Sunday, August 10, 2014

Age and Change

I was talking to my son Jules this morning. “I wish we all lived on the farm and you just painted,” I said. Dad,” he said, his tone partly beligerant, “I want to tell you something. I love what I do. I’m good with computers, really good. It is what I do. It’s my art now.” “OK,” I say. “I know that. I just don’t understand it.” “No one does,” he said. “But I love it.” “You’re right,” I said. I gave in instantly because he is right. “I don’t know squat about computers. I’m just archaic. I’m from a different world,” I said. “You like computers more than you think,” he said. “You depend on a better made car, on hospital equipment, on new medicines, on airplanes, on your TV and air-conditioning.” I didn’t tell him I wish I didn’t. “You’re right.” “OK.” “You are right. No one understands what I do when I write, either.” “No, they don’t.” “We thought that if you worked words into what you felt and thought, you created something for everyone. If you did it well.” “Yes.” “And that there would be someone to read it. Anyway, I’ll try to change. And not just for you. I need to learn the difference.” He knows where I’m coming from. Maybe I don’t know either world, mine or his. But it’s true. The entire world now is a step out of my sight. I recognize changes,. I see everyone hooked on cell phones and thinking in ways that computers have influenced them. They have changed my thoughts, too. Maybe I don’t know how much. Could I understand the world from a contemporary viewpoint now? What would that do to my brain? Make it smarter, yes. Make me broader and more realistic. Open up a world of things for me to pursue. It would make me think like them. This is everything I’m trying to avoid. Living as long as I have, makes me care about the past, about my friends and family who have died, my experiences which have gone away, and my dreams which have been surpassed. Holding onto the past is not logical. But the past is visual and visceral in my head. If I could change—if I could see, beyond the context of what I already know, as if I were young, and innocent in a way, ready to listen, to see, to be startled again for the first time. That’s the rub. New flowers tend to grow from old branches in the same way. Imagine a petunia’s being a rose or a gardenia’s being a tulip. How beautiful the concept of change is. My eyes widen at the idea. Like renaming the sun or the moon. Like calling love by numbers, not words. Or seeing memories through the future. That’s the key: the utter impossibility yet the absolute experience of everything. Its incomprehensible nature makes our lives dream like. What is, is a thing that beats with our hearts and lights up our eyes. It just requires our breath, one at a time.

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