Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Maybe it's just that his life has been so different from mine. But he was quoted making an observation that I've not only never read anybody else making, I've never heard anyone else say. He was describing something that happens to him, that I thought that for all intents and purposes, only happens to me.
He said that he is often caught offguard by a memory of something that attacks him with regret and chagrin, seemingly out of the blue, just walking down the street or in any daily situation. In fact, I referenced this on this very blog:
Several years ago I was pleased to hear novelist Martin Amis admit that small regrets hit him suddenly every day, to the point that they stop him in his tracks, literally, as he walks down the street, and he involuntarily winces and mutters to himself because of some small memory that emerged with the peculiar force of shame and the pitiless, bottomless thump of regret. I was pleased because I thought I was the only one this happened to.
Now he's done it again, in a recent interview (published at Smithsonian online and flagged by Andrew Sullivan's site.) He has identified something I am dimly aware is happening to me--that in recent days I've become more conscious of. Here's what he said:
"Your youth evaporates in your early 40s when you look in the mirror. And then it becomes a full-time job pretending you’re not going to die, and then you accept that you’ll die. Then in your 50s everything is very thin. And then suddenly you’ve got this huge new territory inside you, which is the past, which wasn’t there before. A new source of strength. Then that may not be so gratifying to you as the 60s begin [Amis is 62], but then I find that in your 60s, everything begins to look sort of slightly magical again. And it’s imbued with a kind of leave-taking resonance, that it’s not going to be around very long, this world, so it begins to look poignant and fascinating.”
Yes, there is that "huge new territory inside" which is "the past." But especially, "in your 60s, everything begins to look sort of slightly magical again."
It does. It's a bit easier to appreciate the moment. I'm very aware that this is a golden time--I'm reasonably healthy, I am without physical pain, temporarily secure--well, the sense that it is certainly all temporary. But it is, right now. And the day is easier to appreciate. People, relationships that are good--and the blessings I have here, of this lovely air, especially in the sunny autumn of the North Coast. It is fascinating and it is poignant, and it's sharpened by the awareness not only that it will all soon end, but you don't know when it will start ending, or how.