, I was going to do as I pleased. Eventually, as the arthritis built up, I had to stop doing almost all the active sports I loved, especially horseback riding — the one sport I really really loved — and hiking, which was part of the photography thing. I got very good at scrambling up small mountains with cameras and lenses and inevitably, the wrong shoes.

          I STILL miss riding and it has been more than 20 years since I gave it up. I didn’t have to give it up, actually. I could have ridden until I fell and wound up in a wheelchair. That didn’t seem a very good idea. I may not be as active as I want, but I am on my feet. Slowly and careful, but no in a chair. I do use a chair or a scooter when we are at amusement parks and places like that. I rent them. Actually Garry and I both rent them and we have a ball zipping in and around all those OTHER old people 😀

          Liked by 1 person

          • You are sensible in your life choices. I’d do the same if I face this choice. Do what you can with ease and make the best of it. I envy the people on scooters, zipping away and having fun. 💖

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  4. The daffodils here are old. I think they have come up all 42 years I have lived here. I didn’t plant them or do any care except many to clean up around them. The hostas are old. They come back every year. I have just spread them out or moved them around from time to time. I never plant them but we sure have a lot more now. There were two rose bushes when I moved in. One is still there. I cut it back to about 18 inches a few weeks ago. It is doing fine. The surgery was a success. With all these old things around me, I sometimes wonder if I am getting old too.

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    • I planted the roses when we first moved in and I wish I hadn’t. They’ve been trying to kill me for 20 years. Actually, except for one ancient lilac tree (it’s way past bush) and the biggest forsythia hedge I’ve ever seen, that disastrous garden is all my fault.

      Yes, we ARE getting old, but need I point out — we are still alive so many others are gone? I sort of hang onto that. Because being dead is definitely worse.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. In the past, when people would ask me how old I was, I would reply “Ageless.”
    It is true to a degree. I am many ages. I still retain many childhood memories, starting from less than two years old on up to ninety-four years now. I wish I could say I was wiser with the years, but the more years I accrue, the more I realize how litle I know about the world or are likely to know now. Age is a number. Some people are ever young. Some are old from childhood. Perhaps age is simply state of mind.

    Like

    • I feel younger in warmer weather. Not hot. Warm. Sun shining and nothing hurts. I have no major worries crushing me except the standard stuff. The flowers are beginning to bloom.

      It’s all perspective and context. One of the problems I have with memory is that what was a big issue when it happened because a speck of dust as the years advanced. I change my mind, I revive my perspective. Like you, the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know and will never know.

      The great thing is that knowing everything isn’t important. Probably it never was. I have a lot of trouble figuring out why I was such a fruitcake when I was younger.

      Like

  6. Hmm.. This is a really interesting and thought provoking article. What is old? Sometimes I feel young and energetic, other days I feel old and knackered. I remember when I was young thinking 25 was old and people were grown up by that stage but upon reaching that milestone I was not nearly as “grown up” as I thought I would be. Nearly a decade on I’m still not sure if I’m a grown up or not. Thanks for sharing. KL ❤

    Like

    • When I was in my 20s, I had friends in their 50s (which definitely sounded OLD). I asked them how they knew when they were officially “grown up.” They said they’d let me know if it ever happened. For me, I think grown up happened sometime around the arrival of my first social security check — and my granddaughter being older than I was when my son was born!

      Like

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