I’m going to come clean.
I have a favorite spoon, a favorite fork and a favorite pint glass to hold my water in. I can certainly use other things, but I’m always a bit on edge if I do. Is that weird?
I can’t seem to throw away old newspapers with headlines of prominent events, favorite pens without ink, or most books given to me by others. I hang onto Christmas cards and birthday cards and stacks of old letters. I have ticket stubs and burned out candles and irreparably torn jeans that don’t fit. I save shirts that I love but hate how they look on me. I have a collection of good cardboard boxes, saved, because they are good cardboard boxes.
I have watches that don’t run and coffee mugs I don’t use and a drawer full of cords that belong to things I probably no longer own. I hoard “good paper” and Sharpie pens and tubes of dried up paint. I have a 1 TB digital drive full of thousands of photos that should never have been saved. I have three beautiful cameras, two of which I’ve yet to learn how to use. I have maps I can’t read, bottles of expired prescriptions and two salt lamps that need new bulbs.
My eyebrows are thinning, my ears are growing and I occasionally break out like I’m 16. My hair is brittle (and going white), my eyes are going bad and I have a “good ear” beginning to fade. I sneeze constantly, get the occasional dreaded cold sore and take a drug I hate every day so that my joints don’t erode into nothingness.
I’m a mess, really.
I think at 60 I began to have a recognition of myself. It would be a stretch to call it an appreciation or even an acceptance but there is an undeniable sense of self-awareness. I look around at my life amazed and surprised by what I discover about who I am.
I really don’t love shopping or crowds and I will always gravitate towards nature and solitude. I kick myself that I was “today years old” before I knew that a bald eagle could dive at a mindblowing speed of 100mph, mate for life and live up to 30 years in the wild.
Just last year I learned that on my fuel gauge in the car there is a small gas tank graphic and an arrow that indicates which side the tank is on. And that if I simply flip the lid on child-proof pill bottles, they open easier for arthritic hands.
The scars I had at 16 are the same scars I have at 60. The light bulbs of today are harsh and unnatural so you can trust me about the scars. No imperfection shall go unseen. It’s like an unwritten rule. I wear a nightguard and an earplug and more than once I have contemplated black-out drapes or shades.
I don’t eat right or sleep well. In fact most nights, even when I am completely exhausted, my mind jumps in with all the unanswerable questions needed to seed my insomnia. Worry grows like weeds in the night. I try tricks, like some barely remembered relaxation techniques, but to little avail. I try leaning into my fractured meditation practice but forget to breathe.
My time has become my most valuable asset. If you don’t keep your word or respect my boundaries, you will probably see less and less of me. The digressions of others I used to brush off and excuse, now leave me disappointed. Days are a precious commodity. Engagement, even if challenging, is always my priority but I will walk fast and furiously away from disingenuousness.
My wise grandfather used to say ” Not everyone is going to like me. I don’t care, I’ll find someone who does”.
Maybe he was on to something. I used to have time, energy and inclination to chase after people to (hopefully) “make” them like me. Now, I recognize that those are not my people and the pursuit of their attention is simply folly.
That’s the thing about people, isn’t it? What I endured of others indifference has shown itself to be like a sheer drape falling in front of whatever truth lies behind it. I suppose in a way that even as my eyes begin to fail, what I actually SEE has become clearer. And I see that sheer drape as the disguise it is. Am I the only one?
I leave little to chance these days. My (very old) memories of preparedness as a Girl Scout have come back in a rush. These days, before I leave on a solitary adventure I leave a note about where I’m heading. I engage a GPS so my location (if necessary) can be tracked. I bring water, my ten essentials and wear an ID bracelet. I brush up on proper ways to deal with wildlife encounters and getting lost and personal injury. I protect myself from harm in the ways I can and hope for the best.
Mary Oliver wrote: If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much”. That’s about right. My walks are sacred and rarely shared. That said, I will share wild places with people who, like me, appreciate the journey as the true reward. I don’t go fast. I don’t always need to go far. My goal is never really the destination. The “getting there” is what I lean into.
I’m not sure why I’m telling you this. While others obsess about privacy, I see it for the illusion that it is. Go ahead, Google yourself. You probably aren’t the enigma you think you are. No one really cares much about what makes you tick. They only care about what makes you “buy”.
All things political give me a stomach ache. I suspect I could go on and on and rail against ignorance, but in the end, it is an exercise in futility. So many people stopped thinking and feeling for themselves a long time ago. It became easier to wear a label that told you what you believed: Christian, Republican, Democrat, Conservative, Liberal, Capitalist, Socialist, Environmentalist. It goes on.
As I slip from the Fall of my life into Winter, I find myself wanting to step out of boxes and into the arms of nature. My human instinct is to protect what I love and my only desire is to know in my wild little heart what those things are. Thanks for being along for the ride as I try to discover who I am and what I love through words and pictures.
My perfect day begins like this: nautical twilight with a peek-a-boo sliver of a pearl moon. As the minutes tick away the sky begins to brighten like a bowl of melted sherbet as civil twilight begins. After that, my perfect day is whatever comes next.
“Everything was about to change. It always is …” -Karen Maezen Miller
And a big amen to that.