I have no intention of giving up on not giving up.
Today, the gym was filled with old people, and me.
Like most everyone else, I’m sure I have an elevated impression of how young I look. And my narcissistic nature, as evidenced by my love of social networking and the use of first person point of view in my stories, keeps me engaged in the endless pursuit of my own reflection.
I like to congratulate myself for being in the shape I’m in at my age, especially while watching some guy with grey hair struggle with weights several pounds lighter than the ones I am lifting. Then jealousy creeps in when while doing crunches next to a kid still in high school, with the body I always said I wanted, but never had the time to get around to. But it doesn’t matter, I tell myself. Nothing is permanent, including his abs.
Scott and I spent our vacation touring the island on scooters. Everywhere we went, life encroached on the moment. Tree roots tore at the street we rode on. Waves crashed against the shore, pulling the beach back into the abundant world below the surface. Even the people, crammed together in tiny buildings, under the searing sky, possessed a zeal for the world around them.
And how could they not? The impermanence of existence was everywhere.
The hotel we stayed at during 9-11 was gone. Only a rotted frame covered with vines and an empty swimming pool remained. We were surrounded by buildings whose white washed exteriors had been chipped away by the salty winds. Above us, a perpetual vortex of circling vultures followed our every move. Everything created in this tropical paradise was in a state of decomposition.
I’ve been in the company of death for as long as I can remember. I sat and held my mothers’ hand after her first stroke and talked to her as she pulled herself back from the edge of release. Countless mornings have started with the news that someone I was just talking to was no longer part of struggle they had left the rest of us to deal with. I stayed with Keith until it was over, but I’m not ready to talk about that yet.
In my bedroom I have a collection of ashes on a shelf. Pets, friends and former lovers now reside in sparkly boxes. These little things remind me that no matter how good I may look in the mirror, when it’s over, not only do we become dust, but we get stored in things that collect it.
Right now my dog is sick. I kneel down and spoon feed him chicken broth and rice milk to keep his strength up. I don’t believe in higher beings granting miracles, it’s just an ingrained habit which forces me to ask that he be given a little while longer. Please don’t let him go like this, or at least take him quietly while I’m not in the room. Or maybe I'm just getting tired of being left behind.
In between sips I tell him not to give up. I don’t need another box to polish right now.