Thursday, January 1, 2009

Catching up, Straightening up

Some straightening up today -- which seemed a fitting activity for a new year's day. I found a notebook in which I had kept some clippings I thought I'd use in this blog but they got buried. I'll get to them, I think, now that I know I have them and perhaps add to the pile. For now, a quote from poet Robert Bly.

We did not come to remain whole.
We came to lose our our leaves like the trees,
The trees that are broken
And start again, drawing from the great roots.

I have recently read another poem by a person struggling to know how to write poetry. The poem painted a picture of an elderly couple in stereotypical old age distress, he slow to remember things, and struggling with physical ineptness, and she in serious pain, wondering if she had enough medicine, perhaps enough money for more. Many people certainly do have these problems and more. It would be dishonest and destructive to deny the deficits of the elderly. But that is not all people nor all the life of the people who do have the problems.

One of my clippings has a headline saying the elderly are, by and large, happier than younger people. They were not talking about wealthy/healthy older people, they were talking demographically, statistically. A great many older people have learned to appreciate simpler things, know the importance of noticing what is beautiful around them, are glad for what health and good things they have. They may have to medicate the pain, may have to worry about the money to pay for it, may forget this or that more or less often, and walk more slowly, can be clumsy. All that; as in Bly's poem, they are broken [by the storms of life that they have lived through] but like trees they have deep roots of experience. I don't want to be soppy or to minimize the negative but I am optimistic, I see older people who are active and interesting and very much involved in living.

No comments: