Mondays, Miracles & Musings

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You wake up and body parts are functioning.
Turn the key in the ignition and all systems are go.
Until they don’t.
Two eyes on Sunday.
1.5 on Monday.
Painfully nagging recurring eye disorder. Detailed here.
Blurred vision. Tear ducts flowing.
Nasal passages oozing goop.
Nausea rolling tummy.
Hip bone connected to the thigh bone.
Thigh bone connected to every bloody thing.

And as for Helen Fielding in Bridget Jones’s Diary and for me:

Once get on tack of thinking about aging there is no escape. Life suddenly seems like a holiday where, halfway through, everything starts accelerating to the end.

“Boy, that accelerated quickly.”

Which led me to thinking about Einstein and miracles.
I’m driving from the office to the Ophthalmologist.
And those of you scolding me about driving with impaired vision, one of my working eyes is better than most of the maniacs with two working eyes on the road today. So relax… [Read more…]

No more tears. Here’s to good outcomes.

tear-drop

It’s a ritual before bedtime.
Nightly.
Now running for 14 months.

I stand in front of the bathroom mirror.
Take a deep breath.
Raise my left hand to pull down the lower left lid,
Raise my right hand to apply a thin stream of the prophylactic.
And if I had a third hand (and was a Believer),
I would make the sign of the cross, look to the heavens, and whisper:
Work your magic. Please.

Sodium Chloride Ophthalmic Ointment.
Generic Brand.
40% cheaper than the Name brand.
Found and bought on Amazon.
Produced in Lake Forest, Illinois by some unknown bucket shop.
You are one strange dude. You don’t think twice about the risk of a no-name eyeball lube bought on the web but refuse to buy generic Raisin Bran cereal at your local Stop ‘n Shop.

Apply every 3 to 4 hours, or as directed by Doctor.
Ophthalmologist’s instructions were nightly. And nightly it is.
For temporary relief of corneal edema.
edema: the collection of excess of watery fluid.

But that’s not the real pain point.
Which is… [Read more…]

Saturday Morning

hammock

I think about time differently since I got to be this old.
I think of each moment as a big La-Z-Boy,
or perhaps a hammock,
and the only direction is a little back and forth,
or side to side.
For this I need peace and quiet,
and I eschew all outside stimulation.
Perhaps this is why the future escapes me.

~ Abigail Thomas, What Comes Next and How to Like It: A Memoir


Photo: Jo Lynn Zamudio via Outdoor Magic

We seldom long for a future where our bodies are less but our spirits and insight are more. Yet, that future is there.

man-on-bench

They just look like old men. And because of that, they are seen as elderly rather than wise. But there is a wisdom that comes with age. The old have walked the path we tread. They have seen the landscape through which we are traveling. They have felt our passions and known our dreams, though perhaps in different shape and in different measure. In their eyes we can see our future. In our eyes they can see their past. In some fundamental way, they know the place where we are going.

The look I saw in the eyes of both those older men in the past two days was a look of deep compassion and understanding. They understood something about me, just as I understand something about the hopeful, headphone-wearing twenty-year-olds in that gym. It is knowledge unspoken, but it is knowledge, nonetheless. They also know that few will seek them out. They have accepted the fact that few will ask them to share what it is that they have come to understand. Their time has come and passed; the younger generations want little more from them than reminiscences.

I was honored to speak to both these men. I hope I showed them proper respect in our conversations. I hope, too, that I was listening to them for what they can teach me about life, not merely for what they can reveal as witnesses to the past. For each touched me deeply. In their presence, I felt both judged and understood. It was as if their eyes, still bright, saw something I myself could not see. Their gazes gave me silent comfort, as if to say, “It’s all right to be where you are. It is exactly where you ought to be.” It was the kind of comfort that I hope to give my son as I see him moving through choppy waters — a look of understanding that says, “You are not alone.”

We live so strongly within the boundaries of our own experience. If we long for anything, it is usually for a time past, when we were younger, stronger, better looking, and not yet so bound by decisions we have made. We seldom long for a future where our bodies are less but our spirits and insight are more. Yet, that future is there. It is in the eyes of those who have lived longer, seen more, and come closer to a resolved understanding of their place and purpose on this planet. I feel better as a man, better as a person, and filled with a new sense of challenge and responsibility for having encountered those two old men. Their mortality, so close to the surface, has touched me in some deep and irreducible part of my own being. I feel observed and, in a strange way, renewed. They have given me the gift of their witness and the blessing of their understanding. May I take that gift, learn from it, and find a way to pass it on.

~ Kent Nerburn, Two Old Men in Ordinary Sacred


Photo Credit: va.gov

Catching Metro-North.

new-york-city-afternoon-manhattan

6:13 pm.
Madison Square Garden to Grand Central.
10 blocks North — 3 blocks East.
22 minutes to the 6:35 pm New Haven Line.
Rush hour. On foot.

Doable? Let’s go.

Tourists.
Suits.
Students.
Lovers.
Jaywalk.
Contractors.
Homeless.
Tourists.
Street Vendors.
Food cart. Pita. Gyros.
Cabs.
Pedicabs.
Bus tour hawkers.
Shysters.
Shopkeepers.
Jaywalk.
Three abreast.
Tourists.
Lollygaggers.
Messengers.
Bikers.
Tourists.
Black Cars.
Red lights.
Bumbin’Jostlin’ (Sorry!)
Jaywalk.
Walk signs.
Don’t walk.
Jaywalk.
Sidewalk.
Soft spring breeze.
Pungent marinating garbage.
Zig. Zag.
Smokers.
Tourists.
City Buses.
Car horns.

[Read more…]

50. And most beautiful.

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Christie D’Zurill, LA Times: Sandra Bullock is People’s most beautiful woman; ‘ridiculous,’ she says:

Sandra Bullock, mother of Louis and winner of Oscar, is People magazine’s most beautiful woman for 2015…

At 50, she’s the oldest celebrity to be featured on the magazine’s annual cover celebrating beauty — a factoid that likely wouldn’t register with her 5-year-old son.
“[H]e asked why I have wrinkles, and I said, ‘Well, I hope some of them are from laughing so much.’ And he touched my face and said, ‘You’re not old, you’re just happy…

“Real beauty is quiet,” she said. “Especially in this town, it’s just so hard not to say, ‘Oh, I need to look like that.’

“No, be a good person, be a good mom, do a good job with the lunch, let someone cut in front of you who looks like they’re in a bigger hurry.”…

This is Now. Wow.


Alan Watts: My goodness, don’t you remember?

[Read more…]

I’d rather live in the instant than ‘gram the instant

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This was just that good. Leading me to share more than a few excerpts from Walter Kirn‘s excellent essay titled: Remembrance of Things Lost:

What if Marcel Proust had kept an Instagram account? What if he’d used a smartphone to snap a photo of every evocative morsel he’d ever eaten? Would he still have written “In Search of Lost Time”…

…When I try to recall my childhood…I don’t have recourse to an exhaustive catalog of images and documents. My parents never shot home movies and they took family photos only rarely, on ceremonial occasions when everyone was compelled to smile tautly and mask what was really going on inside them. As a consequence, revisiting my youth can feel rather like a homicide investigation. Working from clues and the accounts of witnesses, including the highly unreliable one who lives behind my eyeballs, I wait for scenarios to form and patterns to emerge. If they seem plausible I delve into them further, especially if the images align with the murky emotions they conjure up. I tend not to question the resulting mental scenes despite being well aware that photographs and secondhand stories have been shown to create false memories. Clear or hazy, bright or dim, my recollections are private, mine alone, and written in synaptic smoke, not subject to verification by instant replay.

…What makes memories precious, even certain “bad” ones, is forgetting, of course. Remember forgetting? …Memory is an imaginative act; first we imagine what we’ll want to keep and then we fashion stories from what we’ve kept. Memories don’t just happen, they are built…the human mind is not a hard drive, a neutral repository of information. The melancholy passage of the years tends to change our values as we age, and the awesome backflips of 13 don’t hold the magic they once did; not when compared to the image of a loved one who has since gone absent, say. If I’d had a smartphone with a video camera back in my early adolescence, I doubt that I would have trained it on the things that matter to me now, like the sight of my mother reading in her blue armchair, underlining passages from Proust.

…One reason that I’ve never kept a journal is that the attention that goes into keeping one is, I feel, more profitably spent on engaging with the moment. I’d rather live in the instant than ‘gram the instant.

A remembrance never formed is worse, far worse, than a remembrance lost. At 52, increasingly forgetful, I sometimes rack my brain for past experiences that I’m positive are in there somewhere and draw a blank. It’s frustrating, but the blank still marks a spot — a spot where a memory used to be and might, if I eat the right cake, reappear. What makes memory magical is its imperfections and its unpredictability; try as we might, we never quite control it. It draws our attention to the margins of stories that once seemed to be the main events. Someday, when my son reviews his footage, what will come back to him may not be his ski stunts but other aspects of that winter day: the voices of his friends, the shadows on the mountain, the face of his father beside him in the car.

Don’t miss Walter Kirn’s entire essay @ Remembrance of Things Lost:


Image: NY Times Magazine.  A 2011 installation of printouts of photos that had been uploaded to Flickr over a 24-hour period.Credit “24 HRS in Photos,” by Erik Kessels at Foam in Amsterdam, KesselsKramer

Running. With Flaubert.

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Let’s frame up the mood this morning.

I step on and off the scale. It could be worse. What’s of greater concern is the lack of disgust. Why not just paint a large white flag on the belly and add in large font: “Yes, I quit.” Middle aged man on the down side.

It’s 8:00 am. Zeke and I are laying in bed and I’m scanning the morning papers. It wasn’t so long ago that I would have run 10 miles by 8:30 am and be done with breakfast.  Now, I’m just thinking about breakfast.

The ladies of the house are off to Yoga. Men don’t do Yoga. This man anyway. Too many sweaty bodies in close proximity. Lululemon pants exposing things I don’t need to see. Rubber mats. Rubber room. Claustrophobia. Get me out of here.

Earlier in the week, Rachel pointed out that I’m wearing a track suit (expandable waist) with increasing frequency.  I brush her off but the hit is direct, the wound lingers.

Yes, I’ve become  Abigail Thomas‘ large and growing Inaction Figure: Torpor. Languor. Stupor. [Read more…]

But right now I’m happy, happier, ish

steve-coogan

Michael Hainey in an interview with Steve CooganComedian Steve Coogan is Happyish:

MH: If you look at yourself now—a man nearing 50—what would you have said to the young Steve Coogan?

SC: It’s a very good question. Well, I would have… [long pause] aimed higher. I don’t just mean that in a career sense, I mean be better, strive to be better in all things, and work harder, because you’ll find it rewarding. I’d say, Be comfortable with who you are as well, just listen to yourself more. I suppose when I was younger, I wanted to get on and have a career and be successful. And try to be all things to all men. I don’t do that anymore. Now I want to do things I believe in, and have a sort of honesty, in work and in life. When I was younger, I didn’t really want to say anything contentious, because I thought it might alienate people who liked my work.

MH: Is there anything you sacrificed to be in your position that you regret?

SC: In my quest for authenticity and sincerity, I can be a bit annoying. In my quest to try to bring some love into things, I can be a bit acerbic and nasty. I love that quote that Aldous Huxley said at the end of his life: Through all his writing and everything, all he’d learned at the end of his life was that people should just be a bit nicer to each other. I love the simplicity of that. And I do well to remember it. Sometimes I need to just be nice to people. I have been quite driven over the years. But right now I’m happy, happier, ish, than I’ve been before. I’m fortunate in that I can make choices, and I think I try to make the right ones. And I don’t do anything I don’t believe in. And that’ a real luxury.

Don’t miss full interview here: Comedian Steve Coogan is Happyish


Photo: wegotthisdiscovered.com