Saturday, 22 November 2008

Geriatric Meanderings

Every time I walk Tango I am reminded of how closely my own aging life parallels his elderly meandering strolls.

Kenya bounds all over the place playing with sticks, chasing wild life and generally exercising every muscle. When I walk alone with her my own progress is more energetic and I have a sense of purpose, a destination.

Tango strolls and seldom in a straight line. We avoid changes in elevation as much as is possible in this terrain. He simply follows his nose from one interesting patch of snow or grass to the next, stopping to pee every so often, and I follow. His peeing seems random but it is likely some almost forgotten memory of sex or power that starts the flow. And when it starts it is seldom any kind of purposeful stream that emerges. Rather he dribbles absent mindedly in a sort of zig zag pattern walking and peeing simultaneously.

Occasionally he seems to be on a trajectory whose destination has been pre-determined and he forges ahead, sometimes fast enough that I have to let go of his leash or risk being dragged off my feet on these slippery hills.

Every since I really retired (a couple of years ago, not 11 years ago when I quit my paying job), my life, like his walks, has become somewhat aimless. Oh I sniff the flowers and pay attention to things that catch my fancy, but the energy and purpose that marked every aspect of my life have dissipated, like perfume in a breeze. Today I choose whether to exert myself or to take on a project, and I have no interest any more in the bigger projects that demand months or years of my life.

I quite like this stage of being. I like small felting, knitting or pottery projects that can be picked up or put down at will. I like being able to rest or play in between.

Tango goes for a walk and then sleeps on the warm floor for double the time he exerted himself outdoors in the nippy air. I was once a Type A personality whose work was her play. Now I am more like Tango ... a little exertion ... a lot of relaxation.

I like my life but I do not feel nearly as productive as I did when I was teaching or writing seriously. A big difference now is that I am content to say "I am" rather than "I am a teacher or a writer".

Like Tango who is content to be a dog whose greatest pleasures are to be found in a food bowl or a caring human friend, I am content to be a woman who enjoys friends, food and wine ... with a few spices like felting slippers thrown into the mix.

And like Tango, I can be fooled into thinking my life is more exciting than it is if someone offers me a handful of kibble and tells me the bits and pieces are treats.

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