Old Man River

So I’m thinking yesterday about milestones and changes and how life flows like a river.

I’m thinking about how I read on Facebook and Twitter about the lives of all my family, friends, coworkers and acquaintances, how they are always churning and moving and relocating and promoting and transporting and loving and growing and dying and teaching and learning and experiencing.

I’m watching my granddaughter, not quite one year old, her face glowing with the reflection of family and celebration all around her, reaching for the salad and mimicking a smile and watching her big sister, actively coaching her. I watch her clap, clap, clap, smile, smile, smile, by rote at first, but then sensing that this is pleasurable, this is fun, this is something that I can do for myself. I marvel at the way a life starts, helpless, tiny, pink, soft, and then, in less than a year, learning and soaking up the ways of world and actively communicating without yet saying a single word. I revel not just in the birth of another child, but the incarnation of another personality, another change agent in this world that we sometimes think is irretrievably broken, save this.

I’m thinking about how wonderful it is to be young and in love, to see and feel the wonder of the birth of that small child and then a career and then a family. To feel the tug and pull and stretch of life as it grabs you by the throat and says, c’mon now, you got yourself into this now pull yourself up by your bootstraps, by God, and feed these children and finish that degree and put yourself out there and get yourself promoted and make your mark in the world. Work as a team, work as a unit, be a family, because that’s the way the world moves on.

I’m loving the way it feels to teach my oldest granddaughter to play tic tac toe, the little gears in her head turning as she begins to grasp strategy and that this little child’s game, this little exercise played out with green crayon and paper, is a connection, no matter how fleeting, that is learning at its best. A playful assimilation of how things work. A tiny declaration of independence written in colored wax.

I’m thinking that this family gathered around is so very different from that family that was, in so many ways. We laugh, we talk, we remember. We cry, not here of course, but in private. We all know about that, those private struggles and quiet tears shed away from the celebrations and the holiday lights. We all know.

I see aging before my eyes. I see time’s inexorable march in flesh and bone, the weight of decisions made and a life lived sitting on the shoulders and bowing the back so that the vantage point of the eldest among us is both studied and stooped. I wonder what it must feel like to hear these joyous celebrations, as if from the bottom of a well, muffled and distant but close enough to touch.

I see the march of time.

Relentless. Giving. Exacting. Unforgiving. Heartless. Cold. Cruel.

I see the promise of the future.

Smiling. Bright. Energetic. Hopeful. Creative.

I see what all before me have seen.

A river of time that runs deep with the tears of sadness, the eddies of regret, the rapids of anticipation, and the sun-dappled, warm, mossy shallows of joy.

I see life as it runs its course before me, and today I am content.

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6 thoughts on “Old Man River

  1. Beautifully said! It should teach us to cherish each day, each milestone and each moment with loved ones. As it has been said, this is not a practice run…this is it and the older the get, the faster time seems to go by.

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