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Senior Luncheon Interview

YouthGroup interviews WiseElder lunch crowd

Notes:

(1) What do you recommend for improving our long-term health prospects?

Question met with quiet amusement.
“Honey,
I’m eighty years old.
My goal is to continue gracefully accepting my future losses.
I’m not sure that helps you.”

(2) Why have you done so well so far?

This is your idea of success?

When I was younger
I thought about healthy vocational goals,
like dancing and singing–

Ways to cooperate BothFun-AndWork solutions
stretching my more typical
EitherWealth-OrTired non-thinking.

It sounds like you found a long-term approach
for growing cooperatively healthy.

More of a daily philosophy
to not kill myself just yet,
than a long-term strategy.

(3) Looking back,
What healthcare choices would you approach differently?

Maybe I would look more toward future goals
to cooperatively thrive
To grow less frightened by past unfortunate competitions
to survive indignities of old age
in these paternalistic States.

(4) Looking forward,
Why might you choose
and not choose
to plan for long-term health for yourself,
for your extended family,
and for Earth?

I would include most plants as part of my extended family.
Although there are some aggressive weeds
to which I prefer to claim no kinship,
Republican or otherwise.

(5) When should we begin such long-term health planning
and development?

I’ve been waiting for eight decades.
Now, or even yesterday,
might already be too late,
even for my adult children.

(6) In what ways,
if any,
have you begun bringing your own adult childhood toward this great transition time?

Are you asking because you are young enough
to think you know the right answer?
Or because you’re old enough
to be curious about depths
and resilience
of early through late health development
for organic persons,
green plants,
and wealthy planet?

I am, I hope, just young and old enough
to be curious about why
those who plan for long-term planet therapies
also seem most likely conscious
of past health goals
competitively missed,
And others cooperatively still attainable.

Competitively missed goals…
Is that like old people without a shared nap-time map
of where we have been?
So feeling lost about tomorrow’s adventurous possibilities
for continuing long-term healthy sanctuary choices…

For me, long-term health planning is mostly about getting through today
and staying awake with you and your YouthGroup cohorts
on this journey toward WiseElder retirement.

I might recommend more healthy cooperation
toward achieving interdependent community wealth
more than RightWing toxic
competitive monoculturing aspirations.

For me,
and for us, I hope,
long-term climate goals
remain mostly about our extending family
on pilgrimate toward WiseElder Earth
as sacred Sanctuary
And secular communities
of cooperative
curiously continuing
health care futures,
More than competitively courageous and loyal Win or Lose
wealth hoarding
against my, and our, inevitable degenerating future.

(6) What happened to,
I’m eighty
with one foot in the grave already?

I reserve the right
to also focus on the other,
more curiously cooperative, foot.

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Tree Walk

I asked my beloved oak tree
if such a very WiseElder tree
could
and would
and should be mine
Unless, in the senses
I stand,
to smell
and hear
and feel
and taste and see,
in rooted solidarity
learned from AncientFamily oak trees
long before we met,
Here with Then and Now.

I asked my lovely oak
to invite me in to her forest
rooted matriarchal arms,
to let me swing on his strong-branched armaments,
to gently touch her organic latticed leaves.

But She,
of well past two hundred holonic rings,
said I was too old
to make love again with Her.
She worried I might hurt myself.

Yet, what a way to go!
I reply therapeutically
back through reweaving TreeTime’s
nutritional ecology.

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Succeeding Days

How old was I
when each succeeding year
each successive year
became each falling year,
each failing year?

How old was I
when each year fell away
as did each month and week and day,
both succeeding less
and failing more
resigned to fade out play?

How old is just right maturity
of days falling off
away?

My calendar begins with clearly given rebirth dates,
succeeds toward organic dusk conclusions
on a day and week and month
within a year not yet quite fully numbered
and yet already fading toward some numeric memory
for those who remain succeeding
more than failing
through days and nights of fears
and faith
our wins outweigh these latticed losses.

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Good Journeys

I have heard many moms repeat
“You never stop being a parent.”

Sadly, I don’t see or hear that quite so much from the dads,
although I know of remarkably nurturing exceptions.

I thought of this as my impossibly young,
yet oldest son,
nearly twenty-two,
stopped by for an early birthday present, cash,
before heading out in his car
with a fellow rap artist friend
on their way from this Atlantic coast
to that San Francisco Bay.

D.B. never drove away to college,
or flew off on a great summer excursion,
or even went off to a technical school,
nor the military.

He did try to make Job Corp fit.
But, two suicides
and one stabbing on his dorm floor
and he decided not to return
after Holiday vacation that year.

He has been the last driver of not just one,
but two, of my totaled cars.
The second crash he walked away from
was when a drunk young white male
hit him head on
in the middle of a gorgeous New England sun-bright June
afternoon
as he was coming home from his first,
and last,
out of home employment
busing tables in a casino diner.

D.B. was approaching the end of his three month probation period
when they let him go,
primarily for his ADHD challenges
with getting to work on time
with all the pieces of his uniform
clean and intact.
But, he also had trouble showing up
ready to set aside the dramas of his personal-political life,
which often feels like a race
and age
and gender profiled
and marginal
and commodified life.
It was hard to stay focused;
to be there when he was there.

Tomorrow D.B. and his friend since high school days
will see a slice of these continental States
from coast to coast and back again
for the first time.

I am ravenously happy for him.
I wish I could have given him wings,
some outrageous pile of cash.
My heart stops
when I notice how he is so vulnerable
exposed
raw
too often despairing and perhaps even terrified
more about himself
than intimidated by a hostile world closing him out.

Closing ranks
on all the ways his particular black life will not matter
in Earth’s vast history.
Not significant enough to be sure if it could become possible,
or even safe,
to love himself,
to allow himself a long and warm regard,
as I embrace him.

I don’t know if I could finish being a child
without becoming an everyday
relentlessly caring and nurturing parent.
I can think of nothing so binding both feet to Earth
yet so free flying impossible to control.

For many reasons,
whether despite or because of my single gay male identity,
I chose the second class Mommy Track
instead of going for the Ph.D.
And not just the Mommy Track;
I adopted only the older broken kids
who would never safely drive or hold a job,
or would never talk or walk,
or would never thoroughly clean off her own poop,
or sleep through the nightmare night,
or would not feel safe outside our home,
stalking the boundaries of life while high school friends head on and out
to colleges and new friends
while he struggles to tolerate two classes each semester
at a nearby community college.

It feels good to know I am needed
but frightening to realize I cannot retire from this parenting profession
except through my own growing incapacity.

These four charges of mine
remind me we are each such a precious gift
for each other.
I have never regretted my more generous choices
rather than less magnanimous.
Not necessarily because the return on investment has always been better for my kids,
but because those were the moments standing out most clearly
in my column for Fully Living,
rather than continuing to draw out a stingy half-life,
under invested in our shared future regenerators.

I hope D.B. and friend have the time of their young lives
as I have had mine,
and even better,
even better.

It is so much easier,
and comforting,
to have old and happy memories
when we have had both young and generously happy times,
seasons,
reasons to smile
and greet each fleeting dawn.

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Starting with the End

As a young avid reader
I always read the Introduction or Prologue,
when offered,
to see if this treatise overture
would take me some place I cared to wade through.

As an old avid reader
I always begin with the last chapter
because I may not otherwise have time to get there
and because its always offered, eventually,
and here I listen to learn if it might transport me
to some place I care about and believe in
and might even faithfully hope for;
a place I have not yet been
promising a pause in wonder
about where I might be now
had I only visited earlier.

Biographies are especially telling
as the end where history has brought each writer
to remember what these assembled lives and thoughts have become together
and are now replete unfolded
for all to see and rediscover
how extremes of final stages
like shared nascence of embryonic birth and infant interests
seem to land as we began
withdrawn from adolescent and middle-aging fuss and blunder,
both respectability and revolutionary thunder,
so good in our coming to, and escape from, ripe time
now echoing warnings
to start and end each new narrative’s last chapter first.

I might not have time to invest
in earlier stages of this story’s redevelopment,
especially if the last chapter doesn’t sound
at least as healthy wealthy as my own
last day and night so far,
which I probably should plan
to finish writing soon.

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Twenty Three Thousand Days

I have been counting the days and nights,
23,427 so far,
no two exactly the same
just as no two snowflakes
precisely duplicate a common design pattern.

Each of those thousands of days
invested in what cannot be purchased.

Therapists call this investment in health.
Mom called it love.
Educators know it as deep listening integrity.
Evangelists praise it as goodness.
Artists and their Muses name it Beauty.
Philosophers call it truth.
Economists call it abundantly therapeutic wealth,
what cannot be purchased
but can never become over-invested.

Through thousands of high purposed days
and deep ecology drifting sifting nights
no more ready for down payment
than that first invested breath,
23,427 nights ago.

Perhaps love would prefer I stop counting.
Not counting the cost
at least sounds like a more generous investment in life.

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