Life is a Trip and Then You Die
From my Life After Sixty Series
Getting old is a trip…
So I was told by an older lady who came into an art gallery I worked in as a young woman.
She had the presence and stature of Maya Angelou, and fittingly, though my encounter with her was brief, it was memorable.
We chatted for a little while, which is something I love about working in small shops without a lot of foot traffic, that rapport you can have with strangers who come in off the street, often out of curiosity with no inclination to shop, which brings in a different kind of visitor than those intent on making a purchase. (I’m sure as a worker I appreciated this kind of walk-in “customer” a bit more than the shop owners did.)
We were surrounded by art so it was easy to talk about art and life and color.
She mentioned that purple was a color of transition.
I remembered aloud wearing a lot of purple when I was in college, and that I have a penchant for the color in my paintings also.
She seemed to know a great deal about color theory and she shared her reflections about color, and life, with me.
She was easily a couple of decades older than I at the time, maybe right about the age I am now, well dressed in colorful clothing, with excellent posture and an open, friendly demeanor. She had a way of speaking that makes me think she was a writer, a communicator, a force of nature:
And though I can only remember a snippet of our conversation, I remember after she left, wishing I could sit with her over a hundred cups of tea and talk and listen to her for hours.
At some point she made the statement that growing old is a trip. She shook her head a little and laughed as she said it, something I recognize now as a gesture of dismissal and acceptance mingled together, a thing I find myself doing as I approach these last decades of life also:
I’m not really old…Ahh shit yeah I am.
I struggle with the same equilibrium issues anyone who lives this long does:
I can certainly see it.
I can feel it in my bones.
Back, Shoulder, Knee is the new Rock, Paper, Scissors, (which if anyone understands the rules to that game, please share with me because I have always been mystified by it, and no, wikipedia is no help at all: Rock crushes scissors???; Paper covers rock???; Say What???).
I spend more time now with a heating pad coddling my sacrum, which sounds so oddly sexual but of course isn’t, sigh.
I spend less time worrying about my rear view, in my leggings, and more time looking through the windshield at the shorter, windier road ahead considering how to make the most of this last leg of the trip before the final destination.
But in my mind, that deep inner place that is me, hidden in the folds behind the more forgetful and slower parts that are my everyday brain, I feel things just as deeply, I experience life just as fiercely, and I am still as curious as a child.
Maybe even more.
Poetry moves me more, as does music, a walk in the woods, a beach, a sunset, travel, reading, rainy days and sunny days.
Almost as if the diminishment of my physical person is opening up a whole new world of spiritual experience and appreciation.
But I still have lots to learn.
And I still have things to share.
There are still things I want to see.
Yet the end of the trip is inevitable so of course I give it some thought.
And unlike trips I have made in the past where home waits for me at the end with it’s familiarity, it’s comfort, it’s warm embrace, I don’t know what waits for me at the end.
Mostly, I’m down with whatever it is, whether it’s an end or a beginning or something in between, as long as it’s not a burning cauldron of demons and fallen angels like those renaissance paintings hanging all over Italy seem to imply.
Life IS a trip, and although at sixty-one it seems that life is indeed short, like a humorous Facebook meme once declared, it’s the longest damn thing we’ll ever do.
So we might as well enjoy it, while we can.
Copyright 2019 by Ilona Elliott