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Francisco de Goya, Saturno devorando a su hijo [Saturn devours his son], (1819-1823)
"The more I've experienced, the less I understand."

Birthdays increasingly become subdued celebrations as I age. A passing embrace, a few quick questions asking what they might do for me, an overwhelming number of Facebook greetings, each unexpected, of course, and each relished as a slightly embarrassing excess. I register my appreciation in a sort of passing because I do not feel as though aging or even counting ages accomplishes anything. I spent the day feeling rather full of myself, greatly gifted by the virtual presences surrounding me and I fear a little too off-putting to those closer to home. I find attempts at celebrating at root unnecessary. They elicit little more than sincere 'aw shuckses' from me, which might mean that I'm finally entering that inevitable stage of being, that I'm turning into a LOM, a Little Old Man.

I've noticing myself getting ever more stuck in my ways, as if the sum of all my days had reached maximum absorption of experience, as if my existential larder might be almost full.
Since my nurse practitioner's successful effort to lower my blood pressure, I move at a difference cadence, like a grasshopper in chill temperatures. My emotional peaks and valleys seem to have settled into a high plains homestead where sameness prevails. I take things in some semblance of stride, not terribly excited at any prospect. I suspect that I'm ceasing a life-long seeking in favor of having found. I might have abandoned the notion that some great mystery waits to be revealed to me, and seem to more easily see through packaging into essence. The neighbor kids, a gang of three and four year olds, ran up to me as I parked The Schooner in the driveway saying, "Mr. David, Mr. David, come see the enormous package!" They led me two doors up the street where a huge bright red dumpster had been delivered into our neighbor Tre's driveway. "That's not a package," I heard myself exclaim. "It's a dumpster." It had been a package to them until I popped their illusion. That's precisely the sort of proclamation a Little Old Man might make but only catching himself having made later.

My timing's off. I swear that I once possessed an exquisite sense of timing. I didn't need any stinking timer. My senses more than compensated. I could smell when the steak had achieved a perfect medium rare and sense when it was finally time to take the string beans out of their caldron. Now, I fumble with the timer, The Muse entering the kitchen half way through a procedure to find the timer directing someone to push start. I'd set the damned thing then neglected to begin the countdown. These experiences render me grumpy, probably out of embarrassment, for I sense another superpower waining. I once felt the very soul of the budding eventual master of this universe. I lately recognize mastery for something I never suspected it might be, a quieting assimilation into an ever more comforting background. The Hero's Journey, such as it was, and all the terrifying encounters with Gilgamesh, likely lays behind me now. This might just be home.

I buy my socks at the hardware store. I wear my jeans until they're a few months past merely well worn, until The Muse has given up complaining that I dress myself in rags. I don't dress up for anything and wear one of two shirts between spring and autumn. I'm nobody's fashion maven. I let my Nordstrom card lapse, increasing finding little there but price tags I could only laugh about. I increasingly remember when and wonder where the old reliables went. My tastes somehow became old school. I firmly believe that energy drinks are little more than cruel jokes and gluten allergies a misdiagnosis. I do not lack empathy but understanding. I see an explosion in popularity as evidence that suckers are now being born at a much faster than the traditional one per minute rate. I believe that the buttons on video game controllers directly connect to a random pulse generator and that the entranced players cannot tell the difference, though I can, for I'm becoming a Little Old Man.

I might be stuck in my ways, but my ways work for me, … well, mostly. I've become friends with the clerks at the return counters and expert at explaining how poor packaging drove me to select the wrong kind of razor blades again. I cannot understand why each fresh innovation employs a different and therefore substandard connector. I struggle to plug anything into anything, noticing just how insubstantial each connection seems. My cords have frayed and probably permanently. It might be a minor miracle that I haven't yet managed to electrocute myself to death, as inept as I've gotten. I reject all radically new improvements and every single-use anything as expensive tin whistles. I automatically parse New and Improved to mean Different and More Expensive. I'm a cheap-ass consumer, which means that I'm probably no longer any kind of consumer at all. Nobody but companies advertising cheap term life insurance or reverse mortgages target my demographic. I'm now downright archaic, I guess. I catch myself more frequently confusedly grumbling. The more I've experienced, the less I understand. I'm becoming a grateful if humbled Little Old Man.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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