Another glorious fall; watching the golden leaves twist in the sun, then drop in the rain, my thoughts range over the arc of my nearly 70 years on this planet. Scenes from various jobs flit through my mind: labelling socks in a musty factory; clerking in a tiny bookstore; writing newsletters; conducting organizational reviews; coaching individuals and guiding them with poems. I recall the numerous courses, workshops and retreats that sparked my mind with ideas and weighted my bookshelves with sturdy binders, sometimes re-opened, often not.
My eyes soften as I remember relationships: heady teenage love; the awkward strain of my first marriage; the welcome bloom of my second; the ebb and flow of connections with family and friends. Some have endured, others have faded. All have taught me something about myself.
I delve into the cedar chest of my growth as a human being. Alongside the old yellowed linens of habit and narrow-mindedness are newer pieces of cloth, figured with threads of self-awareness and self-acceptance. There’s a length of unfinished material, reminding me that weaving a full human life is a life-long process. Every square of fabric – old, newer and unfinished – contains bright and dark panels. I would not wish it otherwise. My hands stroke each piece of cloth with fondness, and my heart floods with gratitude. How lucky I am to live this life, to ripen with age.
Here’s one of my favourite poems on aging. I take heart that ‘stumbling/ always leads home.’
You and Art
Your exact errors make a music
that nobody hears.
Your straying feet find the great dance,
And you live on a world where stumbling
always leads home.
Year after year fits over your face —
where there was youth, your talent
later, you find your way by touch
where moss redeems the stone.
And you discover where music begins
before it makes any sound,
far in the mountains where canyons go
still as the always-falling, ever-new flakes of snow.
~ William Stafford