Working Together

"We shape our self
to fit this world

and by the world
are shaped again..."

Excerpt from "Working Together" © David Whyte
in The House of Belonging

Many Rivers Press

Friday, March 20, 2009

Equi-knock-knock-knockin' on heaven's door



Sherman Alexie was in town as a featured somewhat local celebrity writer in these parts. My co-worker Paul Piper was on the committee to sponsor him and he reports here that the Colbert Report interview with Alexie is a don't miss. Ambushed, indeed! Colbert decries, while going for the big laugh, intimating that the only kind of warfare with balls is when folks get killed. He doesn't know who he is up against, however, when Alexie takes his balls wraps them in fry bread and serves them back to him with a smile. It becomes abundantly clear counting coup requires a lot more intelligence and courage than Colbert expected. He did, to his credit, have the decency to honor his being trumped soundly in front of the world. Is it any wonder we all pissed ourselves in fear over the American Indian. Too bad we didn't learn anything.

I am a big fan of Sherman Alexie's work. I'm not quite sure the trajectory but, just as he stepped out of the taxi, it seems I somehow went from his The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven to the film, Harry and Tonto (...with the Tonto thing going back even farther than I can afford to go here) . I found myself forgoing all the brouhaha over his appearance and toting home the old movie instead.

Through a series of what could be described as unrelated events I am beginning to settle into what I need to examine this year in regards to value. What is bird-dogging me is how I am relating to my aging process. This started around winter solstice and here it is the vernal equinox and this is what the sun reveals. Traditionally my thought progression on this subject conjures up a cloaked specter replete with scythe which provides some comic relief. Its rather obvious at this point that this is designed to keep any productive thought I may have regarding what is actually happening to me at bay. Just writing "my aging" down makes me recoil. The word"elderly" makes me want to get so high I explode.

So while everyone was yucking it up with Alexie, I was holed up in my room studying Art Carney's portrayal of Harry Coombs and wondering why I can't just spring forth without all this agonizing abhorrence as a fully recognizable elder? As I watched this movie for the first time, it occurred to me that I have been under the impression I am the only person struggling with aging. Seriously...like I invented it. The movie itself was made in '74, for crying out loud! Lately all I see are stories and examples of this ongoing conversation everywhere. Of course, I'm mortified because while there is plenty of bawling billowing about, there is little I recognize to cover me as I'm dealing with my loosening mortal coil. I feel bitterly betrayed. I fully expected this part of my life to naturally evolve without my having to respond in any way. Like I would wake up and be wise...like one day I get a social security check heralding my arrival. Obviously this is not the case when I find myself talking to a student and using the word poosma incorrectly. This is when I realize it is not going to be a graceful entry into elderhood. I loose some serious cred daily just by not understanding where I'm standing and what I'm standing on...

While I am confessing here I should also own up to some influences in my thinking these days. I have been lurking the intertubes and hanging out at Ronni Bennett's As Time Goes By blog which I could never even begin to give enough credit to for bringing me up to speed on things that I really need to pay attention to regarding politics and my interests as an aging adult. I have found this site a somewhat scary haven as I try and become accustomed to letting go of my age prejudices, so I might as well get that out of the closet. We can shoo David Whyte out of the chiffrobe too. His books, Crossing the Unknown Sea and The Heart Aroused have been lifesavers for me in helping me understand this process.

I'm just moving out of my comfort zone and not much is clear to me yet in this cycle but I'm fairly certain this is not about mortality but about my journey to the end of my stay. How I want to do that. How much choice do I actually have in how I do that? One thing I do know is this is not a subject people are anxious to talk about in realistic and valuable terms. All I can say currently is that, honestly, my actual end is the least of my worries.

3 comments:

Lisa said...

A friend and fellow blogger is related to Sherman, I believe. He is half-Apache and goes by the Name "minstrelboy" -- he blogs on Native American matters at the Group News Blog, FYI.

cile said...

Thanks, Lisa. Yes, I remember Minstrelboy. I will check it out.

Rez Dog said...

Very thoughtful, Cile. You are hardly the only one coming to terms with that "aging thing" but you are certainly the only one who is dealing with your own personal trajectory. I've discovered that nothing in life is a given and many promises are illusions. All you can do is bring your own talents and grace into the journey and stick with the friends and places that give you solace, joy and wonder.


I second Lisa's recommendation of Minstrel Boy. He's a professional musician, Vietnam veteran, fine cook and has been one of my regular readers and commenters.

Congratulations ofn the pending addition to your family. All the more reason to work for a world of peace and justice, even if we will not live to see it!