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, July 8, 2018

Muddling through

Good morning! I have been looking for some place I could use this drawing, and today I decided it would be on this post. I like the image of the seed breaking open and putting down all those roots into the fertile ground. It reminds me that nothing dies without another life being born from it. And that is true, even if it's a "weed" that carries on, popping up from the small cracks in pavement, on its way to reducing the pavement, eventually, back into dirt.

Today is one of those days when nothing comes to mind to write about. I woke up in the middle of the night wondering what would happen if I just didn't even attempt a blog post, but that didn't last long. I've been doing this without a break since 2009, so I'm going to muddle through today.

When I first get up and make a cup of tea and carry my laptop back into bed to start my Sunday, I make a quick pass through the news before starting. I also read any new blogs from my friends that showed up in my Reader overnight. There were only a few, so here I am without much direction from that front, but I just learned that the rescuers in Thailand have begun to take out the 12 trapped boys and their soccer coach from that dark cave. Two of them are safe. This attempt has captured the attention of the entire world. At first I thought with all the help to rescue them would be easy, but then that young rescuer died, and I began to fear for all their lives. I pray for the safety of them all. Apparently it's got to be done right now, because the monsoon rains will fill up their escape route at any moment. And those boys don't even know how to swim!

I am not a fan of caves and would never have done what those boys did. Or perhaps I would have, if peer pressure had caused me to feel it necessary to go along with the others. I remember long ago visiting Carlsbad Caverns and going down the walkway deep into the ground to a central room in what felt like the center of the earth. I could feel the weight of the rocks over my head and was very glad to emerge into the sunlight after that. I think I suffer from a little claustrophobia that only shows up now and then. And my imagination does a great job of putting me in that cave with those young boys.

I guess we all have to live with our fears and phobias, which differ from each other. I'm sure that standing on the outside of an airplane two miles from the ground would trigger many people's anxiety, but for me it is liberating. I can still feel the exhilaration I felt as I climbed outside, waiting for the other skydivers to get into position so that we could all let go at once. It's been a long time ago, but the feeling still lives on when I recall my skydiving adventures. Give me the sky and plenty of air, the opposite of those caves, anytime.

There was a time, long ago, when I couldn't even imagine making a skydive. I was well into my late forties when I finally made that fateful tandem jump, older than most skydivers are when they are finished with their jumping careers. And then, to my surprise, I felt the need to go again and again. I couldn't get enough of the feeling of being in freefall, and now I have accumulated well over 68 hours of time in that wonderful place. I wish I could describe to you what it feels like to be flying through the air, looking around at your fellow playmates hooking up to make a formation. It's magical. I'm sure if I had the proper gear (which I sold in 2015) I could still make a skydive, but nothing calls me in that direction very strongly these days. After all, I must carefully pick and choose my activities at this point in my life, so that I can continue to play in the outdoors during these later years.

When I turned 75, the first several days after my birthday I would wake up and the first thing that I'd remember is that: I am 75 now. I won't ever be any younger than three-quarters of a century. Who knows what the future holds? One thing I know is that my time here on earth is limited. Of course, this is always true, but milestones give me a chance to reflect on what has passed, what has changed, and what lies ahead. I have had a fulfilling life, and if I died today, there is little I've left undone that I wanted to accomplish.

I feel very fortunate to have the circle of friends that I have, my family members and my dear partner to share these later years with. And wonder of wonders, the internet has brought many delightful people into my life and given me a chance to expand my horizons well beyond the borders of my own country. I've got friends all over the world who mean as much to me as any "skin" friends I have, and I look forward to hearing what's going on in your lives, being happy and sad with you, as you do with me.

This will not be one of those posts that everyone thanks me for, I suspect, because it's not really inspired. Sometimes the magic works, and sometimes it doesn't. But I will be here again next week, God willing, and I'll hopefully have something more profound in here. Until then, I'll leave you with one of my very favorite pieces I discovered years ago:
Life is not a journey to the grave
With the intention of
Arriving safely in a pretty
And well preserved body,
But rather to skid in broadside,
Thoroughly used up,
Totally worn out,
And loudly proclaiming,
WOW !!!! What a ride!
Be well until we meet again next week, dear friends.


Marty Damon said...

You always cause me to pause, even if just for a moment, to think. This post reminded me of my earlier thought, before any of the boys were rescued, that life isn't a TV drama - it isn't fore-ordained that this will have a happy ending. And I so I shared your relief that some of the boys are already out.

christina neumann said...

Lovely post and so true. I enjoyed your take on getting older. Sometimes I think, wow, how did I get here? but life is a journey of many things. Carpe diem!

Gigi said...

As of right now, (as I'm sure you've already heard) 4 of the boys are out. And that is truly a miracle and everyone in this house is praying that they are all rescued safely.

Love that quote! Have a great week!!

Linda Reeder said...

I woke up to the 7:30 radio news and heard that four boys have now been rescued. That gives me hope that all will be safe soon.
I have never been a physical risk taker. Given my introversion, most of life has been a risk for me, and I am pleased with what I have been able to achieve. Now my goal is to keep moving, keep thinking rationally, and see my grandchildren reach adulthood. Most days, life is good, and I feel blessed with it.
I like that quote too. We will be fortunate if we get to that place where we are "used up".

Tabor said...

I used to SCUBA dive years (decades) ago and have done a small dive in a South Pacific cave. We stirred up so much mud that you could barely see and we had to be very tight with our body movements. I cannot imagine how terrifying it would be to be miles in from sunlight and only muddy water to view.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

I think this was a very good post as I am currently dealing with two elderly family me,bers acroos town who have mentally given up their desire to be active, eat healthy and enjoy their last years and they have no finacial stress. The have made their hoyse their cave where theu just hang onfor fate to take them , Depression has taken a stronghold. Their kids are stuck unable to help them change their course.
I too wish those boys a successful exir. I pray the trauma will not hold them back. It sadeness me that adults led such young inexperience into a nightmare. Have a great weak. Buddy and I are up for BD celebration , the first already happened yesterday.

Rian said...

The predicament those young boys are in is heart wrenching. I can't imagine. I have also been in caves in both Tennessee and the hill country of Texas and although interesting, not my thing. And I agree that although I've never sky dived, I would consider it over being under water... especially in a cave underground. So many people are praying for them I can only hope they will get them all out safely.
As for being the age we are (in our 70's), it's a different mind set knowing that your days are numbered (not they aren't always, but more certainly at this point). So I may not "skid in broadside" but my age certainly does affect the choices I make these days.
And I do believe that energy never dies, it just changes form. So I imagine there's another adventure awaiting...

Hilary said...

That is also one of my favorites.......and appropos, as everyone keeps telling me to stop weaving, stop doing this, stop doing that...and maybe my headaches will get better. And maybe hell will freeze right over too......I am not going to be a slug for any reason......and to stop doing what I love, to stop being me.....well, what's the point????? Though I have never jumped from a plane, I would choose that over a cave any day.....went to Howe Caverns years ago, still makes me shiver.

Elephant's Child said...

As always, your post caused me (and others) to stop and think. Thank you for that.
And yes, I hope to be still skidding at the end. And have certainly enjoyed most of my ride.
Have a wonderful week.

Arkansas Patti said...

I was an ocean scuba diver years ago but can't even imagine a cave dive. When the retired seal lost his life, I really feared for those boys, most of whom can't swim, are malnourished and weak. What chance did they have? That 4 have made it makes my heart soar. Life is good.

Far Side of Fifty said...

You will be skidding in at the end for sure! Made me smile. It has been a week of bad news; cancer, kidney failure, old age, problems with alcohol, marriage problems...none of which I am personally involved with but have to watch the aftermath...that is what you get with a large family...lots of drama. For the moment, Far Guy, Chance and I are okay...the rest will have to muddle through the best they can. We can be supportive and pray. Prayers I think are the best, God can decide the rest of it.
I picked some raspberries last night and thought of you:)

Red said...

Okay, you would not get me in a cave unless it's a big one. I've been down 4000 feet in a mine. that was okay. I'm okay with heights. I would jump with you but I'm too old now.

Marie Smith said...

To “skid in...used up...worn out.” I have always loved those words. To give everything to each experience would fit the bill. To be willing to try new things as well I imagine.

You had me soaring through the skies with you Jan. I don’t think I could ever do it now but who knows. I see stories every so often about seniors trying skydiving for the first time. Maybe not that but I am going to try kayaking tomorrow, something I’ve always wanted to do.

You imspire me as always Jan! Take care. Have a great week.

Rob and Trish MacGregor said...

As always, your insightful Sunday posts are wonderful! Love that piece you ended with, too. Have a great week!

Rita said...

I LOVE that poem!!

I get a bit claustrophobic sometimes, too. I still remember being in Crystal Cave in Wisconsin when they turned out the lights to let you see what true blackness is. *shudder* I have never forgotten that and I have thought of it with these boys stuck in the caves. Awk! It really bothers me that a supposedly responsible grown adult took them down there in the first place, to be honest.

I'm not a jumping out of the air person, either. Have a touch of vertigo, too--and afraid of going too fast. I guess I'm a boring feet-on-the-ground type of person--LOL! But I did things other people were afraid of--like picking up and moving with ten dollars and a sick baby from a man who said we were the stone around his neck. I am more emotionally brave than physically, I think. But less so the older I get. I think I'm reaching the worn out part. But I loved every minute and gave it my all. ;)

Your Sunday posts have always been my favorites. Make me feel like we're chatting over coffee about life and sorrow and all good things. So glad to be one of your non-skin friends. ;)

Mary said...

I love the poem as well. Also love blogs to be able to connec with like minded people. It's a wonderful world out there when you find the right people!

Dee said...

Dear DJan, the morning's news is that all 12 of the boys got out. It all could have ended so tragically, but with people all over the world sending their best thoughts and prayers and visualizations a strong bond was formed with those right there helping. The Thai seals and all the others. If only we could see that our country right now is in the midst of a possible tragedy, perhaps we here could pull together and effect a change from the racist view of "them" and "us" that so many are espousing right now in our country. It makes me sob inside.

Like you, I embrace the milestones of aging. I look back to all that has worked out to good--and all has--and I trust that as the future unfolds all shall be good for me and for the Universe. But oh, that trust is being severely tested right now. Peace.

Linda Myers said...

I'm okay with caves, but not with heights. I have a big birthday coming up in September and cannot believe I have so many chronological years. Still going and doing, though, for as long as I'm able and interested.

C-ingspots said...

I agree with your sentiments about caves, much preferring the light of day and plenty of fresh air. Heights are a funny one for me. I'm scared silly on a skinny trail looking down into a deep gorge and actually get dizzy and short of breath and can't move. But - up high were I knew if I fell, I'd die - no worries, just pure exhileration. (spelling?) Strange huh?

I do love that poem! So true, but with all our might we fight it. Enjoy the summer DJan!

Sally said...

I like the quote/poem you used very much, but I can’t say that it applies to me that well. I am not a risk taker when it comes to physical activity, but I guess I am when it comes to standing up for what I believe in.

Some days it is hard to be inspired when it comes to writing, but I think you always leave a grain of inspiration.