Drinking from the Fountain of Youth
June 8th, 2003
Many religious people like to say they know things: "I know this is true, I know that so and so did such and such and I know that god has this in mind for me after I die." All of which is fine and dandy I guess. But you know, I've been wandering about this planet for almost fifty years now and for the life of me I can't figure out how people manage to know so much when I've come to the conclusion that I know so little. I must be slow getting to the party or something - maybe that's why I don't look like I'm almost fifty.
The less I claim to know, the happier I seem to be.
A lot of people my age spend a lot of money trying to look younger than they are. I'm getting off pretty cheap in all of this because all I do is keep having fun and following my heart. And more specifically perhaps, I don't keep claiming to know what's true, but rather allowing my truth to evolve from day to day. Just five years ago I was wearing cowboy boots with skin-tight jeans and even tighter underwear and listening almost exclusively to country western music. And all of that with hair that reached down to the small of my back.
Today, the long hair and the underwear are gone as are the tight jeans and the cowboy boots. And country music has all but been replaced by a kaleidoscope of music that includes hip hop, trance and the ever-present sounds of a young Spanish singer named Alejandro Sanz. I'm OK with the idea that just because something worked for me in the past, doesn't mean I have to hold onto it forever.
The only exception to that however, would seem to be the people I love and am loved by. There's a permanence in loving relationships that buffers the constant changes. But you know, even those relationships seem to benefit from allowing them to change and grow. As I sat on the beach this morning with my daughter Aurelia, her husband Trent and my little year-old grandson Tristan, I felt the safety and sureness of their love while being aware of how much each of them has changed in the past year.
I looked around me and realized too, how the sands had changed the shape of the beach we were sitting on. Rock formations at the water's edge that I've climbed over hundreds of times were all but buried in sands that hadn't been there a week ago. Even with her constant, timeless and predictable lapping at the shore, my beloved Pacifica had somehow managed to rearrange the setting.
Twenty years ago I sat at the same water's edge with Auri - a smiling, snuggling wonder of a child who dug her hands into the sand, waved them in the air and then finally stuck them in her mouth. I watched with quiet amusement as my grandson did the same thing today and realized that no matter how much things change, kids will probably always need to examine the world around them as much with their mouths as with their hands and their eyes. For all that changes, there's a thread that runs through our lives that keeps things beautifully woven together. It's a thread that seems not to be dependant on what we believe but what we allow ourselves to experience in the moment.
For me, those moments are what keep me young and alive.
I was raised with an all-consuming preoccupation for a mythical life that supposedly waits for us after this one - a life based on countless conditions for being able to enjoy it. With so much attention being given to trying to get things right for that life, this one got lost in the fray. It was in letting go of my belief in a mythical afterlife that I began to find this one. And what a rich and interesting one it is.
Sitting on the beach and looking out towards the horizon where the water meets the sky this morning, I found myself wondering what's out there - what kind of adventures and mysteries are still waiting for me there in the unknown. But sitting on the sand beside me were my precious Aurelia and her boys. By focusing my attentions on what lies out there in the unknown, I risk losing what's here and now. And that's something I never want to do.
For all that I don't know, the one thing that I do seem to know is that staying in the moment and being OK with whatever the moment holds is what really works for me. I'm young in the sense that I'm always allowing myself to be reborn into something new. For me, the water that flows from the fountain of youth is called change and I drink it often and it quenches my thirst. I'm OK with not knowing what's out there on the horizon and beyond because there's enough going on right here on the shore to keep me plenty entertained and happy.
From the water's edge as always,