8.5.2022 – only humor and

only humor and
humility allow you to
endure senior life

Only humor and humility allow you to endure life as a senior with its clear view of a mile-high, neon-lit exit sign. I offer suggestions in the spirit of one building a rickety bridge across a deep ditch full of venomous snakes. At dawn tomorrow drop your cell phone in the toilet during your morning pee. In 1944 people averaged forty phone calls a year and now they’re over five thousand. Your cell phone time can be spent growing vegetables and learning to cook. Keep your lights turned off. All these electric lights are heating up innocent nature. Look out the window on a night flight and so much is ablaze for no valid reason. The world is running out of potable water, or so we are told. When you pour a glass of water finish it even if you have to add whiskey to manage. Fire a large-caliber bullet into your television screen. Avoid newspapers and magazines and movies, all of which have been unworthy of our attention. I will allow fifteen minutes a day of public radio news so you won’t lose track of the human community. I want to say to give your excess money to the poor but other than being generous to my larger family and friends I can’t seem to manage this, so ingrained is my greed. Naturally we all fail. Just last night I watched a few minutes of a BBC program about how women as young as fifteen in England are having plastic surgery to make their vaginas more attractive. Seriously. I kept hoping that the cast of Monty Python would pop out of the woodwork but no such luck. What chance does a fiction writer have in such a world?

This passage was written in 2011 in an essay titled, Caregiver, in the Toronto literary publication, Brick, written by the late Jim Harrison.

Many of Mr. Harrison’s essays like this were pulled together in a posthumously published in the book, A Really Big Lunch.

The front piece states: The pieces collected in this volume have originally appeared in Smoke Signals, the Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant newsletter, Brick, New Yorker, Martha Stewart Living, Playboy, Edible Baja Arizona, Big Sky Cooking by Meredith Brokaw and Ellen Wright, The Montana Writers’ Cookbook by the Montana Center for the Book and the Montana Committee for the Humanities, and Molto Italiano by Mario Batali.

How did I get this old?

My wife is quick to recognize any form of ageism while I resist the idea that I am marginalized by the fact of the year I was born.

Yet yesterday at the beach, sitting by a young couple who had established their place on the beach with towels, blankets and hampers in the face of an incoming tide, I could not help but acknowledge that when we tried to engage them in conversation as they moved further back up the beach, that the last thing on the minds of these two people were:

1)There were ‘older’ people on the beach. Didn’t know that was allowed.

2) Older people on the beach in SWIM SUITS (ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!)

3) These older people were attempting to talk them as if there was anything they could say would any bearing on their world. Oh COME ON!

I don’t think the young man could have been more surprised had the sound of airport boarding announcements calling his name suddenly boomed across the beach.

He didn’t stop but slowed for a moment and acknowledged that he had heard our voices then mumbled something about tide … beach … wet … heh heh heh until he was gratefully out of our sightlines.

My wife and I had to look at each and laugh.

We imagined these young folks having dinner later and saying, ‘could you believe those old people on the beach. They were alive. They tried to talk to us! Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

Okay we are older.

It isn’t catching.

Maybe we do have a clear view of a mile-high, neon-lit exit sign to life.

That doesn’t mean you do.

But I find it hard to say much.

I was the same way.

Those silly old folks are so silly.

Ah well youth is SO wasted on young people.

Boy howdy am I feeling old.

And I do like this list of suggestions from Mr. Harrison.

IE:

At dawn tomorrow drop your cell phone in the toilet during your morning pee. In 1944 people averaged forty phone calls a year and now they’re over five thousand. Your cell phone time can be spent growing vegetables and learning to cook.

Keep your lights turned off. All these electric lights are heating up innocent nature. Look out the window on a night flight and so much is ablaze for no valid reason.

The world is running out of potable water, or so we are told. When you pour a glass of water finish it even if you have to add whiskey to manage. Fire a large-caliber bullet into your television screen.

Avoid newspapers and magazines and movies, all of which have been unworthy of our attention. I will allow fifteen minutes a day of public radio news so you won’t lose track of the human community.

I want to say to give your excess money to the poor but other than being generous to my larger family and friends I can’t seem to manage this, so ingrained is my greed.

Sadly, I have to agree that while my spirit is willing, I am weak.

Naturally we all fail.

But it is fun to think, to imagine that I might do these things.

That exit sign is coming up.

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