The path meandered more than he remembered but he was the first to admit his memory was never his strongest suit. It didn’t help that he had consumed two margaritas at lunch, and even he didn’t believe the excuse that this was a slow day for him, still sober at two in the afternoon. But he wandered the path, for that is what paths were there for he was certain. He had no idea where he was going, and realized that he would have no idea when he got there. Still he had great faith in mathematics, that was his training, his brilliance,such as it was, and he knew that if he merely wandered aimlessly without thinking, he would eventually cross his own path, bump into his former self and they, together, could devise a plan to find their way precisely they were intended to be.
On the razor edge of dreams the periphery of consciousness a face appears, and I am left to wonder who this person is, who he might be. At first he is a child with a pixie cut, a bowl placed over the head, the bangs cut without considering the face peering out and others peering in. But, as sleep washing the last sands of consciousness out to the sea of Morpheus, the face morphs and it is Science Officer Spock who is peering back at me, his ears pointed to the heavens reminding me, as I slip into Morpheus’ orbit that I can yet live long and prosper.
It’s a question of faith. You have to have some even if you doubt it, in fact your doubt is proof you have faith if only in doubt, for you know you cannot prove doubt, you just cling to it as a matter of faith. Your faith need not be religious though much of faith is, it can be philosophical or whimsical if you prefer. It can be most anything unless you are certain of everything in which case you are immortal, on death’s doorstep or simply a fool.
We are, he is convinced, devolving into verbal neanderthals, losing are ability to recognize the linguistic tools that once set us apart from other species, or at least so we assured ourselves. She knows that what truly sets us apart from other species is the arcane skill we have at being able to convince ourselves that delusion, firmly held, is fact. Still, she cannot disagree with him, simplicity is a too close cousin to inanity, and nuance is the first relative to be cast out. And so with ever fewer words, we seem to have ever more to say, and speaking endlessly, say ever less.
The hardest age by far is the one where you are stuck in the middle, children below, parents above, and utterly no hope of escape from the vise. Things your mother could do effortlessly now seem impossible for her, and those things now need doing immediately. Your children, ever wise at creating novel approaches to anything they want in life regardless of your opinion, suddenly cannot perform the simple tasks they once could, more so if the task takes them away from whatever is their pleasure of the moment. It is this middle period where you cease to live, at least to live fully, taken with tasks above and below, and only in the rare spare moment can you contemplate the tasks you will no longer be able to do as soon as your children cease to be a burden and can be one
Aunt Tzipporah hated her name, detested it really, came closer to the truth. “What the hell were my parents thinking?” she said, “like being Jewish in West Virginia isn’t going to be hard enough. On a good day I got away with being Zippy, but you try spending your Junior year in high school hearing “Hey Zipper” or having some jerk come up to you, cigarette dangling from his lip and saying, “hey, Zippo, got a light?” and you can guess why getting out of state to college, any college, was something I wanted so badly.” I told my aunt I fully understood, and she smiled, “I guess you do. It couldn’t be a party going through life with the name Shadrach Shamnansky.
It should be more of a surprise, on this day that you turn ninety but the mirror, as you see it, has you looking as you did twenty two years earlier, and twenty before that, unchanging in any meaningful way, yet those around you laugh when you tell them what you believe.
Not a day over sixty-eight you say, and time to go off and write for an hour, then the three mile walk, a shower, some physical therapy for . . . well one of the joints which has osteoarthritis, and a salad, heavy on the greens for lunch.
Nothing much has changed in your mind, and when you awaken from the dream, see your sixty-eight year old face in the mirror, you only wish you could see the younger face that only dreams allow, but time outside of dreams is always, unfortunately, unforgiving.
It is difficult explaining to a child, even one who has reached the age of 40, that you once knew all there was to know. They are certain they know more than you, and they know all there is to know so, a fortiori, you could not know all that there is to know, period. They will say this with a certain smugness born, they believe, of the knowledge that they know quite everything. But there is still a perverse pleasure in watching their smugness collapse like a house of cards in a storm, when you remind them that there was so much less to know when you knew everything, and so it will be for their children when the reckoning comes.
The great minds in Transportation have decided that the answer to all traffic problems is simple, you replace troublesome intersections with traffic circles, but you call them roundabouts. They know that the young and wish they were in their muscle cars will avoid them like the plague, for even they cannot defeat centrifugal force, and inertia is one thing they never lack. And for the old, the plodding, either they won’t enter the circle, or will revolve around its center like a small planet bound tightly to its star marking the center, and then only after they have paused for an indeterminite period, trying to figure out how to get in, where to get out and wishing they had called Uber to begin with. And I, behind them know, I can take this time to get in a day’s meditation counting my breath.