BIG Questions

It seems that for all it’s feet-dragging and lallygagging, this year has gone by fast. Yesterday I went out and picked some apples with Elizabeth. She’s a real cook. I’m not. I only wanted a few. The best thing about it was the beauty of the apples on the tree.

So I took some photos and brought home four or five apples. The birds, deer and raccoons need their fair share, too.

I have so many incredible memories. Some of my discomfort lately is that I don’t want to live in them, but I’m not sure where to go. Yesterday I got somewhat jazzed at the thought of returning to San Diego for my upcoming milestone birthday (who said? Oh yeah, the Bible…) I checked airfares, AirBNBs, planned the trip in my mind and woke up this morning knowing that isn’t happening. I’ve been there and done that. Without a time machine, the trip I would take is impossible.

Last night I read an article about a guy from California who, sight unseen, bought a house in Billings, MT. He was happy because it was so inexpensive ($719,000). That’s NOT the Billings, MT I knew, but nothing is the “Billings, MT” I knew. He has the idea (illusion?) that Billings is healthier than California. No. I guess he hasn’t seen the giant, graphic billboards advising people not to use meth… I’m sure he’s never lived through a Montana winter with two weeks of -40 F temperatures and little sunlight. I love Montana but like all places it’s REAL.

People do so many things based on their idea of how things are. Me too. All the time. He has the idea that Billings is not moving as fast as California; he’s not thinking that every person like him who makes that leap is changing Billings (and all other places…)

Change is the nature of things, maybe particularly (but not only) in the human-driven world of which I am a part. Resistance to change is a huge power in human reality. It’s been a “force” leading to some of the bigger problems we as a species confront today.

I remember when I was growing up there were markers on the trail in front of me. Starting school. Becoming a woman. Getting into college. Graduating (several times). Finding a job. Getting married. All clear markers, markers one could reach, ignore, reject or fail. The marker ahead of me at 70 doesn’t bear thinking about, and I realize that THAT is the kicker.

After Elizabeth and I finished picking apples, we took some to my next-door neighbor. We chatted for a long time together and “the” subject came up. “After 60, stuff starts happening,” said my neighbor.

I’ve often lobbied (unsuccessfully) for humans to be born with a little book that details the health pitfalls and challenges ahead of them. Silly as that sounds, we are born with that. Science is slowly gaining access to the litany of likely health problems waiting for everyone.

I’ve taken a DNA test and it’s pretty much told me stuff I already knew though in many cases I didn’t know there was an actual gene defining it. Here are a couple of things I found very amusing/interesting. One is apparently I am genetically predisposed to consume more caffeine than most people and I am more likely to run very fast in short bursts. The results of the test have been accurate so far but, in some cases, pretty meaningless as, with most traits, I’m “average.” Average based on WHAT??? I have no idea. Most people in the world through all time or most people who’ve taken the test? 😀 It doesn’t matter.

We can see a lot of the content of our personal “little books” by observing the older members of our family. In my family, a lot of things happened, but among those who were not self-destructive, were very long, productive lives.

I’m totally down with that, if that’s what’s in my little book, and if that ISN’T written in my little book, it doesn’t change anything. The thing is, I want the road ahead — even with its single, definitive marker — to be an adventure-filled interval of discovery as my whole life has been. The challenge now is to discover what constitutes adventure at this point in my life? What do I want to discover?

Another Damned Growth Opportunity?

Time casts a long shadow. I’m feeling that now. Four years of anger and frustration and bewilderment and “POOF!” I know the changes that need to be made won’t be “POOF!” but I’m wondering how much of that anger, frustration and bewilderment BECAME me?

Yesterday after Biden had been sworn in, I took off on my skis. The nordic club had laid track basically for ME. I wanted to be out in the snow while it was still cold and not sticky. I struggled to get one of my bindings to close, but I succeeded and took off. It was beautiful. Then, at the halfway point I decided to turn around because my bio mechanics is funky and one of my legs is 1/2 inch longer than the other and I’d been skiing with that leg on the inside of the curve when it should be on the OUTSIDE (think of a drawing a circle with a compass). Not long after I turned, I lost my balance (the snow depth is very uneven out there) and fell. I got up and more or less into my skis, well into one ski, but I wasn’t able to close my ski binding again no matter what I did. I ended up lugging my skis a quarter mile out of there. Not fun.

My balance until this year has always been pretty good out there. This year? No. Yeah, a packed trail is easier to ski on and it wasn’t packed, just nicely broken. And there’s the leg length problem. And there’s the fact that my glasses are whack. While I was skiing, I struggled the whole time to keep my feet in line and to remain upright.

Once I got to Bella (who loves deep snow, bless her little Jeep heart) and turned on my car, Mohammed’s Radio was playing the Byrd’s, “Turn Turn Turn.” “Fuck that,” was my first thought.

I was hurt, but not injured, if that makes any sense. I’m still not walking great and so on and so forth. There are bruises around my ankle where my legs threw themselves against my boots in the second fall day before yesterday.

The thing is, I want to go back out today, but can’t because of my ski binding and my body. The store says I should bring them in and that’s right, but today’s not the day. I want to change them out for automatic bindings that I don’t have to bend over to close or open. That’s what I always had (once I’d given up 3 pin bindings which are OK with me, too). When a person has balance problems, bending down to close something on the ground isn’t always a great idea.

On the other hand, I have begun to wonder if it’s just time to give up. As things are right now, I’m barely walking, but I know it will be better tomorrow and the next day. The thing is, if you can’t endure falls, don’t ski. 3 falls in two days.

I am still superstitiously haunted by Bella’s spooky radio and The Byrd’s singing, “Turn, Turn, Turn” is a semi-quote of Ecclesiastes 3. No one knows who wrote Ecclesiastes, but there is a case made for it having been written by King Solomon. In any case, these are wise words, and a part of Ecclesiastes 3 that isn’t often shared. I don’t know any rock songs about this:

“…10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 God has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.”

The part we all know is a lesson in acceptance: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens”

It’s strange we don’t go around saying, “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and do good while they live.” Personally, I think it would be cool if we did.

I expect that I will take the skis to the shop next Monday and see if I can switch the bindings. I don’t think I’m psychically ready to give up, but the problem is, it might be physical wisdom to hang up my skis. Life seems to be a process of becoming someone else all the damned time. I remember being young and wanting to “find myself.” The thing is whoever that “self” is, it’s like the horizon.

Like this little poem by Stephen Crane. I used to read it one way; that we have the right to pursue our dreams and no one has the right to stop us (Take that mom). Now I just think it’s a smart, experienced person talking to a child.

“I saw a man pursuing the horizon”

I saw a man pursuing the horizon; 
Round and round they sped. 
I was disturbed at this;   
I accosted the man. 
“It is futile,” I said, 
“You can never —” 

“You lie,” he cried,   
And ran on.

Twenty Minute Drum Solo

Yesterday, writing about my green eyes stopping traffic in China, I had to get a photo of said eyes. The thing is, along with the eyes, came my face. I’m nearly seventy years old, and I can’t expect to look like I’m not and the forecast is older, not younger. Still, I’m always shocked by the image.

I coulda’ combed my hair after being out in the wind, but it was all about the eye…

My best friends here in Monte Vista are around my age. Without many heart-to-heart conversations, we know a lot about each other. Actions are revelatory. Last year, during the worst part of my disability from my hip arthritis, the three of us went to a flea market where I saw skis just like my old back-country skis. They seemed to reach for me. I reached back and cradled them in my arms, not totally aware that I had just discovered something important about myself. It was more than nostalgia; it was identity.

“You’re going to ski, Martha?” asked E, astonished at what I was doing.

She saw into my heart at that moment. The old lady carapace fell from me momentarily, and E saw another Martha. Since that moment, she’s been the staunch champion of my geriatric ski dreams.

The Old Skis. The painting is the trail up to Garnet Peak in the Laguna Mountains in San Diego County with X-Country ski tracks.

One of my best friends, Lilliana Braico, is 93. She’s amazing, brave, inspiring, strong, beautiful. She’s an artist, still producing art. Her life has been like a film — and that includes tragedy. I love her very much and I’m so lucky to have her in my life, a beacon in the road ahead.

One of my favorite paintings by Lilliana Braico. She sent me the print. ❤

So, I’m an old lady. My “red Ferrari” is a pair of new skis that come out when the weather and snow are right and my bum knee is doing well. The trails were groomed again yesterday and I plan to head out this afternoon when it “warms” up.

I still crank up the radio when the classics’ station in Denver I occasionally listen to plays Steppenwolf even though in the interval (interval!) since 1967 I’ve loved a lot of other music.

My first husband said to me, after throwing my Steppenwolf albums into the dumpster, “There’s more to life than a 20 minute drum solo.”

Actually, that’s pretty much what life is. Play it loud.