Old Geezers Out to Lunch

Old Geezers Out to Lunch
The Geezers Emeritus through history: The Mathematician™, Dr. Golf™, The Professor™, and Mercurious™

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Citizens of 4F: August 22, 2017

The seasons change with lightning swiftness in Minnesota, and during this morning's walk to the bus stop, I can clearly see we have now entered the transition, the saddle season between summer and autumn. Yesterday saw what might well prove to be the last summer thunderstorm, a long heavy rain storm driven by southern winds carrying lots of moisture up from the Gulf of Mexico. Today, the skies are a piercing blue and the wind is a cool gusty breeze from the northeast. Yesterday's upper 80-degree temperatures have been replaced by buoyant air in the mid-50s. By mid-afternoon, we may well be back in the upper 80s, but we have now reached that season where mornings and evenings will clearly belong to autumn while summer is still fully present in the mid-day hours.

It's the kind of morning where the beverage I purchase from Starbucks to drink on the bus ride might be either iced latte or hot chocolate, and either would be perfectly appropriate. Today, anyway, I choose the iced latte.

Some of my fellow passengers on the bus this morning are wearing long-sleeved flannel shirts or light sweaters in acknowledgment of the autumn soon to be upon us, while others hold tight by wearing short-sleeved polo shirts in anticipation of the warmth that will mark the mid-day hours. Both forms of dress are fine today.

These days of transition always fill me with a kind of extreme, pleasurable melancholy. I am critically aware that there are a limited number of these summer-autumn transition seasons left for me to fully enjoy. I am approaching 62 years of age, and in 20 more years, I will be an old man of 82. My father passed away at 82 after two difficult years confined to a care facility, and for the men of my family, he did well to live that long; most expire in their 70s. So a realistic degree of optimism tells me that 20 more good years is a reasonable projection for me. If I'm really lucky, it might be as many as 30 more seasons, but however you look at it, it must be acknowledged that the clock is ticking. It is self deception to pretend otherwise. 

Oddly, this is not a depressing thought at all, but one that makes this particular morning all the more glorious and wonderful. The temporary nature of life fills me with a kind of painful love for the world and all the things and people in it—a fondness that simply wouldn't be possible if we didn't recognize that life is a limited gift that will end some day. It is death—or more precisely the recognition of death—that makes life so wonderful. It can be argued, even, that a life must end for it to have any meaning at all. 

On a store at 36th Street and Lyndale Avenue, a large mural with the single word "LOVE" has been painted across the brickwork in an old-fashioned serif-font typeface. The word is brightly colored in warm southwestern hues across the side wall of a pet-food store. A man sits on a promotional bus-stop bench with his back to the giant word, oblivious to it. 

I wonder at the intended grammar of the word in this setting. Today, I choose to read LOVE not as a noun but as an imperative verb. I think the artist intended it as the prescription for how we should behave in the world when faced with a clear sense of life's mortal quality.  Love. 

How is it, I wonder, that in all the days of bus trips along this route, this is the first day that I've recognized this mural?


  1. I am glad to see you here at the blogging spot. Your meditations and observations are thought provoking and often so poetically stated.
    Your words about the saddle season filled me with memories of my years in Indianapolis when I had the same melancholy thoughts.
    I have you by a decade, so I appreciate your thoughts. I wish you many more passings of summer and hope you will continue to share your lovely words here.

  2. I've got a dozen years on you, more or less. I think I'm a couple years older than Tom, though not nearly as wise.
    Best to you, I've learned the old saying that 'treat every day as your last' has more truth than we'd like to think.

  3. Wise words for we baby boomers aging apprehensively, but hopeful.

  4. Some good thoughts about life. I am 70 or will be in 2 weeks and I wondered if I would be here for the next eclipse in 2024, which will be total where I live. Yesterday was ~2/3 for us.

  5. Thank you for what I appreciate as a flawless personal essay. Nicely written. The singing poet from Hibbing (if I recall right) is a good photo-introduction. There does come a time in our lives when we realize there are fewer years ahead than behind --there is a fear and a grace to it. I also feel the closing photo of the word "LOVE" is most appropriate --but ought to have been painted bigger. I'd like, even love, to see it on every fence.

  6. Well written, and very thought provoking. Time certainly is marching by.
    Based on things that happened during the first 25 years of my life, I've always felt like every day since then has been a bonus. In the past six or seven years, I've had some serious health issues to deal with, but I think they are all behind me now. Once again, I feel like every day is a bonus. I'm old, and I'm happy...

    You've got me reflecting on things right now, and I thank you for that.

  7. At 77, I seem to be the truly old man in this group. But I fear nothing. I have the body of an 87 year old!

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