Friday, December 19, 2008

waiting here for the next time with a bottle in my hand

The artist formerly known as Pied Piper sparked a thought in an email today. I haven't been writing much lately, and sometimes a proper email is enough to get you back in the spirit, as it turns out.

For the past week, I've had more than one conversation regarding the changes that come with age, and how the simplest things seem to require more energy than they used to. Why is it so much harder to cope? Are we too old for these obstacles we have created for ourselves? It can be tempting to just feel a great sense of weariness, to feel tired right down to your very bones, and to just want to curl up and admit defeat. At times.

I was thinking about what makes the specific notion of change harder as we get older. It's been a little roundabout for me. I acted like a senior citizen when I was an adolescent, so frightening was the notion of uncertainty. Learning about Heisenberg filled me with a sense of melancholy instead of comfort. Then, there was a shift, and suddenly I almost seemed to take an unnatural interest in pulling the rug out from underneath myself. Now I'm probably somewhere in the middle.

But if I was going to think chronologically, think about how I should have felt, then I start thinking about beginnings and endings. It comes down to our chromosomes, all there in our DNA. Chromosomes have telomeres- they're something like the rings you find on the inside of trees, that give you an idea of just how old a redwood is. Well, except they work in the opposite direction. Every time your cell divides again, every time you begin anew, every time, the telomere shortens just a little more. Eventually, it gets too short, and it's a warning sign- the cell knows its number is up, and it cashes it in, unobtrusively committing suicide.

And I think maybe we're like that. Don't get me wrong. We can handle a lot of change. We can handle a lot in general. It's always, always surprising what we can bear, how we can push ourselves given the circumstances. But I feel as though maybe we have a finite number of beginnings and endings. Only so many times a dream can be chased, a heart can be broken. Only so many times a lurching dive can be made, a stumbling fall face first can be withstood. Part of the problem, of course, is that you have a signal too. The telomere gets chopped off, the cat has one less life, and you know what is coming next. You know with every beginning, there is the inevitable end. The more beginnings, the more endings, the more aware you are of just what you're getting yourself into with every new attempt. And of course, of course- wouldn't it make you tiresome right down to your bones, when you thought of it that way?

Yet, here's the thing- I think you have to trash all of that, ultimately. While it's all true, while it is unlikely that there is anything constant and sustaining, still- still- how can you not try, try again? I think we get tired sometimes, and we have to give ourselves that. But giving in to it altogether, no. At some point, you have to shrug off the burden of awareness and experience and just blindly barrel on to the next, great unknown.


Of course, there have been a lot of hijinx going on around here. Pictures to follow if I ever get my camera and flickr to cooperate, but there has been a lot of cookies, bread and even cheesecake made the past two days. Also, today, I blew out a light bulb in the kitchen, was out of replacement bulbs, and managed to replace it with a more energy-efficient bulb by this afternoon. That is, by far, a record for me. It's a Christmas miracle!

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