Not sure quite what I want to say, here; I have already done a lot of on-line navel gazing in the last few weeks, but "Factorial Five Over Two" was just too geeky a title to pass up.
So... Sixty. SIXTY! People around here are expressing shock when they hear the number, but that is probably charity. Mostly, I am amused by the fact that, at this late stage of the game, I still don't know what I want to do with myself when I grow up (and it would be really helpful, just now, to have that nailed down). The thing that I notice most about aging is the little voice in my head that asks me, whenever I get hurt (and I STILL get hurt ALL THE TIME), if this is going to be forever, if the limp or the malfunctioning finger joint or what have you (this most recent weekend, the joys of "hurts to breathe") will be with me for the rest of my life. So far, the answer has always been, "No." (Though there are a few "To Be Determineds" in the mix, too...)
One of the things I am going to work on this summer is that question of who I am and what I am good for (remembering that keeping the lights on is part of the question). I have always been intensely envious of anyone who actually HAD a vocation; I would love to know what that feels like.
In the meantime... In the meantime I am having the peculiar experience of having my heart ripped out by a piece of my own poetry. It is an autumnal poem, but hell: I'm SIXTY; it's ALL autumnal.
Wild Geese and Woodsmoke
The days are getting shorter and the geese are on the wing,
And there's just a trace of woodsmoke in the air,
And I just can't help but wonder if my life means anything,
And the drudgery seems more than I can bear.
I don't object to comfort, but I know there's just one cure
For the restless feeling in my soles and soul,
As I stare into the mirror and I wish I could be sure
I'm not looking at another faceless troll.
Have I faced my share of dragons? Have I fought my share of wars?
Can I say the scars I carry are enough?
Or have I become a creature who shuns the out of doors,
And whimpers when the bedclothes are too rough?
The wild geese sing their siren song of places far away
And the woodsmoke speaks of campfires yet unbuilt;
The bright boots in the corner should be caked with muddy clay,
And my fingers ache to grasp a weapon's hilt.
There are roads I've yet to travel; there are seas I've yet to sail;
There are fights and loves I've still to win and lose,
And I know I won't rest easy 'till I'm camped beside the trail
With dust that's unfamiliar on my shoes.
So I go about my business, and pretend that I don't hear,
And settle for the peace that I can get,
While the woodsmoke fills my head and whispers of the coming year,
And the wild geese sing that it's not over yet.
Paul Haynie 5/29/2003