And now in age I bud again

The only trouble with being born in 1961 is that in 2021 you will turn 60, something I did last week. It’s very strange to persist in feeling 22, even as every mirror — and every storefront window and polished elevator door — reveals the truth. Sixty is the point at which people must admit they are no longer middle-aged.

Lately it’s been dawning on me that I would not want to have been born even one minute later than 1961, either. Last week I mentioned this new thought to a friend, and her response was immediate, as though she’d already had it herself: “Because we won’t have to live through the cataclysm?”

Exactly.

Well, no, not exactly. On the days when headlines are full, yet again, with firestorms and catastrophic flooding and biodiversity collapse and endless pandemic and a depressingly effective disinformation campaign to deny the climate emergency — on those days, yes. Absolutely yes. On those days I am glad to be 60 because it means I almost certainly won’t live to witness the cataclysm that is coming if humanity cannot change its ways in time.

But that’s not the way I think on most days. On most days I am simply grateful for the 60 years I’ve had…

I have lived long enough to have learned, too, that what is beautiful and joyful is almost always fleeting and must never be squandered. That rejection rarely bears any relationship to worth. That whatever else might separate us, sharing a love for “Ted Lasso” is enough common ground to start the harder conversations. That life is too short to wear uncomfortable shoes…

A lifelong friend, one who will also turn 60 this year, sent me an email on my birthday. Her message contained a passage from “The Flower,” a poem by George Herbert: “Grief melts away / Like snow in May, / As if there were no such cold thing. / Who would have thought my shriveled heart / Could have recovered greenness?”

Who would have thought, indeed? But given enough time, we do go on, somehow. Like the stems and branches of springtime, our shriveled hearts can recover greenness, too. “And now in age I bud again,” Herbert wrote, and so it is with us.

— Margaret Renkl, from “I Just Turned 60, but I Still Feel 22″ in The New York Times (November 1, 2021)


Portraits: First: Margaret Renkl at Auburn University in 1983.  Credit…Billy Renkl. Second: WUTC on September 15, 2021 at 4:37 PM EDT

Comments

  1. As someone who crossed that bridge last year, I have come to learn that my brain is still 40, but my body keeps saying “Whoa, there cowboy”. I do share the sentiment about not wanting to see what appears to be coming and I fear for my children/grandchildren and what they will have to live through.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. This feels, to me, like a follow up letter I wrote with my ‘state of mind’ invitation letter for my fortieth birthday! It is, to my knowledge, also the only of my well over 1000 letters I’ve written I still keep nearby, have quoted to others and re-read from time to time. It was the truest I’ve ever allowed myself to be with all 100+ recipients (which were invited to my celebration either to an extended breakfast or an ‘evening cold buffet’ – which became such a success that the breaking ppl were helping to wash up and set up the evening do, as nobody wanted to leave!)
    I’m still marvelling (sometimes) at the kid grinning back at me when I look in the mirror. But I also see the ‘wise witch’ looking back at me more often than not…. Would I want to be young again? NO WAY.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. “And now in age I bud again,” – i believe this to be true

    Liked by 2 people

    • And now in age I bud again,
      After so many deaths I live and write;
      I once more smell the dew and rain,
      And relish versing. Oh, my only light,
      It cannot be
      That I am he
      On whom thy tempests fell all night.

      Liked by 7 people

      • Say, are you showing a bit of a November tristesse (I try to avoid the word depression because that’s a serious issue!).
        Or, and I wouldn’t mind that, are you craving some additional loving attention by us, yr readers? 🤫😊

        Like

  4. Although I have not yet reached 60, Renkl’s words ring true. I frequently find myself musing on the fact that I was born in a fortunate moment, one in which so much has been made possible, and at the same time, as I look to the future, I shudder at what may come. We have been much to cavalier with the many gifts we have been given and we appear to be dead set on denying the consequences of our actions. If we insist on continuing down this path, it isn’t gonna end well.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Too cavalier, not to.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Jeanne DeLormier says:

    This really struck me – I turned 70 this past summer & in my head I’m still 35…. How nice to see I’m not the only one who feels that way! And ‘recover greenness’. How lovely! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Age may just be a number, but it carries a lot of heft. Here’s to the younger person within this Medicare eligible body..

    Liked by 2 people

  8. This must touch you particularly this year 😉
    It touches me and I’ve a couple more to go before I get there…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Vera Kanigan says:

    Love the message! I guess that is why my 85 years young husband still fertilizes his lawn and mows it once a week, “to feel the greenness”.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. happy birthday, David! and I agree with all that you have to say.

    as one example, I have not worn dress shoes yet this semester, just a favorite pair of sneakers. And no surprise – no one cares…

    and as a second – how great is Ted Lasso!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. ‘whatever else might separate us, sharing a love for “Ted Lasso” is enough common ground to start the harder conversations. That life is too short to wear uncomfortable shoes.’ Like it.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I know that in the past I mentioned to you, that the US documents says people that are 60 years old are considered in the “elderly” category…eee gads!/// one of my red-headed sisters is married to a lovely, man more than 20 years her senior…he is 81 and surprisingly he went in to have an angiogram Tuesday & possibly a stent…he ended up having a triple bypass yesterday…went better than expected Today she said he is doing great! She sent me a photo of him bright eyed, chipper and smiling…the nurses love him…the doctors are so pleased how well he is doing…((I’ve seen other’s younger than him post op and they do not look well, at all) My tip is stay active as you age…they walk 3 miles a day, he goes to the gym several times a week, eat healthy, are so very socially busy & they travel too… Engage in daily laughter, fresh air, be kind to others, keep your mind active and Praise God…
    None of us knows when we will pass away so make the most of every day…I like this Bible verse: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
    For everything there is a season, A time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. /// “Each Breath Is A Gift”…

    Liked by 2 people

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