I noticed something the other day as I was walking down a set of stairs from a third floor to ground level. I’ve walked this same staircase for ten years or so. The thing I noticed is that I was using the handrail. I wondered how long I’d been doing that. I was almost sure I hotfooted it down, oftentimes two steps at a time. I suddenly realized that isn’t so; I go slow and use the handrail.
Like most men, and all old coots, I don’t notice things, at least right away. Like the “new” curtains in our kitchen I commented on only to be informed they’d been there for several months. Or the “new” hanging plants on the porch that had gone from seedlings to full bloom. Okay, that’s a flaw, not noticing things of that sort, but not noticing how I travel up and down a set of stairs? That takes the cake. Who would notice, if not me?
It got me thinking, this dealing with old age adventure that I’ve been on for nearly two decades. When I look back at the starting point, I laugh at myself for thinking I was old then. Hopefully in the future I’ll feel the same thing as I look back to this moment and my use of a handrail epiphany.
I started to take a little inventory to see what else I hadn’t noticed. I came up with several; I’ve stopped hopping around the room trying to get into a pair of pants, trying to avoid crashing into the sinks or the bathtub or the wall and putting myself in peril. I sit down to do it now; while I’m there, I slip on my shoes and socks. No sense bending and stretching to perform that chore.
My list is longer than I thought, but the real eye-opener was the number of strings on my guitar. I’d taken off the two lowest ones years ago; they add to the richness of a chord but aren’t essential. Now, I’m contemplating the removal of another string, because the index finger on my chord hand gets an attitude at times and won’t bend, preventing me from playing a chord that is essential in thousands of songs that can be played with just four chords. Three chords won’t do it; the only way I can get back to a four-chord level is to lose a string and play enough notes in that chord to “fake” it. I guess that’s what old age is all about, losing the music, one guitar string at a time. And then finding a new way to sing a happy tune.
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