I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Time traveling

Mountains from Canyon Ridge last Thursday
I woke up in the middle of the night with this Bob Dylan phrase in my head:
Ah, but I was so much older then
I'm younger than that now
 And of course since we live in the internet age, I was able to find all the lyrics to the entire song, one called "My Back Pages" on an album I must have heard ages ago. I know I smiled when I heard that phrase, because it reminded me of how much I thought I knew once long ago, before it became obvious that the young pedantic girl who thought she knew everything would be learning life's hard lessons.

I remember sitting at the dinner table (before I left home at eighteen) and imparting to my parents some piece of knowledge that I thought they didn't already know, thinking it was my duty to enlighten them. Oh, I was definitely so much older then. Today I realize how very little I really know about life and about love. I know I loved my parents very much and when I let myself, I can miss them both terribly. It's been decades since we sat around that table and now I only have the remembrance of those long-ago days.

Yesterday was the thirteenth anniversary of the day my son Chris died. I thought of him often during the day, remembering him as a young boy and also as a grown man. He had left the country when he joined the Army and had married and settled down in Germany, so I hadn't seen him for a couple of years when he died of a heart attack. I traveled there for the funeral and saw him one last time in a glass-covered casket, dressed in his uniform. It took more than a year before any other images of Chris would surface when I thought of him, but today I only remember the good times we had together, and the images of him as a child stand out in memory. He was a beautiful person, and every once in awhile he still visits me in my dreams. He always appears as a boy around ten or so, just before puberty, and there are times when we spend what seems like hours together on some adventure or other. Those dreams make me feel as though he's close by, easy to reach across the veil.

Although the passage of time is so incremental that change doesn't often show itself on a daily basis, as I've grown older I see the wisdom in keeping photographs that allow me to mark the changes in my loved ones and in myself. Not that I need all that much reminding about my own personal aging process, since it's obvious that the young girl I once was is no longer present. There is something very different about having turned seventy; there is no longer even a little bit of that young girl hanging around. It's perfectly okay to have become invisible when I walk down the street, no longer an object of youth and beauty. I don't miss it, but sometimes my eye alights on a young beautiful creature and I remember that I was once like that too. I can delight in the youth and beauty of others and feel glad.

There is a sense of self-consciousness that has also left, along with my youth. When I was growing up, I suffered from stage fright and simply hated to be forced to stand in the front of the class and be singled out from the others. Just thinking about it makes my cheeks turn red and I can feel the sense of dread that I felt. But somehow or other, that changed as I grew older. As an instructor for several years, I remember wondering at the beginning if I would be able to teach without embarrassment, but I learned that if I had knowledge to impart that was necessary for the student to learn, there was no fear at all. I suppose that if I were not prepared for it, and for some reason I was singled out in a classroom setting today, it might return, but I wonder. I am still quite conscious of myself, but it's different now.

It's true that I expose my own personal self in ways I never thought I could, right here in this blog. I write about my innermost thoughts and feelings, my fears and joys, and there is no sense that someone might be able to hurt me with that knowledge. Of course, there are things I could write about that I choose not to, for the simple reason that I know that anybody in the world with this web address can read what I write here, and some people might be offended and choose to attack me because of my beliefs. I've seen it happen to others and I protect myself as well as I can from them by not writing about sex, politics, or religion. Although I don't at this time see a need to use it, I'm glad that Blogspot gives me the option to review comments before they are posted.

And about time traveling: when I think back just a decade or two ago about what I might have thought would become obsolete in today's world, I would have been completely wrong. The advent of the internet and the digital age has changed everything. I read recently that DVDs and CDs are soon to become a thing of the past, as we are moving towards streaming everything. Kodak and film cameras are gone, and encyclopedias and dictionaries are now on line. When I leave the house, I put a small computer called a smartphone in my pocket and have the entire digital world available to me as I walk around and carry out my daily life. What a world!

And back to the world around me. Now that I have traveled through time, I stop and look around: the laptop with its tapping keys as I write, the empty teacup beside me on the nightstand, and of course my dear partner still sleeping beside me. It's Sunday morning again, and here I am beginning my day with my only self-imposed task almost finished. I've returned to the present, and as I think of you, my dear readers, I am filled with a sense of joy and gratitude for the life I am able to live today, right here, right now. I know it will change, but for now, we are together. I give thanks every day for the chance to know you through this amazing exchange we are privileged to share. I send you my sincere wish for you to have a week filled with adventure and joy.

17 comments:

gigihawaii said...

Whenever I think of you I say to myself, "DJan is so stable." You rarely deviate from your self-imposed schedule, whereas I tend to be erratic. Lol.

I am glad you find benefits in blogging, because without your blog, how would I have ever met you?

Linda Reeder said...

It's too bad we can't have the wisdom of age along with the energy of youth. In many ways I was "older" then too.
I call it passion that has allowed me to take the stage and act in leadership rolls, something I did quite regularly at the end of my career, but never did before the age of 40. You described this sharing of knowledge very well.
We have a Sounders game in Seattle this afternoon. I just learned that Jill is bringing the kids and we'll go down to the waterfront after the game for exploring and dinner. Tom and I just finished our 3.5 mile daily walk. My week is off to a good start.
Happy week to you too.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

It is wonderful, I think, that Chris visits you in your dreams and that you wake with the feeling of having spent time with him. I think you are able to keep yourself open to others in this world and whatever world we may pass into.

My Back Pages has always been a favorite song, and I sing it fairly often, exaggerating the nasal "no-o-o-o-ow." I, too, was "so much older then." Dylan gave us a wonderful phrase for thinking about that process, and maybe for remembering to feel youthful now. In the words of another of Bob's songs, may you be Forever Young.

Elephant's Child said...

Oh yes. My arrogant younger self knew almost everything too.
As the years go by and I grow into myself I am so grateful that there is still so much to learn.
I hope love and laughter find you this week. And every week.

Linda Myers said...

The older I get, the less I know. Not a bad thing.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I am thankful that your memories of Chris are good ones! Every anniversary, birthday and holiday must be very hard for you.

Wouldn't it be fun if our older selves could just have ten minutes with our younger selves:)

Red said...

Memories of those we've lost come flooding back on special days. It's good that you can remember the good times. In the mirror I see a handsome 75 year old!!! In my head is a rebellious teenager. There seems to be a bit of a split here. I was also very self conscious but once you start teaching that disappears forever. I hope you had a great day.

Arkansas Patti said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arkansas Patti said...

What a blessing to have Chris visit you as you rest. I know you must treasure those moments.
I was terrified of public speaking as a youth and am only a wee bit less so today. Hopefully I won't be put in that situation. Good for you overcoming it.
I would never want my younger mind with its lack of confidence and experience but I wouldn't turn down the body.

The Furry Gnome said...

Enjoy visiting you every Sunday!

Rhapsody said...

Blessings......
Oh boy do I certainly know that feeling, thinking you know everything only to look back and see you knew nothing of what you thought you knew. When I think of some of the things I did as a youth I cringe and say, 'what were you thinking.' I use to also think I wanted to know everything about a person, (its how I measured my value) I have since learnt to understand my worth and comprehend that there is wisdom in not knowing everything!

I am sorry for the loss of your son. I don't think you ever get over the death of a loved one, you simply learn to accept and go on albeit at times grudgingly. Though there are times when their love is visited upon you and you have to just pause and be in that moment, take it in, ruminate a little as it ebbs and flows and then passes then you shake yourself and keep it moving again.

Writing, it is subjective and there is bound to be someone who is offended for one reason or another. We all have very diverse views of the world, the people in it and their methods of governance, judgments, tolerance and intolerances. When we encounter those with polar opposite views it is not to attack or bash them over the head for it, it is to understand their perspective, why they think what they think and understand that it is ok to disagree because understanding is more paramount. Many of us may never leave our front steps to travel the world to open our eyes to the realities that would shake our core believes on any given subject, the next best thing is sharing through dialogue, blogging, writing that we may see the world as is and not as we pretend it to be. Diversity in our physical being, thoughts, words, and action is a beautiful even if views are worlds apart.

have a blessed day.
Sorry I wrote a book in response didn't I?
*sigh*....sometimes the juices just flows.

Rhapsody

Rian said...

DJan, I was into Bob Dylan's songs too.

And as for the world and aging... progress while good in many ways is not always good in others. There's a balance to be kept and keeping it is not easy. I see this in technology (which can be absolutely wonderful in saving people's lives - and can be devastating in destruction). There's also beauty in the aging process in some ways (our minds mature and expand) but our bodies do also. Luckily with age also comes acceptance and hopefully gratitude that we've made it this far.

Also - I'm so glad that you get visits from Chris. I do believe that he is close by.

Gigi said...

I'm so glad that Chris visits you in your dreams; I imagine that must be a comfort.

My mother told me years ago to never discuss money, religion or politics. This bit of advice has served me well. Yes, I have strong opinions in each of those areas - but it's not my place to try to change someone else's opinions. I'd say it's best just to leave those topics off the table; particularly these days.

Have a wonderful week, DJan!

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

I love that Dylan song. Your posts are all terrific, DJan, but I feel I have come to know you through your Sunday posts. This one is just beautiful.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, This post caused me to reflect back on my years teaching high school. I remember being a little nervous when talking to a big class of 30 students or so back when I first started. By the time I retired it never affected me. Another thing I remember from those years was how those 16, 17, and 18-year-olds often were quite a bit smarted and knew much more than anyone older than they were. Kind of like they were at the pinnacle of life's knowledge. It sure makes me smile now thinking about all they had to learn. I love the way your weekly posts get me reflecting on things like this. Thank you, as always, for sharing. PS Linda Myers comment: "The older I get, the less I know. Not a bad thing." Now that is something to think about! :-)

amanda | wildly simple said...

I so enjoy absorbing bits of your experiences and wisdom, DJan.
Thank you so much for sharing them with us.

Retired English Teacher said...

You always give us so much to think about. Yes, I was so much older then too. I still feel young and naive at times, but also I have much more wisdom. Before, I think it was a knowledge about things that I thought I had. Wisdom comes from experience.

I know the feeling of those dreams that include the child we lost. I have the most wonderful dreams of Julie. I think I always have a sense of wonder when she comes to visit. I know it is unreal and yet it feels so real and wonderful. I think many times we have adventures also. I find she often has dogs with her when she visits me in dreams. I never can remember the exact happenings, but there is a sense of joy and gratitude that sometimes stays with me throughout the next day.

Sending you hugs as you remember the dear son you lost. He belonged to another time. Now he is not bound by time. Time is such as mystery. Time changes us outwardly. Time gives us experiences that give us wisdom. Yet, inside, I feel time has not touched me as much as one might think. I still feel young and am shocked when I see that I am not.