Aging (explained)

Revisiting the earlier poem “Aging” I thought I’d try to write a little more about this idea; the idea that there is a different kind of aging, a kind of psychological wearing-down and fatigue that comes through spending our time in the shoes of our thinking, traipsing thousands of thought-miles, living thousands of thought-lives, in search of a deeper reservoir of meaning which we insist must exist behind the uncommunicative immediate presentation of things.  I suppose this might have been what Krishnamurti was referring to in his idea of “psychological time” and the fragmentary nature/fragmenting effect of thought  and thinking.

When contrasted with the ticking of the clock and circling of its hands, thought-time seems to be of a different order offering a different life, apparently without beginning nor end yet malleable to our purpose and direction, infinite in its ability to self-propagate and grow.  In this lies thought’s attractiveness as a plane upon which to live and a route for escape and safety.

However, thought ages us.  It tempts us away from the obvious.  It distracts us and relentlessly reminds us of the terror of meaning, so that we may spend no time at all in the fresh simplicity of the every-day.  And it is the every-day that is actually what we have most in common with.  The repetitive yet timeless occurrences like the changing light from dawn to dusk, the sounds of birdsong, the shapes of clouds, the sheen of rain on a road at night.  These things seem to speak to our own sense of self that doesn’t age, our own inner alertness to life no matter the age of our bodies.

For while there will inevitably be an endlessly changing content of our thoughts over the years as we grow older and re-position ourselves in relation to life, a bare tree in winter is a bare tree in winter, a bird just coming down to land in a branch is a bird just coming down to land in a branch.   A new moon in blue-violet sky is a new moon in blue-violet sky.  These things don’t age, life doesn’t age…and so, in an important way, neither do we.



Dwell less on your heart, its pains and beats,

Your chest and breaths remaining.

Less on the minutes and turning years,

Cut lines down your face unsmiling.

More on the loss of moments to thoughts,

How you seek but never find.

How you age with every departure you make,

One million rotations of your mind.

Until the day you say you’re old

And turn away ashamed.

From all the twinkling evening stars

And bird songs that don’t change.



Human Song

What would the world be like if we, like birds,

Preferred to sing, not utter words?

Played instead of typed on keys

Spoke not sentences but melodies.

Banged a drum or blew a horn

So in rage, swords not be drawn.

Bereft of music all language fails

But on string or wind somehow prevails.

Our muted sorrows in phrase concealed

Now in concert to all revealed.

No more vying for supremacy

Discordant voices back to harmony.


In the early days, after moving into No.44 with his wife and young son, he’d wondered if the place was possibly haunted. He’d heard from the previous owner that one of her parents had died in the property (she’d originally bought it for them as an easier place to live in for their ending years). He sometimes felt watched and sometimes thought that things had been adjusted.

Crouching down picking up leaves in the front garden, he’d often feel as though there was something standing just behind the front windows, hidden behind the passing clouds, perhaps the old husband checking up on how well he was tending his beloved little garden. Other times, back from work, he could have sworn the big wooden shutters in the bedrooms, though; now pulled closed, had been left open by him since the morning rush for school and work. Perhaps the old wife pulling them across as she used to do, to keep out that full moon which could be so big and bright.

More strangely, though, was how in recent times, he’d begun to feel as though he was a ghost too…as though it was he, not another, who was haunting No.44. Perhaps he’d been the ghost all along, looking out over the front garden, hidden from view by those dark, high windows. He was beginning to be unclear about whether or not he was really still here. His memory seemed to be tiring, losing its elastic strength to bring him and others back, letting them drift so far, far away, so the threads stretched thinner and weaker.

Sometimes, he’d wake with a start in the daytime. Where’d he been? Where was everyone? How’d he grown so old, so quickly? It wasn’t an easy transition, becoming a ghost. That, after all, was what was happening. Yet as he overcame the initial resistance and adjusted to being less clear on his limits, it started to feel more natural, more like when he was a child, when there was no room except for everything. What did it matter, he thought. He was still himself, wasn’t he, just like always…just a trimmed down, lighter version, let’s say. He could still keep an eye on things, just as well. Make sure the property was maintained and those large windows were kept clean and clear.