the people along the sand all turn and look one way;
they turn their back on the land, they look at the sea all day.

as long as it takes to pass a ship keeps raising its hull;
the wetter ground like glass reflects a standing gull.

the land may vary more, but wherever the truth may be -
the water comes ashore and people look at the sea.

they cannot look out far, they cannot see in deep -
but when was that ever a bar for any watch they keep.

Monday, November 7, 2011


The season is turning and sadness is settling into my bones. Not a dark sadness that brings crushing despair - more like the gentle sadness of a late autumn wind that pries loose the last leaves from the tree.

This is a sadness borne in the realization that autumn is nearly done, that winter is almost here, and that no power known can put the fallen leaf back on the branch.

New leaves will grow - but that is next spring, and those will be different leaves. These leaves have fallen, and before long, they will be gone, taken back into the earth which gave them their existence not many months ago.

It was a good autumn...just like it was a good summer before that, and a good spring before that.

My sadness is the reaction of my heart to the soul-deep realization that I am powerless. That seasons turn, and there is nothing I can do about it. Leaves fall; winter comes.

I don't feel very connected to the world anymore. Like a leaf blazing in its autumn glory, my hold on the branch is getting ever more tenuous. More and more I am understanding that one day, my grip will slip, and I will drift down, down.

The world seems like a place for youth. As I drive, as I work, as I play...I am the old guy in the room. My ideas seem cranky compared to the ideas that drive the culture. I don't understand how my daughter can write 1,000 text messages a month. I have not even conceived of writing one-tenth of 1,000 text messages in my life. That crazy, stupid music they listen to...of course, I listened to The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Frank Zappa. The seasons turn.

I coached a softball team last year...there were two girls on my softball team - one  Liz, the other Taylor. One night, they were fourth and fifth in the batting order. I joked - "Liz, Taylor - hah!" They looked at me like I was crazy. I asked, and they admitted - they had never heard of Liz Taylor.

Married? Noooooooooooo...

And now I will howl.

I read somewhere that wolves howl at the moon because of an instinctive response to darkness and aloneness...wolves are social creatures, and the darkness incites them to howl to find their mates. They don’t care about the moon, it’s the darkness that bothers them, and the aloneness that scrapes against their simple nature.

Darkness. Aloneness. Metaphors for death, maybe?  Not for me...not yet. That is waiting for me, at the bottom of the long, slow descent my leaf will make when its grip on the branch finally slips.

Instead, I am like the wolf who is staring at the moon, trying to figure it out, sensing this darkness and aloneness gathering around. A howl is rising from deep inside of me. It is near.

I am the leaf whose color is changing, contemplating that day when my grip on the branch will break and I will fall. I am the old geezer who looks at the world, remembers that it belongs to the young, and is having to embrace the fact that one day, someone I love will want to put me in a nursing home.

I loved being a dad to my young kids, loved it when they curled their little bodies into my arm and slept on my lap as I read. I loved being a young stud, loving and chasing and frolicking with my wife. I loved partying and listening to music so loud it made my bones tremble.

It was a good spring (though it had its share of thunderstorms and tornadoes); it was a good summer (though it had its days of heat and drought); and thus far, autumn is turning out to be pretty nice. Heck, I even planted some new grass and hope to see a new yard in the spring.

But it won't be my yard for long. Some day someone else will live in this house, call it their home. They will walk on grass I planted, and call it their grass. My leaf will be long gone. They will never have known my name.

The season is turning, and a gentle sadness is settling into my bones.

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