And the seasons, they go round and round And the painted ponies go up and down We're captive on the carousel of time We can't return, we can only look Behind, from where we came And go round and round and round, in the circle game - Joni Mitchell, The Circle Game.
Joni Mitchell wrote this song as a response to Neil Young’s song, Sugar Mountain. Her friend was feeling blue about becoming an adult, and she wanted to give him a different perspective. We are all captive on the carousel of time. Sure, you can look back, but there’s nothing to be done about the past. Joni’s song reminds me of a bit of poetry I love.
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it. - Omar Kayyám
My granddaughter has just completed her first circle on the carousel. In the blink of an eye, I’ll be gone, and she’ll be a woman. That’s how life works.
I’ve also completed another circle too. We all have. New Year’s Eve is when we are supposed to celebrate those circles. Birthdays, too.
Here’s a bit of truth for you. The more circles you make, the fewer there are ahead, and the more there are to look back upon. When you look ahead, all you see is declining physical and mental capacity. If you aren’t set up for a comfortable retirement, add to that, financial insecurity. Old people who do not have anything going for them in the present spend their lives looking back. If the past has not been kind, they become bitter.
When I look at my past, I see a lot of bad and good mixed together with truly massive amounts of ennui. For every good time to reminisce about, there’s a bad time ready to ruin my day and even possibly trigger a depressive episode. When I look ahead, I lack the good genetics and social/financial resources to truly enjoy my “golden years.” The only thing “golden” about them is related to my bladder.
And you run, and you run to catch up with the sun, but it's sinking Racing around to come up behind you again The sun is the same in a relative way, but you're older Shorter of breath, and one day closer to death Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way The time is gone, the song is over, thought I'd something more to say - Pink Floyd, Time
What is left is to enjoy each day as it comes without reference to the day before or the day after. You have to ignore all the messages the world sends you about your uselessness; defy the rules of what is considered appropriate for geezers. Not easy to do sometimes – especially if you are sensitive to others’ opinions.
I am very fortunate to have a few things. Not everyone has as much.
I see my granddaughter every now and then. I have enough fitness left to go on little hikes. Maybe I’ll join a gym. I enjoy photography, writing, and reading – it keeps my brain active. Once in a while, my wife and I take in a play or a movie or take a short trip. Mostly we watch Netflix or Hulu. The dogs are always fun. There’s a lot of empty space that the internet fills up – anime, YouTube, blogs, and such.
Ageism pisses me off. It probably shouldn’t since there’s not a damned thing I can do about it.
It’s a bizarre kind of discrimination and self-alienation. Seriously… would racism be a thing if everyone were going to change into the other race? What about misogyny if every man were going to become a woman? Homophobia, if all straights were going to transition to gay? Every young person should expect to be an old person. It’s like guaranteeing you’re going to despise yourself.
I don’t think old is ugly; it is just real. I’m not ashamed of running through the streets naked. I have found people who think it cool that I’m so bold. My body is not an apology for growing old. I don’t give a flying fuck what anyone thinks about my manboobs, my gray hair, or my dangly participle. My expanding waistline, battle scars, and wrinkles are proof of a life lived. Welcome to the truth about life.
You can’t enjoy the present unless you’ve let go of the past and stopped worrying about things in the future over which you have no control. And if there is something you can do to make your future better, do it, and don’t worry about it. Some day I will have to jump off the carousel, but I’ll be damned if I let the inevitable future poison today.