I’ve been taking a break from social media this year and it has been great. Mostly. The downside has been no blogging. The earth has nearly completed another circuit around the sun. I’ve been doing bits and pieces of writing here and there. None here. The ageing process has carried on regardless and I continue to come to terms with the reality that no-one gets out of here alive. Thank Christ I am in recovery from addiction, because in groups I go to I am reminded to stay teachable, live well and remember not to take myself seriously. Anyway, this happened.
There I was, enjoying the moment. It was the first day of Spring. The early morning sun shone through the open bathroom window and across the mirror, bathing me in light. I was standing easy in my underwear, warm from the shower, applying face moisturiser and feeling the love. All was well in the world. Sunshine. Birdsong. Gentle breeze. You get the picture
I glanced down. What’s that? Is that bruise there on my inner thigh? How did that happen? Hmmm not a bruise a shadow? No? It’s not a sag is it? I turned this way and that way in the bright morning light examining my legs from all angles. Definitely a sag right there. Jesus! Another one to add to the collection. Was it there yesterday? I can’t remember? And look there’s a matching one on my other thigh. For fucks sake it’s a new sag! And with that rude reminder of the loss of youth and beauty came the cold stab of grief to the heart.
Next minute I was gone. Head first into unknown territory where the road is dark and narrow. Fleeing from the spectre of old age. I’d been down roads like this before, in the drivers’ seat of a clapped out old heap, negotiating my way through the middle of fucking nowhere on my own with nothing to keep me company but the story of my inevitable decline. And I knew how this story would end. It ends with me in a few short years, broken-arsed and living in a bus-stop, cold and unloved, one withered claw beseeching passers-by to give me two dollars and the other clutching a bottle of cheap vodka, with only pigeons for company. Oh, the pain the pain the pain what is the fucking point? was the silent lament as my mood began to swerve towards a precipice. I may as well give up now. There is no point in going on. And so on and so forth ad infinitum.
I felt constricted and realised I’d been holding my breath. As I exhaled there was a break in transmission. I was able to recognise what was going on and intervene in the tedious monologue. That wee glimmer of light showed me there was another way. I applied the brakes, did a three-point turn and headed back where I came from.
I arrived in the bathroom and was standing in front of the mirror with both feet on the ground. The sun was still shining. I could hear the birds.
When I look in the mirror from the vantage point of seven decades on this spinning blue marble, and I notice the physical evidence of ageing, the thought arises “but I don’t feel old” and in a sense this is so. The mind, heart and spirit exist outside of time. Yet the body keeps the score and the skin steadily slides south. Ageing can be a bitch and that’s okay. I can handle it and appreciate the fact. So long as I don’t get swept away into someone else’s standard of beauty and find myself wanting to be anywhere but ‘here’. Driven by the self-centred fear of loss and death. That’s the bitch part. I don’t want to go there. Here is where I want to be. Free and fully alive. At home in my body. Where the love lives.