Browsing through our family’s recent vacation pics, my wife and I have decided we’re arrived in senior adolescence. It’s that awkward time of life where you don’t look or feel especialy old, but you’re quite noticeably not young anymore, either. Everything about you is definitely changing — less hair, more wrinkles, etc. — but, at least in photographs, it all still looks just a little half-baked and uncomfortable. We’re older, but we haven’t really smoothly settled into true seniorhood quite yet. Although my wife’s eyes seem to be subtly darkening to an even deeper hazel than they used to be, and they’re lovely. Or, perhaps, now that things are slowing a bit, I just notice them more. And I’m very grateful for that.
Other big changes are apparent as well: I’ve retired from corporate life and am now working part-time as a running shoe specialist for a 40 year-old, family-owned running specialty store. My wife is also retiring early from her 30-year corporate lifestyle (the only company she’s ever worked for) and is already on track for a new, slightly less hectic career with a much smaller company. Both of our daughters are grown and gone; the house is quiet, except for those times our friends or family (including our one year-old granddaughter, our first) come to visit.
So, many changes in the past 12 months. Running and sitting are still my constants, although those have also changed in positive ways. There is more time to run and train properly (we’ll see about that at next weekend’s 50-mile race in Kansas), and more time for my Zen practice. There is more time to read, and I suppose more time to write, at least in theory, although reading and listening to music have occupied more of my time lately. it. I’ve been neck-deep in Plato and Keith Jarrettt’s solo improv piano recordings, and haven’t really been eager to crawl out of that place. Plato is very wise, surprisingly entertaining, and even moving, and Jarrett is a modern-day colossus who affirms the gifts of life and genius through just about every note he plays. We may not see the likes of either of them again, although fortunately Jarrett is still recording.
As I sit and run with all of these changes in my life, most of them positive and beneficial in some way, I feel blessed, sometimes beyond the capacity to truly notice and appreciate. I have to remind myself that each change is not really dramatic or unexpected; they have all happened one step at a time, one breath at a time. I just haven’t always paid attention as I should. But as I do grow out of senior adolescence into true old codgerhood, my prayer is that I will notice and celebrate the changes as they happen in a million microscopic ways, every day, every hour, with every step on the trails and every breath on the mat to help me properly mark the passing of my time.
As the Zen teacher Elihu Genmyo Smith has said, please enjoy your one and only life.