Well, you’d think that over the course of years, as your human income and dignity are enhanced (aren’t they?), your spirit too would soar and buoy you up.
So I might have thought till, the other day, my wife and I had a nurse make a home visit (as part of a Blue Cross Medicare plan). The survey of our health was thorough — many, many questions, plus blood pressure and measurement of height and weight.
When the nurse measured me with a tape measure and said 5 ft., 6 1/2 in., I refused to believe. For years I’ve been saying (claiming) 5’9″ (or just under if I wanted to be exact, which evidently I didn’t). I got out my own tape measure, and had my wife, Jennifer, measure me, and with much preening and a bit of overweening, I was able to stretch the mark to 5 ft., 7 in.
Oh, this was preposterous, was insupportable! And yet the weight of evidence suggested I was but 5’7″ on a good limber day. And my weight about 180 lbs.
Time, friends, to pull a long face and not be discouraged. To acquire gravitas as we let gravity do its work. We are pulled down with age, for sure, how can we help it, and get closer and closer, over the years, to the earth to which we’ll return. (Doesn’t an old man near death in Chaucer exclaim, “Oh, mother, let me in!”?) Some of us, for sure, seem to be diminished visibly, year after year. Some shrink and curl, like shrimp. Some stump about in the land, stamping their boots like Rumpelstiltskin and proclaiming their refusal to accept things as they are.
Better, could be, to accept our shrinking, and bloating too, as part of human fate. Yes, we may exercise, as I do. Try to contain our hunger and our thirst (here in the land overflowing with milk, beer, and honey). Rage against the dying of the light. And yet, diminished as we may be, it’s possible to maintain our dignity and even as we sink in the waves and bid farewell make a good show of it.