“But surely, there is a comfort to be taken from that,” continued the Count. “For even as the weeks begin racing by in a blur for us they are making the greatest of impressions upon our children.“
To see a murmuration of starlings is to be breathless, awestruck.
At first, a surprise. A sense that what you are witness to cannot somehow be real.
What am I seeing
But once eye connects with brain, only then can you step back to appreciate the mass of wing and flutter coalescing and expanding. A celestial bellows, breathing in and out.
Biologists believe these birds gather to protect from predators, safety in numbers.
This, for some reason, comforts me.
Non sequiturs are his specialty. To chat with this crusty sailor, now 75 years in, is to become a pupil in the art. We follow a thread that only he can see – woven through mish mosh of random word etymology, how time in a submarine offers essential wisdom about relationships, the importance of hip hop and boat building in overcoming trauma
We have a deficit of proper fatherhood, a result of the epochal shift from agriculture to industry
And we’re electing 13-year olds as a result.
Tonight, though, my mind is on one thing.
I’m turning 50
It makes me feel old
I wake with a start
Forgot the laundry
I stagger up the darkened stairs and quietly open the washer door. It still smells fresh.
In hopes of allowing the rest of the household their well-earned slumber, I ever so carefully and silently slide the t-shirt over the first 5-metre bamboo pole, securing it well above the stairwell below. Extend the sleeves and shape it, readying it to dry.
This work is by nature mindful, slow, paced.
Maybe it’s the bamboo
Right now, this moment, a single starling, darts about and draws my full attention. Fresh. Rhino’s shorts, Elephant’s T, J’s blouse.
They mean so much to me
I see the curtain on my mortality steadily, sneakily dropping, just as the world’s stage leans open to the boys
“Perhaps it is a matter of celestial balance,” he reflected. “A sort of cosmic equilibrium. Perhaps the aggregate experience of time is a constant and thus for our children to establish such vivid impressions of this particular June, we must relinquish our claims upon it.”
“So that they might remember, we must forget.”
From the murmur, an individual starling will separate itself from the flock. Venturing forth, it catches our eye, saying
I am here
Look at me
And as we get old, officially old, old enough so that a slightly older man confirms the truth, the years and moments pull away
And then gather back in.
We look back, and ahead, and back again. Moments dart away from the flock and demand our attention.
I am here
Look at me
And, we remember like they were yesterday. Hurts and regrets poke us, beaks sharp.
The memories that out stand, ones that stay, instructive and haunting, are here for a reason.
And with time, they poke and peck less.
Regrets, to be sure, are a sign that we’ve grown, that we are different
And all the memories, good and bad, blend, gather, and murmur together. Shielding one another for protection, from fear, and hurt.
My fifties were the best years of my life
Oh yes. I did my best work as an educator at 58.
You’ve been around the block. You’ve earned your authority
You should lean into it.
I still have moments of overwhelm
Worries about the future of sons and the future of the species converge
But today, now, I focus on how much of my heart is full
And make a choice to be optimistic.
We express gratitude for those who love us
And those we love
You should lean into it
And, as I dart back to the comfort of this staggering, impossible murmuration of moments, days, months, and years that is 50
I think I will.
*Quotes from Amor Towles’ A Gentleman in Moscow. Go read it if you’re growing older. Or even if you’re not.