|Early March winter scene|
The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.Only ten years separate me from eighty, but the progression from my youth has been gradual, so gradual that I mark the days and years with amazement. It's definitely true that as I look backwards through my life, it seems impossible that the twenty-year-old mother I was then is the same Me of today.
Before I had reached my first score of years, I had married and given birth to my first son, and I felt that I was an adult who knew everything. I looked at old people like they were from another planet. I would NEVER be that old, I thought. It seemed that the person I had become was the person I would be from then on. Change comes on little cat feet, like fog.
Remember that Carl Sandburg poem? (The fog comes on little cat feet. It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches and then moves on.) That's the way the imperceptible change that brought me from young mother to old woman has been. Silent and invisible, touching my life and moving on. And now here I sit, pondering my Sunday morning post, and thinking about all those years and how I got here, where I am today.
I'm happy with my life, glad that I still have the ability to play on the earth, although there are many modifications I've had to make as the years go by. I can no longer run, since my knees won't take the pounding any more, but I did run for more than thirty years. I have learned to be more careful with my aging body, although I stretch myself to the limit, in order to find what that limit is in the present moment. Tomorrow it might be different, I know. But I don't live in tomorrow; I am alive and breathing right now. I'm not ready to fly away quite yet.
When I was a young woman, I was afraid of dying. Once I realized that life is fragile and there are no guarantees of any kind, I spent many nights thinking of the inevitable end of life, not knowing whether I would ever get the chance to grow old, or even if I would live through the night. And as I lost loved ones through illness and accident, I stopped concentrating on my own mortality. That fear that came on little cat feet, looking at life on its silent haunches, moved on.
If you are still young, you may not yet realize how the passage of years can mellow a person. Although I am not looking forward to the end of my life, the fact that I've been blessed with so many good years, even decades, of a full life, has given me a breadth of understanding that I could not have even imagined at twenty. There is something about the simple fact of living that has changed my outlook and given me a sense of peace about the way things are.
I hear birds singing, and the dawn is coming earlier and earlier now. Spring is only a few weeks away, and the crocus and daffodils are making their way through the earth. The long winter is releasing its grip, and we begin the journey into summer. Observing the march of the seasons is one of my favorite pursuits, and it helps me to remember that although nothing stays the same forever, today and this moment is enough. In fact, it is really the only thing we have, this everlasting instant in time.