|From Mother Jones interview of Ellar Coltrane|
The link under the picture is an interview with Ellar, and it's very interesting to learn how different the life of Mason (the boy in the movie) was from Ellar's. What got me, however, is how closely the story of Mason's mother followed my own: his mother divorced his dad and then got involved in a series of unfortunate liaisons, as I did. However, the movie ends on a high note, and the sold-out audience applauded as the credits rolled.
Twelve years is both a long time but in the span of an entire life, not all that long. Nonetheless, the period between being a cute kid of six and becoming an adult (if eighteen can be considered adult) is incredibly fraught with change. I have been fortunate to have met young Leo at the coffee shop when he was six months old, and in a few months he will turn six. He's at about the same age that Mason was at the beginning of the movie. I can't help but wonder what kind of an adult he will be, although I probably won't be around him at the time to find out. I might still be alive (and 84), but who knows where he or I will be in twelve years?
It was twelve years ago that my son Chris died in Germany. I could not have anticipated that, or the trajectory my life would take. Outwardly, not that much changed; I continued in the same job and lived in the same town during those years. I was already married to my life partner, and he helped me through that awful period where I would wake every night, crying, unable to believe Chris was gone. That seems a long time ago now, but I still think about him and wonder how he would have matured into a middle-aged man. It's startling to realize how old one's child is getting to be. My sister is going through that now with her son, who just turned 48.
But inside, I've changed a lot in those twelve years. I loved my job and felt very fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to different places and arrange conferences all over the world. There were days when I'd arrive at the office before 7:00am and not leave until ten hours later, and I'd be totally engrossed in my work and not notice the passage of time. And then on the weekends I would dash off to the Drop Zone to teach a First Jump Course and spend that day and the next skydiving with students. I was really, really busy all the time. It was rare for me to take a day off, and I would realize I didn't know what to do with myself if my busy life changed for some reason.
But that frenetic pace began to wear on me as I grew older. It wasn't easy to decide what needed to change, but I was fortunate that my partner and I were able to communicate our wants and needs to each other, and a plan for retirement began to emerge. In 2006, two years before I retired from my job, we took a month-long road trip from Colorado to the west coast, to decide where we might want to live next. We had researched several places on the internet and were curious to see if Bellingham looked as good in real life as it did electronically. And yes, it did. We decided to use it as our "jumping-off place," and once we had actually moved away from Boulder, we could move again if we felt like it, and it wouldn't be nearly as wrenching as the first time.
We are still here, and my life has settled into a very satisfying routine. I have had the chance to slow down, read more, and spend quality time with my friends, much of that outdoors in the very different environment of the Pacific Northwest. I've grown familiar with all the different kinds of rain we have here: from a light mist to a downpour. We don't get a drenching rain often, but it does happen. Moving from the semi-arid landscape of Colorado to the rainforest of the Pacific Northwest has been a delightful learning experience. And it's changed me in some concrete ways, too: I have grown accustomed to milder temperatures, and when it climbs above the high 70s, I begin to feel too hot. I like the indoor temperature to be much cooler than I once did.
I no longer own any dress-up clothes, and the cargo pants look suits me just fine at this phase of my life. When I dress for the day, I realize I've grown fond of vests and wear them year round. Every pair of shoes I own are functional ones with low heels. There was a time when I loved to dress up and apply makeup, giving myself an entirely different look. These days makeup makes my face look a little strange (to me at least), although when I was working I never left the house without it. More habits changed without noticing, and suddenly I'm a different person than I was, much like those pictures of the boy morphing into a man. But it's so imperceptible, day to day, that one doesn't much notice the procession of years. It's usually a picture from the past that will remind me how much change has taken place.
As my outward pace has slowed down, my internal life has grown larger. The time I spend thinking about things, about life, about writing in this blog, for instance, takes more of my focus than it once did. The blogs I follow, with the lives of my virtual friends giving me a different perspective on life, are incredibly important to me. I learn how others are coping with change in their lives, and it gives me ideas and thoughts I would not have had access to otherwise. I am a very plugged-in senior, and I like it very much.
It's almost 7:00am and my tea is gone. Partner still sleeping next to me, and the sun would be up already if it weren't overcast. I hear blue jays scolding outside the window and the occasional call of a crow. All the songbirds I heard earlier in the spring and summer seem to have diminished to just a few now and then. I guess it's getting to be the time when they look towards the cooler weather and find other places to hang out. Today I'll take it slow and easy, and enjoy the book I picked up at the library yesterday. Maybe go out for a walk, or maybe not. I've exercised every day this week and could probably use a break. But I always feel better, more centered, when I've had at least a nice walk. Whatever I decide, it's really nice to know I've got the choice, and that everything in my body still works pretty well, for now at least.
Be well, my dear friends, and I hope you will enjoy your own life as it is right here, right now. For it will definitely change as time goes by. Until next Sunday, then.