Rendered Fat Content


Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn: Bust of an Old Man with a Beard (circa 1630)
" … mending doors might teach me all I need to know …"

I went from being a man of modest middle age to an elder in a single day, the day I turned seventy, a day which might well have lived in infamy as long as it lived, which was the usual brief twenty-four hours. How should I have responded? I very cleverly pretended that nothing had changed, but only because nothing had changed. I didn't need to pretend because I couldn't see any difference between who I'd been the night before and who I found in my skin the next morning. Yet there I was, clearly within elder territory but without a clue about what I was supposed to do to fulfill my new role's responsibilities, which, I note, were foisted upon me without my consent, just like middle age's had been foisted upon me, and fatherhood's, and adulthood's, even teen-age's. I know how this works. It starts with no discernible difference and ends in denial of even the more obvious changes, a slow fading forward, a one-way road toward oblivion.

The older, the more precarious the balance, the more conservative one becomes.
I take fewer chances. I quit my nicotine habit in anticipation of it finally catching up with me once I started moving more slowly. I know I'm a sitting duck, anyway, prone to ever more of the frailties accompanying the human condition. I do not feel old, but the calendar seems insistent. There's never been a place in the history of this world so far, except, perhaps, in long ago Old Testament times, when seventy was considered young. And so it is today, even with all the advancements in science and medicine, three score and ten remains nearer the end than the beginning. No, as they say, Spring Chicken, I'm an old bird now.

I watched myself prepping a door for painting and thought that I might cut the proper shadow. Bent over my work, sanding out moulding and pulling a small sharp chisel to help coax loose a reluctant slice of moribund paint seemed like a decent start at Eldering. It might be that whatever I do at this august age amounts to proper Eldering behavior, for a man my age should have grown beyond asking for permissions or checking checklists before behaving. My granddaughter TheGrandOther clearly thinks I'm crazy as well as irrelevant. I watch her make the same mistakes I made at her age, presuming time was infinite and leaving unasked questions, even refusing well-intended clues and answers. I presumed I knew what I couldn't have possibly known. I feared disclosing my ignorance lest I be found out, when I couldn't quite figure myself out then. Still haven't.

I doubt that there are any Eldering experts to ask how I'm supposed to go about this. I was once a consultant myself and presumed to know better for others. I gratefully outgrew that all too human tendency to want to create others in my own image. I came to prefer surprise behaviors, approaches which seemed some mix of crazy and extraordinary, inspired, divinely or more crudely, unique. I see that I cannot model my dotage upon any other. I'll mend my doors then see what comes up next. Having accomplished nothing in this life, I have no reputation to defend, no good name to protect. I sense a growing irrelevance approaching where nobody except The Muse really cares what I'm doing, like TheGrandOther has perhaps wisely prepared me to experience. I sense that mending doors might teach me all I need to know about Eldering. I doubt I'd listen to anyone else, especially given the current state of my hearing.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus

Made in RapidWeaver