“Age is just a number,” it has been said “It’s a stage of the mind”. I have long subscribed to this view and even now convince myself each night before going to bed that this is so. However, when I start to go down the stairs for my first cup of tea each morning, protesting knees remind me that it is they who take precedence over the mind! Mark Twain was right when he quipped, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter”.
When my granddaughter was just over two, she would sit on my lap facing me and gently running her fingers through my then greying hair would softly intone, as if to reassure herself, “Old people have white hair. When people get old, they die. Nana, I can see your black hair. But my daddy has only black hair”. S used her own yardstick to define age for an aging grandfather and her father.
Out for a walk yesterday – Summer Solstice – the longest day of this year, my wife and I were enjoying the first glorious day of summer. Although we had walked this route innumerable times it was as if we were observing the trees looming large in our neighbors’ yards for the first time. Perhaps the soggy spring and plenty of rainfall had washed the lush leaves clean and the bright sunlight playing hide and seek through the foliage caught our attention. It was heartwarming that in some 30+ years these Maples, Birches, Bur oaks, Spruces, Ashes and other varieties had come into their own and standing tall, were now adding majesty to the neighborhood. The gnarled bark on the trunk gives away the age of the trees while at the same time adding to their beauty. Although not a “tree hugger,” for some inexplicable reason I feel calmed and comforted simply by placing my palms on a tree-trunk. Do trees face a mid-life crisis like us mortals I wonder, or do they just stand silently enduring and observing all that comes to pass?
Later, I took off on my own to walk through the neighborhood trail, stopping atop the hill overlooking Lake Ontario. Dahlias, lilies, irises and an assortment of flowers whose names I do not know were blooming in neatly laid out flower beds all around. In the midst of all this beauty I sat on my favorite rock staring out at the shimmering lake in the distance. Rushes of the not-yet-summery breeze felt more like it was early Fall. My thoughts swirled with the wind. Where and how does the wind change its temperament; from the hot and dusty Samoon to the cooler Shamal in the deserts, getting polluted through the Indo-Gangetic plains and then cleansed as it flies over snow-clad mountain tops, co-existing in the form of Trade, Westerlies or other Local Winds? Does wind age, I wondered?
Seated on the rock and letting my thoughts wander on the Solstice day also brought back memories from many years ago when I had visited the Stonehenge in the company of friends during our training course in England. I was awestruck by the stone pillars and slabs laid out in a circle and wondered who had built up this site and for what purpose. I tried to switch from the role of the observer to being the observed. If they had eyes, what would these ancient stones have seen through the millennia?
This continuum of existence makes it difficult to determine the start, middle or end. Do we have a “midlife” or do we simply accept nature run its course to help us “mature with age”? While all these serious, deeply philosophical thoughts were swirling around, my mind was completely blown away by the timing of the iPod shuffling up this old favorite by Ole’ Blue Eyes Sinatra: