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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Decades

A dear friend celebrated her 50th birthday recently. She reported she didn’t feel any different.

I didn’t feel any different on my 50th birthday, either.

I’m not sure any of us notice much of anything different until ‘bout halfway through a decade...or decades later.

I’ve kinda been pondercating on this all day. Had meself two glasses of wine.

I think I’m finally ready to bloviate...

THE FIRST: This one’s problematic. I can’t remember ANYTHING ‘bout the first quarter. Let’s just say it’s the emergence of a human. From embryo to self-aware, fully-functioning biological specimen in just ten short years! It’s kinda mind-blowing, if you really think about it. Researchers say that our basic personality takes root by age five. Who am I to argue? That’s kinda how it was for me. From nothingness to shy dreamer in just ten short years. If pressed, I can prolly point to the origins of ALL of my fundamental personality traits over the course of my first decade on this earth.

My parents bestowed me with EVERY possible advantage. This truly was the decade of BIRTH AND CREATION.

THE SECOND: OMIGOD! From ten to twenty! I have no words to describe the explosive transformation(s). From innocent child to cynical “near-adult”. I elongated a couple of feet (no, not everywhere). Grew hair in places where I started with none. Learned more than I could assimilate. Went into rut (good times! good times!). Found friends who stayed with me to shape me, teach me, challenge and sustain me. Discovered the thrills, majesty and horrific pain of Love.

This decade was decisive for me and many. Some didn’t survive.

THE THIRD: The “Power” decade. I learned the extent of mine...the extent of the power of others. This was the decade of fierce competition. The mastery and display of skills, talent and will. I fared well. The “Dreamer” birthed in the first decade grew fortified with the energies of the young adult. I came. I saw. I conquered. I discovered my strengths. I discerned my vulnerabilities. I felt invincible...

Despite all that, I was still a fool.

THE FOURTH: This was the decade of erosion. This was the decade when my ideals became tarnished. Oh, there was money to be made, to be sure. There were titles, honors, successes (and failures). There was reality staring me in the face as I peered into the mirror each morning. There was a dissipation of energy. A growing cynicism.

I cut my feet on shards of broken dreams.

THE FIFTH: Oh! The Fifth decade. What can I say? The decade of “Realization”. This was the decade when the body cried “No mas! No mas!” I had burned my candle at both ends. Hell! I threw the whole damn thing into the fire! Around mid-decade, I realized I was crumbling. Both physically and mentally. I had paid lip service to my mortality but I had no idea what “mortality” truly meant. I was once one of those long-haired, stoned freaks who “didn’t trust anyone over 30”. I never thought I’d actually live long enough to become exactly the being I had once mocked. Life teaches us fine lessons, no? The hubris of youth gave way to humbling truths. And what I learned was this: Muscles atrophy. Dreams die. Ideals rarely prevail.

Alcohol kills brain cells.

The Fifth Decade’s a bitch. That seems to be the general consensus. Oh, yes. The Fifth Decade's a I came only too well to know in my Sixth.

THE SIXTH: The decade of DEATH. I’m nearing the end of this decade, so I’ve not yet achieved “true” perspective. Even so, it has been the darkest decade of my life, although I’ll freely admit I’m grateful, truly grateful, that I’ve lived THIS long. (Not everyone has...JFK, Jr., Fergie, James Dean, Jimi, Janis and Mr. Cobain...
among many, MANY others).

I’ve suffered through the deaths of my parents, my marriage, my body and soul.

But I’m coming to the end of this long, hard trail. I’ve lost everything most important to me. I’ve grieved more than I EVER thought
I would or could. I came perilously close to ending it all myself.

But I did not.

I’m simply too curious to learn what awaits just a wee bit further down the road.

THE SEVENTH: OK. OK. I’m not there...yet. But I’ve caught the scent in the air. I suspect this shall be the decade of “acceptance”.

I’m almost there. You’ll almost find me smiling.

I’ve come to understand LIFE. I’ve come to understand that it’s not all “peaches and cream”. I’ve come to know great Joy and incredible Heartache.

I’ve come to realize just how tragic and magnificent this whole, strange trip has been.

* * *

Gratuitous Non-Sequitor:

I kinda like Taco Bell's hard shell beef tacos.

Lord help me!

* * *


Blogger deb said...

"But I’m coming to the end of this long, hard trail. I’ve lost everything most important to me. I’ve grieved more than I EVER thought
I would or could."

Funny how life does that to us, strips away everything, leaving only bare bones. I'm just in the process of stripping away the layers, I cried all the way home from work today as some of those layers dissolved. I'm thinking maybe tears have an as yet unknown (to me anyway) ability to wash away bullshit.

Tue Aug 18, 10:07:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Time for you to listen to Heather Nova's "Truth and Bone", Deb.

Her song resonates true. I can't listen to it without crying.

Tue Aug 18, 10:20:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Here. I'll give you a helpin' hand:

Tue Aug 18, 10:31:00 PM  
Blogger Cheesy said...

Peeling away the layers... like in an onion..can bring tears...
It reveals lovely tastes you'd never find otherwise.

My motto during the sixth decade is enjoy the "blueberries and ice cream"!!
Screw peaches they are over-rated~

[We are blessed you did NOT end it all} :o)

Tue Aug 18, 11:26:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

No, NO, NO!!!

Oh, my favorite earth momma...Don't diss the peach.


From Blossoms

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.
From laden boughs, from hands
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.
O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.
There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

Li-Young Lee

I had me a peach like that...once.

Don't diss the peach.

A single bite of that one fruit...with juices cascading down my neck...made me a better man.

(But it was a long, long time ago)

Tue Aug 18, 11:44:00 PM  
Blogger Cheesy said...

Time to switch to nectarines? hehee

Tue Aug 18, 11:52:00 PM  
Blogger L'uragano (The Hurricane) said...

Love "prolly" love "bloviate." can't stop smiling.

you've got me thinking....about my past decades and curious about what's ahead (if I'm fortunate to make it). i don't know...i don't know...and maybe that's the best place to be.

Wed Aug 19, 01:37:00 AM  
Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

Being in the early stages of my sixth decade, I have been shaped in ways I never would have imagined by the previous ones. The deaths of my parents, my eldest sister, a husband, cousins, friends... as well as relationships... has strengthened my character but given me reason to cry more easily than ever before. I have become much more human.

I have, however, been discovering an inner resolve of late to live life to the fullest. To revel in every moment, relish the scents and colours of the universe that surrounds me, as well as explore avenues that I didn't think would ever interest me.

And it's good. It's all good. Not easy at times, but I grow richer and stronger with each passing day.

I'm glad you are still here, Jonas. I'm very happy to have discovered your blog and to be privileged to some of your inner thoughts.

Wed Aug 19, 02:11:00 AM  
Blogger Selma said...

I'm wondering what lies ahead now. I know there'll be heartaches by the number, troubles by the score. Such is life. But I am also curious to see how it all turns out!

Wed Aug 19, 06:40:00 AM  
Blogger deb said...

I listened to the song, it's lovely.

"and I need you to cut through to where I'm hidden,", except for this line. I used to want that, someone else to find me, I realize now that it's my job to find me, nobody else can do it for me.

Heather Nova reminds me of Sarah Mclachlan.

Wed Aug 19, 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger secret agent woman said...

Somehow "fifth decade" sounds much older than "in my 40's." Still, it's been one hell of a ride so far. High highs and low lows. But it's the decade where I get to start seeing the fruits of a focus on mothering the previous decade, and also the decade in which I learned I am FAR more capable than I'd ever imagined possible. Wouldn't trade it for anything.

Wed Aug 19, 08:32:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Ah, I do so love the commentary!

Speaking as one old enough to be your father, Ms. Tempest, I will only say that the future is unknowable...and will most certainly defy any and all expectations...whether good or bad.

Ponita, my fellow "sixth-decader" we understand each other. While everyone's story is most unique, there are the common threads of human existence and experience. We're all in this together. Yes?

Yes, Selma, there's ALWAYS the miracle just 'round the bend. Why else would we keep on traveling?

You and I are of like mind, Deb. 'Ceptin' that I have a slightly different take on the lyric. I've always understood it was my personal responsibility to come to know myself. I never looked to another to "complete me" (as the saying goes). It would take a bit of diligent effort, and great dollops of curiosity, for another to plumb my depths. Anyone willing to put in the effort has been and will be loved forever.

Yes, my covert peace operative, I agree that years sound "younger" than decades. I confused myself quite a bit while writing my blurb. Even so, I find it useful to sometimes think in terms of decades. Each has its own "flavor" it's own pleasures and perils, lessons and joys.

I've no doubt that, if I had had children, my life would have been quite different. Children change EVERYTHING. Sigh.

I'm delighted that you've been most blessed. I'm delighted by any and every blessing that may grace a life.

Wed Aug 19, 10:13:00 PM  
Blogger Cheesy said...

I have plenty of kids... want a loner?

Wed Aug 19, 10:42:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

"I have plenty of kids... want a loaner?"

Yeah. Sure. Like you'd REALLY part with any one of them!?!


Wed Aug 19, 11:17:00 PM  
Blogger Eve said...

As different as we all are, it amazes me how our decades are all so similar. It blew my mind to read James Hollis's "The Middle Passage" and learn that it's all so predictable. And yet... so poignant and real as we go through it.

Cutting your feet on the shards of your broken dreams: brilliant.

Thu Aug 20, 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger Smiler said...

Well I'm not old enough or wise enough to look back on my own years like that (interesting insights btw), but I can say that so far my past decades have been marked with a strong desire to dissolve into pure energy (some people call it "ending it all" but little do they know...) and the conviction that I would not make it to the next decade.

I may not know much about anything, I do know for sure that the end comes for us all sooner or later. Knowing that is reassuring to me for some reason.

Thu Aug 20, 03:50:00 PM  
Anonymous joanne said...

well... hmmm... having been such a late bloomer, i've always been behind everyone else, which is true as i read through your reflections... until i see this in your sixth..."I’ve grieved more than I EVER thought I would or could" and i realize how early i came to that party... starting in the end of the fourth and then into my fifth... that makes me feel just a little uneasy...

(i like those TB tacos too... )

Thu Aug 20, 07:58:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Yes, Eve, we're all different and all the same. That is true. We all follow the same plot line, 'cuz that's simple biology. We grow, we thrive, we wither and die. It's a simple story...

Told a billion different ways.

Thanks for dropping by!

Thu Aug 20, 10:11:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Funny thing, Smiler...when I was in my teens and twenties, I felt in my bones I would never reach 30. Of course, we all know now that I was ridiculously wrong. Even so, I'm a lot like you in that Death does not haunt me (exceptin' for the notion that I DO NOT want to suffer grievously). I've long bleated that we are ALL stardust, infinity and song. I've no great qualms 'bout reverting to my basic state.

But I STILL DO NOT wish to suffer.

Thu Aug 20, 10:20:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Ah, Joanne. It appears you're an "over-achiever". It's prolly for the best that you confronted your anguish early. That simply gives you waaaay more time to savor reflection, contemplation, acceptance and appreciation.

And, truth be told, I'm relieved others find TB tacos savory.

(I was getting kinda weirded out 'bout that)

Thu Aug 20, 10:25:00 PM  
Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

Jonas, just as a note about the tacos... they are the only ones I like to eat! I love the crispy corn shells, despite the mess they make as they crack and fall apart with each bite. A good dash of hot sauce too.

So no need to get weirded out at all! We are more alike than just the sixth decaders label. :-D

Sat Aug 22, 12:34:00 AM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Thanks, ponita!

I was searching for affirmation!

Sun Aug 23, 11:43:00 PM  
Blogger Jay said...

Very insightful as always Jonas. I think I will now contemplate the passage of time for a crunchy taco. Measured in moments and not decades.

My wife and I just recently started watching the HBO series 'Deadwood" on DVD. Here's a good pep talk from the series I watch when I'm feeling down. There is a few "F" bombs in there, so be careful where you watch the clip.

Wed Aug 26, 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger Jay said...

Bad link on that last post. here it is.

Wed Aug 26, 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger Jonas said...

I rather enjoyed that clip, Jay. Thanks!

As someone who has had his ribs broken, skull fractured, jaw shattered and heart broken too many times to count...I subscribe to the wisdom proffered.

Fri Aug 28, 12:56:00 AM  

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