Can I help you, sweetie?

ghfbeard10-20124

 

I am by most counts 76 years old. Not that it pleases me much. But I’m fed up with ageism.  It’s everywhere, like a fungus among us.
  • The doc says not to worry abut X YZ because, uh, well uh, ahem! – you know, at your age you might ..uh well-uh you know what i mean, right? As we grow older certain things do not work-as well, you know what I mean? Right?
  • The bored and distracted cashier at the grocery store assumes im already-a demented, doddering, simpering, half blind , weak old nincompoop who cannot find or then carry his own  groceries and so says: here let me carry them to your car SWEETIE/HONEY/etc.  I decline as politely as they were when offering.
  • It’s not that I wouldn’t enjoy being waited on.  No.  I decline because of  the packer’s behavior:  either s/he is, my  age or ojder and  looks like s/he is about to topple over just by himself — or because being young and strong, the packer has a look of blind+deaf+dumb indifference that says you cannot breach this wall in a thousand years oh boring old person.
  • There is no winning.  They want us whitecaps to lose their oomph.  Maybe when we are vital and aged ,it upsets some teenage universal order.  Who knows?  It does not matter.  When I declinebecausee of these reasons,  these slobber-mpommies inevitably come back with;     are  you sure DARLINGs
  • I get the same bs from some nurses, waitresses, bank tellers, Wendy’s order takers, secretaries vendors eyc ad nauseam.
They mean well but they dont know!
Sure the body chsnges over the years.  Just ask my pants. But so does the wisdom  of been-there,  done-that. Its simple and I demonstrated it this.   morning with our 1’ foot of snow. You just work fast so that your body is  done before your slow, turtle like brain knows it has hapoened.  Take a peek:
 And the next little floozie who calls me HONEY/SWEETHEART/DARLIN’ etc better watch out.  My slow brain might think she’s asking for a quickie — I might take her up on it, and she won’t ever again think we HONEY+SWEETIE+DARLIN’S  are slow, plodding slug like creatures incapable of our own little interpersonal explosions. She wont know what hit her ( neither will I but it will be fast there isn’t much to be quick about any more..) Or I can just tell her off:  Cut out the talking down to me (can’t say condescending:  it is above the 4th grade reading level — our just peachy national reading level average – -the tweet level of comprehension) HONEYLAMB, its rude, pushy and presumptuous. Need to know how to spell presumptuous?  Finally I could just watch as she laughs herself to death after I take her up on the presumed flirt.
One way or the other, it would be fondly to be hoped that SWEETIE/HONEY/DARLIN’ won’t ever mean the same thing again.
At least thats my own sweetie fantasy.  Going back for my mid morning nap.
 Now what was my name again, sweetie?
)😜😇

Perspective

We live in (yet more) turbulent times.  The expected orders are being upended, the familiar dreams are being destroyed, the economic system on which most of us have relied seems headed for the junk pile, our leaders are people we would earlier not have chosen in a thousand years.  It seems that we are experiencing the re-valuation of all values.

So I was lazily drifting through blogs, books and emails when I stumbled across the following.  I’ve shown it to a few people and all agree: there is here some validation of the woe of our times.  See what you think:

“Oh grim calamity, where have my years all  gone?

Have I dreamed my life or is it real?

Whatever I held to be something, if it were there,

Was it really something?

And so I slept and knew nothing of it.

Now I am awake and now is strange

That which was before as familiar as my own hand.

The folk and the land in which I grew up

Are now foreign to me—as if that all were untrue.

My earlier playmates have grown slow and old.

The fields are abandoned, the forests all cut down.

Were the streams not flowing

Where they formerly flowed,

My pain would be truly great

I must believe.

I’m greeted coolly

By  those who knew me well.

Everywhere the world is bleak

The moment I recall many a magnificent day

Which has now slid away like a splash in the ocean

Then, forever:  oh woe is me.”

Ring any bells with you?  My sense was that, essentially, this sums up a lot of how I have felt recently.  And says it more eloquently than I could,, for sure.

But there is another aspect to this also:  perspective, in the sense that, first, my impressions are not just my own particular insanity, and, second, that we have been here before and are still around to talk about it.  It appears that we are like the timex watches of ads when I was young:  we take a lickin’ but keep on tickin’

And why, you might ask, do I come to that conclusion about this:

Simple.  It was written 800 years ago.

800 years ago by an itinerant German troubadour named Walther von der Vogelweide.  Walther spent a lot of his life walking  —. Yes on foot in all weather, day and night at a time when the world was lit only by fire — from one Prince’s court to another. HJe composed his poems and then sang them to his audiences for food, shelter and any other reward which his benefactor cared to bestow.

440px-Codex_Manesse_Walther_von_der_Vogelweide

He turns out to have been the for many greatest poet of the German Medieval era.  Apparently some people back then thought so too. His works survive in 32 manuscripts and one of them has a record of the melody to one of his Crusade Songs, the Palästinalied.

For me, today, his words go well beyond just having great historical importance.   Historical importance is a value in and of itself for me.  But this occasions both a sad reflection on persistent tragic folly of mankind and in a roundabout way, an encouragement in these turbulent times of ours.   It’s pretty obvious that here is an 800 year old ode to the tensions in the Holy Roman Empire during his time, and that they are to unlike some of mine at least, here 800 years later in another time of tensions and struggles. Our tragic folly is hardly different today:  fractured governance, fractured values consensus, seemingly endless warring, repeating some of the same actions that led in 1932 to The Third Reich, reversal of the reverence for nature implicit in our former embrace of ecology, etc, and so forth.  Different bottle, same sour wine.

The questions then must arise:  have we changed?  Has our notion of progress been an illusion?  If it has not, even in part, then could it be that we are not fundamentally here to make this world a better place?  DO we need some deeper reflection on the persistent tragic folly we create?.

On the other hand, this man lived  in circumstances physically enormously more dangerous and trying than mine.  He lived in  a world lit only by fire.  He walked or, if he was lucky, rode or was pulled by some animal in his travels. In the winter, he did not have to worry about his cars heater and defroster working.  No impermeable snowmobile suits with fitted gloves, boots, headgear and facemasks:  he wore heavier cloaks and possibly leather boots.   There weren’t even buttons to use on clothes.  No radio, no tv, no newspapers, no mail service…  He depended on handouts for his food, drink and shelter.  There was no social safety net of which we know (have to be careful here not go judge then by now’s standards however).  Lifespan was shorter.  Diseases which we have controlled then regularly cut down whole populations like scythes cutting tall grass. He even engaged in some rather pointed and possibly very dangerous political poetry/song writing which could easily have been seen as Walther biting the hand that fed him..   And yet:  he survived and  left this world works of beauty that have endured 800 years.

Therein lies the encouragement.  Do we not have so much for which to be grateful, even if it becomes the stage on which we act or our age’s tragic folly?  Should I then be consumed by concern?  Where are the gifts that are bestowed upon us in our time? If we can be open to it, even the cry of human woe grasping at our hearts across 8 centuries can be beautiful—-to my ears the beautiful music of Walther’s words.   Think of a poem or work of some sort where the words and the rhythm of the writing pleases you very much.  You will then have an idea of what this man’s literary power was 800 years ago..

Walther seems a lot closer to me now than he did 50 years ago and yet his distance has grown by 50 years. Increasingly my reading of history uncovers how we have been similar over the centuries, how our humanity has been the same, regardless of the physical and technological conditions of any particular time.  I have a growing sense that we are all in all ages in this together somehow.  Why not?  Einstein said time is a delusion.  My dear friend Bruce asserts that there is no future and no past, just the same day repeated over and over with different perceptions of the same thing=and all for the purpose of learning.  Walther’s cry of Owê, oh woe, oh alas, ach Weh gives that abstract thought shape and color.  At least for me.

Such mulitleveled beauty in one cry of existential sadness!  If we did not know that Walther said that 800 years ago, we could think someone said it today!  His reality and beauty is then ours too.

If truth is beauty, then our true reality is beauty, not turbulence. Turbulence just causes us to find new ways to create and celebrate beauty–to love. That’s! the reassurance of Walther’s Owê.

With this perspective, do we really have anything to fear but fear itself? O in the end Walther leaves me with this one compelling question:

Owê,what am I leaving behind of beauty?

 

 

 

 

 

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