Sunday, 13 October 2013

How Did That Happen?

Mark Doty is daunted by the implications of turning sixty:
All my life sixty has been a demarcation point, a line in the proverbial sands of time, and when I try to visualize a person at sixty what comes to me are received images, old news. I suspect I'll be struggling with this for a bit. Five years ago, when I was a guest at Stanford, I wandered into a thrift shop in a neighboring town and found a sweater I liked, a copy of a vintage black pullover with a nice coppery stripe around the collar. When I took it up the counter, the woman behind the cash register said, "Would you like the senior discount?" I imagine my face crumpled a bit, because she immediately said, "You only have to be 55," and then I found myself fighting back tears. It's a little theatre of mortality, that sort of moment. It asks you to attend to the cumulative changes in your own body, to the odd experience of that current that seems barely to move at all and then—as a perception so universal as to constitute a cliche of aging goes—suddenly there you are. My sister just wrote this to me in a birthday card: I work up one day and I was old, how did that happen?

No comments: