At 59, I think I’ve noticed that deterioration has not only become foreseeable but inevitable. I feel like one of those public statues that attract pigeons. I’ve crossed the half-century mark, and already sense the whoosh of angel wings around my shoulders. I find it shocking, and scary, that I’m now closer to eighty than twenty, closer to ninety than ten. I swear it was only yesterday that I was throwing baseballs over our house and screaming “Annie Over”. Now I have little hairs sprouting from various parts of my nose and ears. The barber’s scissors have become a nuisance in only reminding me of the march of time.
My ten-year-old inner self still grimaces at the reading glasses that lay on virtually every table at my house. The flecks of white in the eyebrows and beard, the wrinkles that seem to grow everyday. As an analogy, I think life is a lot like a toaster. You go in soft, pliable, and out pops a dried up old person. I guess that beats not popping out at all. Over the coming years I can look forward to liver spots, failing memory, calcified arteries, digestive miseries, prostate and bladder complaints, faulty hearing, sadistic joints and those damn free radicals overtaking every cell in my body. I’ve already shrunk half an inch from my once proud six-foot three inch stature. It doesn’t seem possible that I’ve already outlived most of my friends and some of my family, considering all that I’ve done. Hell, if I were to keel over tomorrow I’d be less famous than a Chia Pet. That’s a sad piece of information right there.
It’s already too late for me to become an astronaut or a nuclear physicist or maybe a writer. And as proof of that fact, I just gave up on finding three synonyms for “detestable.” What’s even more troubling than the relentless march of time is its damnable tendency to accelerate as we age. When I was a child of six, one year was an entire universe of discovery and jubilation, a vast arena in which every experience tasted like a new ice cream flavor. Peach today, Rocky Road tomorrow. A year represented a massive chunk of my child life. But now, being a man of age, a year encompasses a mere two percent of the territory, a barely perceptible blip on the scale of a life time. Days become weeks, weeks become months, months become years. I’m thinking of all the time I’ve spent checking e-mail, brushing my teeth, driving, nodding off during business meetings, or reading the sports section for the thousandth time. Add up all those forgettable moments and it’s no wonder I misplace car keys, forget to water the garden or wash the damn truck. Hell, sometimes I misplace an entire decade.
Although, I’m not without weapons in the war against time. None of us are. I mean, if you think about it. I snatch victories when and where I can by creating moments, like walking in the rain, fishing on a beautiful lake in the evening or appreciating how the sun looks as it too, disappears over the horizon. But even those memories recede eventually. I try and fill my life with the love of family and friends. But even my favorite people tend to mutate over time. Sometimes into odd and unrecognizable people. I have convinced myself that I’m growing in wisdom, even though I’m losing mental dexterity along with precious I.Q. points seemingly everyday. I argue that time and gravity are the same. Both pulls us into a steeper and faster descent, we narrow our focus to the path ahead, dodging the occasional obstructions, hitting one every now and then. They seem to just poke up from no where. In the descent, you begin to spot the bodies of the luckless ones who crashed or spun out of control, former people you’ve known who came to grief in their own descent. We pass them, we pass everything in a blur as we accelerate, thinking we’re still in control, but no one ever survives that sudden stop. It’s like jumping from a 50 story building. Down around the 25th floor or so, you’re thinking, well, so far so good. Cause of death? Stop trauma. We then close our eyes and enter the next realm of possibility.