cat·a·pult : a device in which accumulated tension is suddenly released to hurl an object some distance, in particular.
Two times in the kitchen—hurrying like a fool. One time on the terrace when I tripped over a stool. Three times in the hall when I stumbled on the stair. The wall my forehead hit each time needed no repair. Not so my skull which needs new paradigms inside of how to live my life by slowing down my stride.
I am scared of my subconscious—it’s refusing to be tamed. If I do not learn its language, I’m afraid I’ll soon be maimed. When steps and mops in pails and stools taught me not at all, my stubborn subconscious launched me at a wall, totalling my car—a frighteningly close call.
Bruised and sore, I hear the words the doctor said, “Take these pills two times a day and spend five days in bed.” Six bad falls? One totalled car? I finally do the math. Something wants to put obstacles in my path. It says, “Take off the running shoes. Reduce those trips to town. Loll around a few days more in your dressing gown. Never do more than one thing. Give each thing its time. To think I can do all of it is simply asinine. Why do I think that I should be continually busy? Why go up on ladders when I know it makes me dizzy?
The less I do it seems there are more I shouldn’t do’s. Somedays it’s an adventure just locating my shoes and cell phone and my glasses and finally, my keys. Then I drive to town for broccoli and come home with blue cheese. When did it get more difficult? It seems this is all new, and yet I wrote about those falls a year ago or two.
A catapult propels one up over the wall and over every obstacle that could cause a fall. Why avoid the catapult? Why think that I should be the person I was yesterday—that one no longer me? Ironic that the catapult instructs me to slow down, leave prat falls to the stunt man and the circus clown. “Put some space around the things that you think you should do. Take some time to hear what life’s trying to tell you. All this beauty for your eyes yet often you don’t see it. That same beauty within you waiting for you to be it.”
Oh to be nimble, unfettered and young–– heedless, with yesterday’s breath on my tongue. Scuffed shoes unpolished and hair all awry, with nary a reason for white shirt or tie.
Chucking small stones, shooting rubber bands. Gritty black fingernails, scandalous hands sporting sand from the sandbox or silky black loam from digging for earthworms or sliding on home.
I’d like to be lithesome and agile and spry–– a long life in front of me before I die; but my years are numbered, my life’s nearly over. Gone is my past as a rambler and rover.
I sit on my porch and watch younger men take off for those places I’ve already been; knowing my wild years are too far behind me. I’m an Energizer bunny with no one to wind me.
Maddeningly, although I know I still dream, I forget them the moment my eyes open. Instead, I usually wake up with the first line of a poem on my mind. In this case, I used it as the second line of this morning’s poem.
How cruel of life at end of day
that all of us should fade away,
one head going hoary white,
ready to give up the fight
while all around it, fresher shoots
sturdier and less hirsute
push upward in the dawning morn,
the meadow to freshly adorn.
Careful near the pool edge, careful down the stair.
“Hurry” is disaster’s brand new nom de guerre.
All the things that in the past you might easily dare
are potential dangers hanging in the air;
so don’t stand on a ladder, or even worse, a chair.
It’s different being single than when you were a pair,
for there is no one with you to see how you might fare.
When coming from the pool, be sure the shoes you wear
do not slip upon the tile–this is your worst nightmare.
If your feet are wet and if they’re also bare,
when you plug in your curling rod, I hope that you take care.
Although I know you’ve always been nimble as a hare,
things all change with age. I say this ’cause I care.
Bones become more breakable and muscles tend to tear,
so please take proper care, dear, in your single lair.
At seventy those second chances tend to be more rare.
What do you value most, my friend? What carries you through life?
Have you friends and children? A husband or a wife?
If what we find of value in all the world contains
all we carry with us when youth and vigor wanes,
would you choose a portrait of all that you have had
that points your view toward happier times as the world turns sad,
or would you choose a camera that points you at the world––
all these younger lives than yours, about to come unfurled?
Whatever gives us life at first, then takes it all away
really only gives us what we have today
to value and make use of. So I want to be bolder,
looking straight ahead of me and not over my shoulder.
Though every hour has value, and every second in it,
the only time we have to spend is the coming minute.