Monday, June 18, 2007

Aging and Praying but Living

Sitting in my teetering cotton-lined desk chair,
I wiggle my toes, grimacing,
enduring pain from an ingrown toenail – the big toe.
Unsure whether or not my body is nutrient deficient,
I hope for the best,
praying that the nail will recognize it has strayed from its proper path,
or that my brain will tell that damn nail that it must change its course.

As I rise from my chair to relieve the body of its 9:00 (AM) build-up of
caffeinated waste,
I groan,
quads aching with age and perhaps over-use.
To prevent muscular degeneration I try to bike each day
but after a while it wears down on me,
I need a break,
some simple down time would be nice.

As I enter the restroom I lift my heavy leg to access the elevated toilet,
plopping my bottom upon the cold porcelain...
I rest,
taking in a deep breath of aerosol-flavored lavatory air.
My lungs are not as strong as they once were
but I am grateful for my regular bowel movements
for it is one small thing I can still count on.
While washing my hands, I notice the mirror reflecting a potential sun-borne illness
as bits of old dry skin peel from beneath my tired eyes.
I am awfully tired today,
Too much play yesterday,
It was just too much.
It seems that my sleep cycle has missed a beat and that I can never catch up.
I have been told that as we age
this just happens
and that there is nothing that I can do about it.

After my short bathroom break a co-worker mocks a brochure for a Quick-Link service
aimed at assisting those living independently
but yet in need of personal assistance
and he asks, “what has our society come to?”
I have no response to his comment
and to this lack of proper response, he explains,
“I am sorry, never mind, I am being philosophical today.”

Debating whether or not another cup of coffee is worth an upset stomach,
I fidget, despairingly,
dreading the lunchtime plight;
make food or to spend my limited monthly funds on a precooked meal?
Cooking is a lot of work
and I live alone so cooking for one can get to be a lot.

I drove my car to work today and it felt weird
as I do not drive much anymore.
These days I feel guilty when I drive
for I am beginning to realize that the cost incurred to society has become significant,
though, these days,
it is the easiest way for my body to get around this town.

I am praying that;
this ache in my quads go away,
I get a better night sleep tonight,
I am not developing skin cancer,
My toenail will correct itself,
this extra cup of coffee does not disrupt my stomach
and that life will be a little easier today.

I am 23 years old.
Last night I played in a softball game and hit an in-the-park homerun,
I bike 6 miles back and forth to work everyday,
cook massive meals for myself at lunch and dinner time,
drive to outdoor adventure destinations almost every weekend,
and generally try not give a seconds thought to the condition of my body
or the amount of effort it takes to do what I do.
I try not let my body hinder a desire to do,
But honestly,
I must try a little harder.

A short explanation-
I am no longer sure what it means to be old. Our 51 year-old softball coach is one of the fastest on the team. We were incapable of guessing his age until we asked him. He is truly dedicated to his passion of softball and is thus able to play and blend (kind of) with us young bucks.
My grandma, nanny, now sends me messages on Facebook. Nanny is quite concerned about how her driving affects the Polar Bears in Antarctica, though she is a huge fan of Rush Limbaugh. I am proud of my grandma for this. The mind can be viewed as part of the body and an ailed or old mind is one that is incapable of accepting change. My limber-bodied grandma proved that she was fully capable of mowing her own lawn after my grandpa died. She now embraces her physical ability to accept change and lets it spread throughout.
I recently read an emotionally-charged article about an elderly man who was griping about the same digestive and reproductive tract problems as my adventurous, twenty-something friend. Ought I feel sorry for the elderly man while my friend goes about his daily life without a word about the problem? Sure, feelings are important and should not be ignored but when those feelings are disseminated only to illicit a response from others, how necessary is it? Babies tend act in this way when they cannot have their way, as we age do we somehow forget that this is not acceptable? That such an act is a definite indicator of age? I believe there is a great beauty in defying the sociological prescriptions of age.
When do we become old? When we feel old? What does old feel like? I feel old and talk as if I am old, therefore I must be old, right? Or at least I hope that is what I lead you to believe in “Aging, Praying but Living.” Every feeling that I wrote about is real. The way that I express those feelings can have a big affect on how others view me and thus, I intend to act accordingly.

No more complaining about aches, pains and minor bodily deficiencies, Tim, it’s not necessary.


Tom Gilpin Jr said...

Thank you for the wonderful poem and ideas!

The old Taoist genius Lao Tzu once warned us (in another language, anyways) not to "fear the aging of the body for it is the body's way of seeking the root." Easier said than done, but it always made sense to me as an ideal.

Saume said...

What is old? When I was a kid I thought teenagers were old. When I became a teenager myself I thought everyone was old. Now I'm 35. I think 35 is the new 25. But really, I don't feel any older than I can ever remember.

Sure, the aches and pains are more evident, but in my head I am still a young man. I suppose to many, I am actually, still a young man. I think age is relevant. I think old is a state of mind (okay, maybe a state of body sometimes too).

As of my last birthday, I have never dreaded turning a year older. I have always been content to be the age I am. Maybe that will change with 40...50...80? Oh well, guess I'm just going to have to enjoy today.

Twigenator31 said...

W-O-W. That was weird. Not in a bad way. I'm amazed that you can capture this and you're not afraid to. I'd be. Do you just wonder about this stuff all the time? You seem like a really philosophical person. But I guess that's what makes your writing seem so real. Because you think about things that no one really considers much. (I'm young. 14. So I've NEVER considered how much it will suck to have to go to the bathroom in fifty years). Again, keep it up!