A Certain Confusion
The colors spill out,
leaking from the frame,
refusing to be contained or limited
to the walls we erect for just that purpose.
The colors spill out,
creating something new, distinct and strange,
unlikely beauty that forgets to conform,
and allows it’s truth to travel where ever it will.
The colors spill out.
About this poem
Yesterday I slipped on the kitchen floor. One leg went one way, the other went another way. Neither direction were directions human legs were made to go. I landed hard, but all in all, it could have been worse. My head managed not to bounce and my arm hit hard but didn’t try and play Gumby.
I went to church stiff but got through the service just fine. As the day went on, however, I got more and more sore. Today it is worse. If I follow my normal pattern of healing, tomorrow I will start getting better. It will pass and in a few days, I’ll be fine. Just a passing thing.
But it has made me appreciate my good health. I’m 63. Pretty much everything works the way it is supposed to. If you don’t count diabetes and depression, neither of which slow me down, I am. my doctor tells me, in exceptional health “for a man of my age.”
I hate that phrase. “A man your age.” I started hearing it about the time I turned fifty-five. As if somehow I was suddenly supposed to come undone at this age or that age. I get that age has its effects and that I can’t do quite all the things I could do in my twenties or thirties.
But on the other hand, I can do things now that I could not do when I was younger. I make better decisions. I am more compassionate, more willing to take risks. My writing is better. My art is better. My spiritual life is better. The love I have in my life is better than I ever imagined it could be. That’s worth a little bit of physical decline.
Thanksgiving is upon us. I will make the drive to Virginia to be with my family, a tradition that goes back a generation or two. It’s about an eleven-hour road trip, and for me, it’s a pleasure to take, something that has not changed since I was young.
It all reminds me of how grateful I am for my relative health, whether it is for “a man of my age.” or just health in general. Even the fall yesterday is cause for thanksgiving, a reminder of just how good I feel most of the time. I don’t have aches in the morning. I have good energy. It’s rare I feel anything but good. When I am hurt, I heal quickly. When I do get sick, it passes.
I’ve lost a fair number of colleagues and friends over the past few years. Feeling as I do, dying is inconceivable, even if I have come close a time or two. When I lose a friend or long-time colleague, I am sad, but I don’t ruminate. I am grateful. For their lives and how they have touched me, and that I am still OK, aging old guy or not.
More than that, I am grateful that my horizons continue to expand. New challenges inspire me more than scare me. (That has not always been the case.). I experiment a lot, which means I fail a lot before I find my groove. My mind changes as I learn new things.
How did this happen? In ways, I feel younger than I did a decade and a half ago. I went through my time of hell somehow and came out changed on the other side. I came to the place where I realized I could influence things and people, perhaps, but I had no control over, well, most anything. In a world where a zillion people are all working hard to control their own agendas, my dollop of influence is just that, a dollop.
Life it seems, is more about adjusting sails to the wind than trying to tell the wind what to do, and once I realized that was the case, and allowed life to happen instead of trying to make it happen, my stress level faded and faded and faded.
That’s not the same as saying I don’t work to make things happen. I do that every day. But separating results from effort and intention was life-changing.
I spent some time in my studio yesterday, painting and preparing some artwork for a show I am doing December first. One of the things I did was the painting in the cover picture for this post.
I was trying to decide what frame to use with that particular piece of art. I decided to use an old antique frame I had in the frame bin. Somehow it worked with the worn and textured frame. But something else happened.
I realized I liked the art spilling out from the edges of the frame more than I liked it bound by the frame. I am not sure how to make that work as a final piece, but the idea of life spilling out from its boundaries appeals to me. That’s what it should do. Even for us people of “a certain age.”
But it only does when we let it.
Be well. Travel wisely,