Do not fall in love with a poet (not me, silly)

When I started writing this blog a few weeks ago, I intended for it to be an outlet for my light-hearted observations about being 68 and (I might hope) getting older.

That plan has two inherent problems. First is that I am not by nature a particularly light-hearted person. Second is that growing older is not necessarily a process that brings out anyone’s light-heartedness.

Not too long ago I stumbled upon the poem “Poetry Anonymous,” by Prageeta Sharma. I was searching for poetry about Alcoholics Anonymous. Sharma, by the way, is a young American poet of Indian descent who teaches at the University of Montana at Missoula. Montana?!

At any rate, I love the opening gambit of her poem.

Do not fall in love with a poet
they are no more honest than a stockbroker.

Having for most of my life wanted to be a poet and realizing that I am not dishonest enough to be such—I have so little imagination that I can’t make up any of the metaphors and similes and such that make poetry. But I think it would be dangerous to fall in love with me simply for my desire to be a poet.

That’s beside my point here. One line of her poem caught my attention. I’m quoting it completely out of context, but

How does narcissism assist you (?)

became the inspiration for this post. I had been wanting to do this since I began but was afraid that this would be absolutely too narcissistic to be of interest to anyone but me. So be it.

Here’s the deal about this posting. As I reflect on growing older—I have said many times that I expected some day to be 68 years old, I just didn’t expect it to happen this soon—part of the reflection is to wonder if I am the same person now as I was, say, 50 years ago. It’s a really interesting question. So one of the ways I’ve been thinking about it is simply to look at myself.

My look at my-selfs-past is somewhat guided by another poem, this by Emily Dickinson.

THE BODY grows outside,—
The more convenient way,—
That if the spirit like to hide,
Its temple stands alway                 

Ajar, secure, inviting;
It never did betray
The soul that asked its shelter
In timid honesty
.

So here are a bunch of my favorite pictures of me over the years. The ULTIMATE NARCISSISM.

About a year old—Worland, Wyoming.
`1`me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five years old (1950) with my older brother announcing the birth of our sister—Kearney, Nebraska. Our parents sent this picture out to all of their friends. The ’47 Ford was our family car until the Plymouth ’52 coupe.
`2`me and Richard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About 15, the three of us decked out for Easter—Scottsbluff, Nebraska. In 1958 we moved into a brand new house (parsonage). I don’t remember ever looking as dapper as this picture might lead one to believe I was.
`3easter2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About 40, the wannabe concert organist—Salem, Massachusetts. This picture was in the Salem Evening News as I was preparing to give a concert for the 300th anniversary of the birth of J.S. Bach. Someday I will write about the importance of that concert in my life.
`4Ghost of Christmas PastR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My 65th birthday (I threw myself a party)—Dallas, Texas. At this time I was living alone because my partner had died six years before. I was on the verge of becoming a hermit and dealing with chronic depression.
`5entertaining Harold3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over 65, practicing yoga—Dallas, Texas. I was still living alone, but I had finally determined not to let my isolation get the best of me and had begun to do many things to bring myself ’round.
`6bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over 65, substituting as organist in a Dallas, Texas, church. When the church where I was organist closed, I began substituting as organist at various churches, which I very much enjoy because I get to play the organ with no continuing requirement of planning and rehearsing.
`7organ_nR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sixty-eight, writing this blog this morning, Dallas, Texas. I’m sitting the window-surrounded breakfast nook of my inamorato’s apartment in downtown Dallas early (6 AM) and doing my writing before he is awake. I am in many ways happier than I thought possible at this age.
`8me today-5aR

So there you have it. My most narcissistic blog ever. But I want to know, am I the same person who rode around on a tricycle in Worland, Wyoming? I don’t know. I just don’t know.
Perhaps once again, Emily Dickinson knows (I seem to have Dickinson on the brain lately).

THE PAST is such a curious creature,
To look her in the face
A transport may reward us,
Or a disgrace.
Unarmed if any meet her,
I charge him, fly!
Her rusty ammunition
Might yet reply!

Where have all the bloggers gone?

Joanie. Unhappy.

Joanie. Unhappy.

Joanie is nine years old. Definitely pushing beyond catdom middle age. She was born feral and saved as a tiny kitten by an employee of City Vet in Dallas (her name, of course, was Joanie). Kitten Joanie was a mess, and by the time they spent money and time fixing her up (including setting a broken leg), they wanted a good home for her.

Enter the old fart (well, I was only 59 at the time) cat lover. I, of course, took her. She has lived uncomfortably in my apartment for nine years. She was mightily offended after a year here when the Cat Brothers, Groucho and, of course, Chachi moved in. Joanie does not love Chachi, but she has tolerated him for eight years. She tolerates his brother Groucho even less.

Now Joanie, for reasons I cannot imagine, has decided they both must go. Or she must hide. Her favorite place is under the bed. If I’m lucky, I can get her to come out long enough to have her picture taken. She has become a growler and hisser.

Joanie is about 60 in human terms, and she’s had it with these younger folks. I’m 68, and I still teach 60 nineteen-year-old university students every semester.  I haven’t had it with the younger folks. But I am getting tired. They are so strange (and they tolerate me about the way Joanie tolerates Groucho; I’m their means to an end—college degrees which will make them rich).

I have a problem in my right hip. How much pain did those old folks have to be in before they got new hips? Poor old things. I suppose there’s something creepy about a fat old man posting a picture of himself in tight yoga clothes on the internet for all the world (the thirty of you, at any rate) to see. But I want to demonstrate what I continue to do with my aching hip. Not bad, huh?

The old bridge.

The old bridge.

This writing was going to have a point, but I think I’ve forgotten what it was. It had something to do with Joanie looking totally disgusted with everything (doesn’t she, though?), and my being able to manage Setu Bandha Savangasana even with a pained hip (it’s probably what’s keeping me from a steel one). From grouchy Joanie (wouldn’t you know—now that I’m saying awful things about her, she has come out from under the bed and is lying in her favorite position on my right foot and purring) to my painful hip I was going somehow logically to get to blogs. I Google blogs and follow tags about old age, trying to connect with other old fart bloggers and increase my “traffic.”

Joanie. Happy?

Joanie. Happy?

A really weird thing happens to blogs about about getting older. They stop. The last month in their archives tends to be January 2010, or March 2011, or February 2007, or. . . you get the picture. All I ask is that, when I remember too little or my logic is even more bizarre than it already is—Chachi just came in and Joanie growled and left, by the way—someone please get WordPress to remove this blog. Sheeeeesh! I want to be immortal, but not by what I leave behind in cyber space!

When I remember the connection between Joanie’s growling, the pain in my left hip, and blogs without bloggers, I’ll let you know.