Friday, October 29, 2010

Aging Thoughts

Typing a note about an 82-year-old woman and also knowing quite a few people in their 80s and some in their 90s still very active and sharp mentally, I am aware that the 70s are the new 60s. Which means 60 is 50, 50 is 40, 40 30, and 20-something almost a teenager. We really are getting younger as we live longer and better quality lives.

Friends who are aging send me the e-mails of “golden years” and various cartoons about old ladies and I often wish there were some way to affect these ideas to where we really could see we are golden as we age and to see the gifts that are part of who we have become. We aren’t quite there yet but there are individuals who are the exception and are amazing people.

Looking At You

The signs are there -
Mileage, passage of time, years of living
Etched in face and neck
And creaking joints.

Fifty? You dont look it!

Fifty is a look?
X(wrinkles + sags + bags) = 50 years of life.
If you have less (wrinkles, sags and bags)
You look terrific!
If you have more -
Well -
They just dont tell you.

But ME - the I -
Inside the look I wear (you see as me)
Sometimes is 2 or 3 or 5 or 10,
Every age I have lived -
And hardly ever 50.

Do you suppose that 90-year-old
They called
Remarkably spry and alert (for her age)
Do you suppose her I
Is only 2 or 5 or 10 sometimes?

Sure would never know it looking at her

Would you!

Published when 50 in To Listen to Flies: There Are Two Possibilities. Publication of a poetry workshop conducted at Rowe Conference Center in Rowe, Massachusetts from May 3 to 5, 1991 led by Andrei Codrescu

Peer Dumb

Surrounded by my peers,
I didn't know I was theirs
Until I looked in the mirror -

The above poem happened when one day I realized the people in my neighborhood and I were actually about the same age – funny how easy it is to see “them” and “us” – when actually we were all “us”.

And then, one day you realize the young clerk waiting on you in the store called you honey and another uses “dear” – and you begin to be aware that something has changed for you – you are getting older!


Somewhere around 50–something,
People begin to talk of aging,
Tricks for looking good,
Working out,
Needing glasses to read,
Aids to hear.
And with passing years
This process increases,
Adding maybe some aches and pains
or serious health problems.

I used to wonder and
not enjoy the conversations
with these seniors -
Who often didn't look the age
They had reached and
seemed to be reaching for
"You don't look that old!"

But when I got there –
I learned the why of this direction personally.
No matter what our "inside" age,
Our bodies change –
Doing that thing called
Getting old!

It's a hell of a shock
to find you couldn't avoid it –
To see your own wrinkles, lines,
to feel your aches and stiffness.

Hey everyone!
I'm still in here –
I'm not the old lady you see!
I'm not your "honey" or "sweetie,"
Underneath the wrapper you see
I'm still me!

Alas, few see me anymore –
They see my lapses, fumbles,
Not quite with it –
Wrinkled wrapper –
I'm not there anywhere
In their field of view.

For them – I'm gone
Before I'm gone.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Full Moon

As I wrote the previous entry – the moon was still up in the sky, full and bright shining into my west-facing window. They have names for this moon as they do for many other full moons – I think this one is the Hunter’s moon –

Full Moon

Full moon
Looks in at me
Through the window,
Here typing on my computer –
Staring boldly,
Brightly –
Just staring,

And we who stare back
Give it attributes and
Labels .

But the moon just stares
And stares –
None of the above!!

Sherry Swezey - 10/23/10


Saw a movie last night – it was Friday night at the movies at my church and the movie was Smoke Signals by Sherman Alexie. We watched, maybe 20 or so of us together in the darkened room and at the end, the lights were turned on and there was to be a facilitated discussion. I could not stay. I could not, having watched and listened to the film, start talking about it or anything that came up for me about it so I picked up purse and jacket and unobtrusively (I hoped) left. I took the movie and what I felt and thought home with me intact because -


Life is full of experiences
swirling about
free flowing,
waxing and waning,
through sound, light,
warmth, taste, smell, touch
Until they are labeled,
given a name

Which freezes them into being
what we call them
forever and ever.

In that moment
they cease to be ours
and become
what someone else
has said they are.

Sherry Swezey

Friday, October 22, 2010

Jack Frost has been here

Jack Frost was out playing
In the trees last night
In my back yard -
He wasnt doing serious painting yet -
A dab here, a stroke there -
As if to get a sense of what colors to use
And how they would look -
Or maybe -
These first blips of color
Are some color-coded follow-the-dots
For his apprentice painters
To fill in later.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Enough already!!

I’ve been doing something all my life – not on the grand scale it seems Unitarianism encourages, i.e., working for GLBT people, immigrants, people of another race, homeless. A lot of the time I’m struggling to survive – not against poverty or any ‘isms out there – just to survive in this life. So I do and do the best I can for where I am and who and what I am and no matter what or how much – there’s always someone saying I should do more.

Yet if one gets into a meditation practice, one has to learn to be still, to quiet the monkey mind, and just be, maybe follow the breath. It is okay to keep breathing.

Years and years of therapy have always seemed to be about changing how I am, as obviously I am not okay with that. So each therapist supplies his/her point of view to help me be more okay than I feel I am. Too bad they never learned that whatever it is I am is okay and didn’t need changing. Funny thing is no one ever worked on that.

So much missed in this quest – never being enough – for a lifetime. In childhood, I wasn’t enough because 13 foster kids were brought into the home. Graduating 28th out of a class of over 300 kids in high school, my father said I could have been valedictorian if I had tried. My marriage ended because my husband felt I wasn’t enough anymore for him. A therapist of 12 years quit on me. A minister of 9 years left all of us for another church – wasn’t that because we weren’t enough for him anymore?

Imagine, if you can, that just because you are, you are enough. And any doing something is to do because you want to and enjoy the doing, but your only real task in life is to just be. Imagine being loved just because you are – not what you do. That you are a precious human being. Not doing – being.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Weather and Love

This was the summer of too little rain. The lawns turned brown and bare, trees and shrubs struggled through - at last a week of rain - I can see all these growing things gulping up the water, able to restore themselves before winter. In other parts of the world too much water, i.e., flooding.

In a way the weather is kind of demonstrating too little, enough and too much which is similar to so much in life. Hard to find that middle road of enough. Thinking of love - too many have too little and I doubt there is ever too much. Like the song says, "What the world needs now, is love, sweet love, that's the only thing there is just too little of."

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Back Again

Now we are 3 - birdies that is. By age, Jockey ?17, Ginger ? 11 and Tori 9. We lost Billy also about 17 years old a month ago and it has been a very hard month for Tori as Billy was his buddy. Interestingly, along with his grief process, Tori has also launched into major new behavior - in the bird world, life moves on, painfully at first but new skills, new behaviors set in. Tori now "talks" just like Ginger with "little bird" and "wha cha doin" - as well as whistling that sounds just like a human whistle. Sometimes the grief takes over and he calls and calls and looks expectantly toward the windows and doors as if he expects Billy to reappear and I have no way to tell him Billy can't come back.