For nearly three weeks now, I have been trying to figure out why 77 is so much harder for me than 76. Somehow, 76 seemed livelier, as in 76 trombones or the spirit of 76 or Union 76, a place with clean restrooms when I was a kid and my mother had packed us off on another one of her road trips where she drove all night on the first leg.
I stand in front of the of the mirror. I don’t look 77 to myself, whatever 77 looks like. I spent a lot of time, money, and effort to make that happen. I am even okay with my body image for the first time in my life. I’m still having trouble with my feet because of the neuropathy and my stomach is a problem, but they have been problems all my life. This isn’t even the worst they have ever been.
My kids are okay; my grandchildren are all gorgeous and gifted as well. Larry is his usual fine self, charging along on his mission to bring peace, justice, and the American Way to the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
It’s just that three years from now I will be 80. In 13 years (the current age of my oldest grandchild), I will be 90. 80! 90! Are you kidding me? What if I live to be 100? That is an insane idea. More importantly, what do I do for the next 10 years—just in case they are my last? I don’t know that I can ever sit still even if it means a walker or a person service robot named Andy, after St. Anthony, the one who helps you find things. Half the steps I take in a day involve finding my glasses, my drink, or my phone, which a robot should be able to accomplish. I should also be able to ride on him when I need too.
My main concern about being 90 though, is not so much physical as it is the fact that things are changing so fast, I fear I will no longer be able to understand anything at all, from commercials on TV (some of which I already do not understand) to cyberwars in virtual reality. In his book, Ray Kurzweil talks about the moment computers can think faster and better than humans. He calls it the “wall” and says that change will happen so fast we will no longer be able to predict what will happen. That may have happened all ready as far as I can see.
How does streaming work? Or, for that matter, how does TV work? I sort of understood radio and phones, but TV? What is up with blue tooth and microwaves? How can Alexa turn my lights off and on? How does a 777 get off the ground? People have even tried to explain these things to me without success. So, I guess engineering is out as a hobby.
Assuming I have another ten years when I can do what I want (which is a big assumption), what would that be? Anything that involves memorization is clearly out—no acting, I guess. Writing is in, but it is so hard some days it can’t be considered fun. I will write, of course, but I can’t sit and type all day long. Maybe I’ll take up painting again. I like that it attracts my complete attention, but it is a mess and messes give Larry apoplexy.
We will travel of course. Larry’s mad for Namibia. He’s up for a cruise of the Mekong River. He’s ready to trek in Nepal again. I’m more about seeing New York or Paris again—maybe Japan if Larry decided to climb Mt. Fuji. I’m more of a museum person than a trekker.
I could redouble my efforts to become an Instagram star. You never know when death is going to start trending. Unfortunately, you have to think about worthy topics to discuss on a regular basis, write down what you think, make huge cue cards, then look like you are not reading them. You have to catch full frontal light in the morning, after spending an hour on makeup and wardrobe so you look good in morning light. It’s a process, but then, I am 77 and have time for process.
Life is, after all, a process and I am a process within it, a wheel within a wheel. I remember at 45 first being terrified by the turning of the wheel. I imagined the Universe to be rolling through empty space, creating time, even though there is no such thing as time outside human existence. I cried out to the midnight sky, “Stop it! Stop moving; stop expanding; give me a moment to breathe.” But it didn’t. We are stuck here in the ever-grinding cogs of the universe.
Still, time can fly or drag. Painting makes it fly. Making Instagram clips takes forever. So, maybe Instagram is the answer after all. It makes the wheels appear to turn slowly. Furthermore, it is a decent justification for fancy makeup and new clothes. Then, I’ll paint in the afternoon to speed it all up again. Perhaps, this will give me the illusion of control.
Of course, it’s possible that what with Kurzweil’s wall coming, there is no sense in planning anything and I just need to take it as it comes, making what meaning I can of it and using virtual reality for that trek in Nepal.