January 27, 2019

Young. Old. Just Words.

Young. Old. Just Words
By John R. Greenwood

“Young. Old. Just Words...” - George Burns 

I released this bottle a few weeks ago on a visit to Washington County. All my other bottles have been released in the city of Saratoga Springs. I hadn’t set any bottles free since earlier this year. My life had clogged with other responsibilities and my focus on writing had blurred. It wasn’t as though I’d gone completely off grid. In 2018 I had stories published in five issues of Simply Saratoga Magazine. The Winter Edition that came out last week is my first for 2019. As I contemplate retirement and the next phase of my life, the subject of age keeps knuckle-punching me in the arm. Having spent forty some years processing, selling, delivering, and picking up milk I’m trying to prepare myself to living a life simply drinking it. Retirement is not a comfortable word for me. The fact that I have Studs Terkel’s 600 page book “Working” on my bookshelf should provide a clue that work holds a special place in my life. Based on my struggle with the word ‘retirement’ itself, it would probably be a good idea to hang on to my alarm clock. 

I’ve had a good run, I should be looking forward to owning my own days--and I am. The difficult part for me is the fact that my head and mind don’t match the creaks and groans of my body. It brings to mind a poem I wrote a decade ago called, “Man Mirror.” I’ll re-share it here. 

Man Mirror

It is a special mirror
Unlike the female version 
Man Mirror is magic
It flattens, flatters and fixes
Man Mirror creates strength 
Full thick manes of blondness
No hesitation, no insecurity
Man Mirror inverts numbers
52’s become 25’s
Wrinkles become muscles
Grey t-shirts transform 
Dads into starting quarterbacks 
Boys into men
Men into boys
Man Mirror steamy and hot
Make reflections like 
No imperfections
No flaws
All appear clean, cut, and vibrant 
Who can resist the vision that stands there
Strong, tall rippled Adonis
Man Mirror
Man Mirror
On the wall
Who’s the fairest of…

The poem is true to a man’s interpretation of themselves. We all think we’ll live forever. We don’t see the same thing our wives see. It’s a healthy place to reside—until, the rust starts to fall off. Then we can’t believe what’s happening. For now, I’m content and comfortable. I’m optimistic about the days ahead. Its normal to approach the end of a 45 year career with trepidation. The difficulty lies in feeling like it began yesterday. 

I hope whoever adopted this bottle understands the feelings behind the phrase. It’s meant to battle back the fear of aging. As the AARP mailings flood my mailbox and overflow my recycling bin I refuse to buckle. With busload after busload of my fellow baby boomers lining up for flights to the Sunshine State I plan to remain right where I am. I’ll continue to unfurl my snow-rake and pull the snow from the roof’s edge. I’ll relish in the ankle-high maple leaves each fall. I’ll anticipate spring with the fervor of a young farmer. I’ll ask for my senior discount if I want it, and I’ll refuse it if asked. I enjoyed my fifties more than I ever imagined. My sixties have caught me off guard and unprepared. I’m not afraid--maybe a little nervous. When all is said and done, I have no regrets, only thanks. Thanks for all the friends, stories, and experiences that I’ve been blessed with. Add to that my family, and my work, and I hit the life-jackpot. 

Isn’t that what it’s all about? 


Just a word…