Sunday, August 12, 2007

Turning Fifty

I just turned fifty.

Five decades. Where has it all gone?

Considering my aching body and tired bones, this milestone seems more akin to a millstone. But the mental image of a life in decline is even worse than mere physical complaints.

In decline? When you turn forty, you're stepping firmly into middle age: no better, no worse. At fifty the mid point vanishes somewhere in the rear view mirror. Your attention turns more acutely to the time remaining. How many more decades?

Edward Abbey said, "you owe the earth a body." He also said (if memory serves, and increasingly it doesn't) "ain't none of us getting out of here alive." How true.

My debt will be paid soon enough. I want my body laid in the earth beside Aspen and Kodi, beside Jasper, Juniper and Mesa, in a wood box made by my own hand. I've been meaning to get that coffin built so it will be ready, on hand, when (whenever) the time comes. My time comes.

Some take solace in anticipation of an afterlife. Life after death. Life after life. Edward Abbey (who else?) said, "one life at at time, please!" I wonder if he was referring to "born again" Christians. Exactly how many lives do they expect?

I say this here life, this one right now, fifty years of it used up, is all there is. And that's all right. Not just all right: it's good.

And so it's too soon to throw in the towel. There's much yet to do. Like eradicating sweetclover and sericea lespedeza from my tallgrass prairie restoration. Good and important work.

There's coyote song yet to enjoy (God's dog). Turkey nests hidden in the tall grass (a baker's dozen large eggs). Tiny fawns, white spotted (almost stepped on one, bedded down, motionless; momma said don't move!). A long anticipated Goat's Rue bloom (four pounds of seed, four years of waiting). A house to build.

Good work. Good life. Who could want more?

Copyright (C) 2007 James Michael Brennan, All Rights Reserved