Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

Sunday musings…2/9/2020

Sunday musings…

1) Pickle. As legend has it the name of a dog after which the relatively new game of Pickleball is named. About 1 in 4 courts in Florida are now lined and set up for this instead of tennis.

With apologies to my buddy Ralph the tennis pro, this looks like the next adventure for yours truly.

2) Season. As in “high season” and seasoning, the act of moving lock, stock, and barrel to someplace other than home during that place’s high season,.

Beth and I headed to the southwest coast of FL to see what the big deal is. Many of our friends and acquaintances have headed there over the years, primarily the west coast and particularly the area around Naples. It was pretty nice. Lots of varied choices for how you live. We were particularly taken with Sanibel Island and its low-key style.

Still, all in all, there is too much for us here in our little NE Ohio home, even in winter, to consider “seasoning” for weeks at a time anywhere, even during the teeth of our winter.

3) Decline. I wrote an essay some years ago about my Dad and how he had become physically smaller as he aged. He was so big, big in all ways both physical and metaphysical. You know, big like you were always safe in his shadow big. Remember? As he got older everything about him go so much smaller. Mom, too, but you always notice it more with your Dad, I think.

Do you remember that famous poem “To an Athlete Dying Young”? “Rage, rage against the dying of the light”. Visiting an area that is famous for its retirement communities and amenities is to visit a bit of your own future. It begins as you step off the plane and see 5 or 10 or 15 wheelchairs lined up in the jet way awaiting their passengers as they deplane. Restaurants and shops are all “accessible”. Decline is on display. Beth: “It’s as if you can see your future.”

Ah, indeed. But which version of the future is yours? We saw some folks who had aged very quickly. Again, Beth: “It’s almost embarrassing, like we are intruding just looking at their decline. Like we’re invading our own space, they’re so close to our age.” Yet there are others like our hosts Beth and Steve and my close friend from high school Tom who push back against age and infirmity. They meet each aging milestone or setback not with quiet resignation but with firm resolve. Perhaps not “raging” but rebelling. Not today, not this year, not yet.

Those who seem to do that best, push back at the inexorable pulls of time and gravity, seem to do so not so much from plotting and planning as they do from a kind of purposeful daily pattern. A bit of movement, whether it be what one could call exercise or not, but enough to battle both gravity and gravy. Something that makes the neurons move a bit, too (I learned how to play American Mah Jong), enough to fight off the pull of the familiar. The folks we watched who seemed to stay the youngest did both in a way that seemed altogether natural. Less rage and more routine. A routine of physical and mental movement.

One need not “season” to adopt the lessons of those who season well.

4) Mature. “I love the way you two talk to each other.” Our friend as Beth and I worked through the complexities of a little family crisis.

When you think of love what almost always comes to mind first is that fiery, fierce love in the beginning of the affair. I don’t have to describe what that is, right? After all, this is a PG blog and my Mom reads it, too. Any movie about love seems to be mostly concerned with that early stage, no matter what age the characters may be at the time. Some folks never get past that stage, always and ever chasing the next endorphin rush in the barrel at the expense of the tranquility and beauty that lies just behind the breaking wave.

It’s a shame, really. There is so much beauty in the quiet, tender acts of a love that has been years in the making. The quick squeeze of a hand as your loved one walks by. A tiny, knowing smile you share when you both have the same exact thought at the same time and you just know that he was going to be in the same exact mind space you were right then. You communicate with a gentle honesty that allows for complete understanding. Your happiness is magnified if she is happier.

Love over time seems to be about space. Sharing enough space so that there is no room for loneliness, and yet leaving enough space for each of you to continue growing. It’s a cliche, often a hilarious cliche, the couple who find themselves struggling when one retires and takes up too much of the other’s space. No room to grow if your recently retired husband Velcro’s himself to your hip. On the other side Beth and I saw the sorrow in the solitude of friends who are alone, no matter how it is that they’ve come to that place. All the more poignant when you saw that loneliness in a crowd. To a person each says it’s not the fire or passion they miss but the shared passage leading to those quiet, tender acts of a love that’s grown over time. Riding the waves. Flowing with the tides. A love that’s growing, still.

As we age, growing smaller by the day, it’s that quiet love shared over a lifetime that pushes back against the decline. The love that lives on in the eddies behind the surf. A love that continues to grow. One that will carry us home.

I’ll see you next week…




One Response to “Sunday musings…2/9/2020”

  1. February 9th, 2020 at 9:24 pm

    Lori G. Plante says:

    Beautiful and relevant Darrell. I love how you write and take the time to ponder and appreciate what is often ineffable.

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