Virginia Woolf wrote once that she didn't believe in aging, "I believe in forever altering one's aspect to the sun."
I was washing the dishes this morning and looked out over at Wonder Woman, and I was startled to see a long hatpin in her hand. I asked Maria, our windowsill curator, if she knew anything about it. She said she found an old hatpin and thought that Wonder Woman might need a weapon, especially these days.
So harassers and sex demons watch out, Wonder Woman is armed and ready to do battle. So, it seems, are many other women. Crusades for freedom and justice are ageless and timeless.
Washing the dishes, I started thinking about aging, and what my role is now in the world.
Comic characters never age, they are eternally strong and powerful, I think I am past the stage of being a warrior in one sense, but I do believe words have power and truth has power, and as I get older I believe my words have more power and truth in them, because that is a feature of aging, if your eyes are open.
In the 60's, a dear friend in New York City was being pummeled by the police while he was protesting against the Vietnam War. "What the hell," told myself, and I plunged into the brawl, trying to pull one of the officers off of my friend, he was clubbing him mercilessly.
I got knocked in the head myself for my trouble, and accused of disorderly conduct. I went briefly to jail, and a judge dismissed the charges. I had some good bruises to show for it. I am not a warrior any longer, I can only stand on the sidelines.
Last night, at dinner, friends told me about their young nephew, who just got a border collie puppy, and like so many people with border collie puppies, is now trying to figure out how to live with it. He has a small yard, never walks his dogs, no sheep to herd, and a puppy already bursting at the seams to work. But there is no work.
I will never know why people like that go for border collies.
The nephew has a problem. He asked our friends if the "old man who walks his dogs up the road" might be willing to help him train his new dog. They couldn't wait to tell me that story.
I already feel badly for that dog, but I am not an animal trainer, but a writer, and I stay away from people who don't know the difference.
Still, I felt a little jolt. This was the first time in my life to my knowledge that anyone has ever called me "an old man." I guess my friends thought it might be funny. Once in a while, it is good to see yourself through the eyes of other people.
In my head, I am quite young and vigorous, I don't really know how other people see me. I know people are beginning to carry things for me to the car, and every time I get up to get some firewood, Maria appears magically from nowhere and grabs the rolling wood cart. I know I cannot bend my knees the way I used do.
My short-term memory is getting hazy, I need to write names and dates down. And that is nothing new either.
have a habit of dropping logs and burning my hands, but that is not new, I've been doing that forever. I've noticed that one of the strange things about aging is that people never see themselves as old, even when they are. It's one of nature's sometimes cruel tricks.
Generally, I like getting older. I am growing, changing, getting smarter and wiser about my life. I have two chronic diseases, diabetes and heart disease, but I am writing more than ever, and if I may say so, better than before.
I do have some arthritis in my legs and joints, but the doctors tell me I am healthy and vital and will be around a good long time. Would they tell me otherwise?
My blog is growing and surging, I am finally taking some interesting photos, and to be honest, my sex life has never been better. Old people are not supposed to ever have sex, but that is a lie.
Sometimes I do get into a funk about getting older. I worry about leaving Maria alone when I go, I know she can take care of herself but I wish I had a small fortune to leave her. I feel bad about having given all of my money away in life and in my divorce.
I'd love another best-selling book before I fade away. But I practice the art of radical acceptance, I am who I am.
Hindsight, like guilt and nostalgia, is a waste of time.
I guess the nephew is telling the truth. To him, I am just another old man walking up a hill with his dogs. Do I need to see myself the way others see me, is there a truth in there for me to learn?
I think the answer is that I am too busy living – and I am very busy living – to give it a lot of thought. I don't need to label myself, I can leave that to others.
I am who I am, whatever that is, and wherever that is, and that is good enough for me. I believe in altering my aspect to the sun.