Of all the benefits of
old age, time seems to be the most paradoxical. Through my youth and
middle age, it seemed I had no choice but to focus on making a living.
Everything else had to be squeezed into my remaining hours. Since I
retired, Iíve been fortunate to have the time to pursue other interestsóreading,
writing, photo-graphing, tinkering and just thinking. At the end of the
day, I sometimes wonder where the time went. I have difficulty accounting
for the hours. And the number of hours I have available to me keeps
shrinkingójust when Iíve
discovered what life is for, itís running out!
For me, writing is the
path to understanding. Often, I donít know what I think or what I feel
until I try to write it down. I get glimmerings of insight as I read, but
until I attempt to put them into words they are like fluffy clouds, coming
and going. If I donít pay attention, they dissolve before my eyes.
I also discovered many
years ago that photography was a similar response: trying to capture what
I saw, hanging onto things that I wanted to remember.
Both activities also
shared another benefitóthey allowed me to grasp things in the privacy of
my own mind. Thereís a part of me, of course, that wants to share my
internal life with others. For some lucky souls, sharing is just second
nature. They donít have to stop and think, or monitor what they express.
I envy them sometimes, and Iím often grateful for what they bring to my
life. My own reticence (whatever its psychological sources) has been
reinforced by years of habit. So I write, perhaps, instead.
Writing no longer is my
living. Itís more my life. Itís kicking through the leaves of memories
and thoughts. Among these leaves, pages written in the past year, you
might get a glimpse of me.
Don Skiff, May 1, 2007