The Ride

It’s a jour­ney like no other, and the only way to make it is to live it. Here, 10 writ­ers ru­mi­nate on as­pects of aging

ZOOMER Magazine - - CONTENTS - Pho­tog­ra­phy Nigel Scott by Marni Jack­son

10 writ­ers ru­mi­nate on 10 as­pects of aging

IHAVE FRIENDS with can­cer – we all do. What I’ve ob­served in them is not a loss of hope but a re­fin­ing, a hon­ing, of what it truly means to hope. It’s no longer about imag­in­ing some bet­ter, dis­tant fu­ture; that’s off the ta­ble. It’s more about the task of seiz­ing ev­ery avail­able joy. Hope now means feast­ing on the pos­si­ble. One friend just flew to Lithua­nia to re­con­nect with her fam­ily roots. A col­league in his third year of Stage IV throat can­cer is off to France to visit a pile of rocks that are im­por­tant to him – me­galithic “stand­ing stones” whose ori­gins and mean­ing re­main mys­te­ri­ous. “In some gut-level way,” he shared on Face­book, “I think that to see and touch the stones again will di­lute the ter­ror of ex­tinc­tion that I live with now ev­ery day.” To me, that’s hope at work.

A third friend in re­mis­sion from breast can­cer or­ga­nized a choir and then joined a sec­ond one, which has opened up a whole new chan­nel of joy for her. (But don’t let me talk about “the up­side of can­cer.”) I re­call spend­ing time with another bedrid­den friend who was three days away from dy­ing. I brought her some sprigs of laven­der from her yard. She crushed them, in­haled them and feasted on their smell and feel, as if the laven­der were a trip to Paris.

The fa­mous line from a poem by Emily Dick­in­son de­scribes hope as “the thing with feath­ers,” a bird perch­ing in the soul. Oh re­ally? I’d say hope is the thing with claws – it can turn on you if you are only try­ing to es­cape your re­al­ity.

So my friends with can­cer have taught me some­thing about hope, al­though not in the su­per­fi­cial sense of “dreams com­ing true” or “the dark­ness be­fore dawn.” As we age or be­come vul­ner­a­ble in other ways, hope is no longer a to­mor­row thing; it’s about root­ing our­selves in the joys of the im­per­fect present. Or as Leonard Co­hen re­minded us in his song An­them, “Ring the bells that still can ring.” I think he would ap­prove of another hope­ful line from another poet, the Ir­ish-Amer­i­can ac­tivist Lola Ridge: “You are laden with be­gin­nings.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.