Saturday, May 2, 2009

May Day and middle age

This post has two unrelated topics. Or are they related? You be the judge.

First, yesterday was May Day. My daughter made a lovely May basket at school, the grass is lush and the tulips are at their apex. Wonderful! I must make mention of my maternal grandmother, Dorothy May Hart O'Hanlon, who was born on May day, 1919. She died in 1996. Every May Day I think of her a lot. She liked to laugh, joke, play games, tell stories, share gossip, eat sweets, purchase small and shiny baubles. She was a dream of a grandma--always thought I was interesting and smart and pretty, and she sneaked me as much sugar cereal as I could handle. Love you, Grandma Dot. Thinking of you.

Second. Middle age. I will turn 40 later this year, and not a day goes by that I don't ponder that. I hasten to say that I'm not at all afraid of turning 40, in fact, I'm comfortable with it. But I would like to wake up on my birthday and know that I'm living authentically. Hmm, that sounds pretentious. I just mean that it's important to me that I'm not spinning my wheels. That I'm not waiting for anything. I'm doing.

And while I was thinking these middle aged thoughts, I came across this poem. Oh, this poem!

"Foreseeing" by Sharon Bryan, from Flying Blind. © Sarabande Books, 1996.

Middle age refers more
to landscape than to time:
it's as if you'd reached

the top of a hill
and could see all the way
to the end of your life,

so you know without a doubt
that it has an end—
not that it will have,

but that it does have,
if only in outline—
so for the first time

you can see your life whole,
beginning and end not far
from where you stand,

the horizon in the distance—
the view makes you weep,
but it also has the beauty

of symmetry, like the earth
seen from space: you can't help
but admire it from afar,

especially now, while it's simple
to re-enter whenever you choose,
lying down in your life,

waking up to it
just as you always have—
except that the details resonate

by virtue of being contained,
as your own words
coming back to you

define the landscape,
remind you that it won't go on
like this forever.