I have deserted my post here for two years and want to get back to writing for and about people who are over 70, under 100, of pretty sound minds and with bodies that keep going back into the shop. Seeing my husband on his journey off the planet for the last 24 months was the focus…that plus dealing with the earthly departures of brother, son and daughter have more than knocked me about and off my line of work, which is writing for you.
As I write this, I am packing to move to a new way of living in a continuing care place where you can dance around the campus as an independent geezerina, but know that assisted living, memory care and even skilled nursing are at hand should you need them. I will be setting up a writing desk there next week and getting back to you.
Here, to start, was something I wrote at the beginning of the Covid lockdown. It is just as true today as it was then.
The Barnacle Theory of Life
Barnacles….marine undesirables, clinging sea-shelled critters. They grab onto and weigh down everything from sea turtles to boats that have to be put into dry dock to scrape off the cluster of heavy shells. And then there are the barnacled whales. If you don’t already feel sorry for whales, Google whales and barnacles.
Well, imagine humans, but imagine them being weighed down by invisible barnacles….burdensome emotions and regrets. I have this theory that we are born without barnacles, no ponderous experiences and thoughts have yet attached themselves. But as life commences, we get these imaginary weights…the bad things that happen in every life that pull down our spirits, prospects and hope.
Could be bad parents, addictions, mental illness, job disappointments, poverty, bills, divorce and the deaths of friend and family. (We are all orphans by this time of life.) You have your own list of barnacle events, happenings that squeeze the life right out of your spirit and weigh down hope. Maybe take time here to inventory your own barnacles. Everybody’s got them. Writing your truths in a journal is a good way to take stock.
You may think I am off the chart here, but I see this Covid lockdown as a chance to go into dry dock and get your spiritual barnacles scraped off, emerging lighter and more buoyant at the end of these solitary months.
Yeah, easy to say. How do you scrape off a spiritual barnacle in the middle of a pandemic? Well, gratitude can melt some barnacles. Gratitude is often talked about, occasionally used, but needs to be practiced on an expert daily level if it is to have an effect on outlook.
But why should we geezers be grateful? We have lived most of our lives, are falling apart and can no longer even go out to eat pizza, drink beer and stay out flirting until midnight. You’ve got your own list of good things, but at the top of mine is the absolute miracle that in this unimaginably huge universe, in a constellation of stars called the Milky Way, near a so-so star called the Sun, on a blue planet that actually has water and life, a wiggle of a sperm hit an egg decades ago and that became me. What are the odds of that?
What are the odds of you? So the fact of existence against all odds is certainly something to mull over today. Makes our own little emotional barnacles seem insignificant. Looking at the ocean has the same effect. Best of all, at night, in the ocean, floating on your back, looking at the universe…real remover of any barnacles.
There are other and perhaps easier ways to scrape off the weights of life: Take music. Why do you not have your favorite music on right now? Why don’t I? It’s already in front of me on my computer. It’s on my cable TV, my radio. Get to it girl. Oddly enough, a mix of country music, Beethoven, John Denver and Bach do it for me as does any Dixieland jazz, especially if that jazz has a sax somewhere. Is there anything a saxophone does not make better? Sonny Rollins and Stan Getz can melt barnacles.
And then there are pets. Those eyes that see through you. Well, maybe they just see the possible liver treats coming from you, but, unless they bite, growl or throw up on the couch, they are front line barnacle removers.
As are flowers. If I could not retreat from the hard things in life into my lavender and roses, I would sink beneath the waves…and you know the current waves. They are named Covid, Politics, Climate, Economy and Loneliness. Who knew a rambling rose could be a protector against these things?
And, of course, there are friends and family, the other inhabitants of the blue planet. Meetings in the open air, Zooms, phone calls…(those still exist)…emails, texts…everything except carrier pigeons to keep in touch and remember you are part of a big tribe. Also, if you know someone, a so-called friend, a complainer, who has repeatedly weighed down your spirits, a lockdown is a great time to distance. You just can’t meet to go to the movie. Or anywhere.
All the above can lighten the load, but protecting yourself against incoming barnacles is smart too. Maybe we will emerge lighter from lockdown if we avoid the big weights of the media….the constant chatter, the alarming headlines, the lies, the anger, the always breaking news. The clue is to not let that news break you. Cut down the media input and the barnacles don’t have such a chance to attach.
So that’s my theory….The Barnacle Theory of Life. Does any of it make sense to you? Your comments are welcome. Thanks for reading. Mel