I recently finished reading for perhaps the 2nd or 3rd time Richard Brautigan’s 1967 collection of stories entitled “Trout Fishing In America”. In the book, Brautigan would tell a story and would then assume the persona of the book’s title and would reply to the story as “Trout Fishing In America”. What this has to do with the aging process I am not quite sure, but as I started to write, this title popped into my soggy mountain brain. Perhaps it is because 1967 was a magical year for me and many other teens as we began our search for meaning and the purpose of life.
Perhaps the 50th high school class reunion that I attended in 2017 fits into the larger picture of aging in America somehow. And from what I have seen so far, it is not a picture that you would frame and hang up for all to see on your living room wall.
One of the first things that you notice about getting older is that time seems to pass by very quickly and one season follows another in a fast-forward sort of way. If you have been fortunate enough to have children, they have left the nest and have kids of their own and it seems like overnight you have become a grandparent.
Memories seem to fade or become so blurry as to be hardly recognizable. People have come into your life and people have left and sometimes it is hard to even remember their names.
The thought that started this train was my memory of asking my mother where my dad might be found. Her sometimes reply was that he was “in the library”. And as our collective consciousness will recall, the library was a metaphor for the bathroom. It seemed like most older people would take some reading matter with them to the library in order to facilitate the bodily processes that had apparently slowed down over time.
What was once a two minute hike up a well worn trail had/has become a meandering of sorts through hill and dale. As our metabolism slows, other things follow and that is only part of the aging process.
I have noticed that my skin is not as smooth as it once was. There are lines and scrapes and spots and light and dark areas that populate mostly my arms and legs.
Several years ago, I could work in the garden for most of the day without resting. I now do about an hours worth of work in order to take a fifteen or twenty minute break. All the work gets done but in a far longer time frame. Not a big problem, just another adjustment that needs to be made as we age in order to make it through the day.
I guess I could go on and on about all the subtle changes that take place as we journey down life’s pathway. What we will always find is that it is better to let go than it is to hold onto the way things used to be. As we make adjustments, we can move forward with a confidence that only comes with maturity. And remembering that you are only as old as that inner picture of yourself, which today may be thirty rather than the 69 or 70 calendar years your body tells you it is.