Yoko Ono, John Lennon and Ronni
Age Humor

For the Last Time?

category_bug_journal2.gif Recently, Clarence at Can You Hear Me Now recalled his youthful passion for roller skate dancing:

“…something I became proficient at during my twenties and thirties. If only it were possible to go back for just one more evening of dancing on skates with an accomplished partner. Man! That would be something else.”

As the years go by, activities, hobbies, games, sports and other pleasures we once took part in drop out of our busy lives in favor of kids, work and different pursuits. Sometimes, the opportunity is no longer available for one reason or another or we lose interest or, less frequently I think, we are no longer capable of doing it.

Usually we don’t know, on the day it happens, that we have done a certain thing for the last time. Later, we remember how much we once liked – oh, water skiing, for example, and wonder why we stopped.

Although I don’t dwell on this, it interests me to think there are things I may already have done for the last time and, since I appear to still be alive, I don’t even know it.

At first, the idea pierces my heart reeking, as it does, of the end being nigh. On further thought, however, I find that it would be good, if I could know I would never do that thing again, to mourn it a bit, to light a candle for its passing out of my life or, in some circumstance, to send it on its way with a hug and kiss and perhaps a little party.

I would certainly throw a bash for having my teeth drilled if I could be certain it will never happen again.

Here are a few things I sometimes wonder if I have already done for the last time:

  • Swim naked in a secret stream on a hot summer day
  • Dance the tango (if I still know how)
  • Drive down the highway in a convertible at 100 miles an hour with Joe Cocker’s Cry Me a River blasting at full volume the CD player
  • Make love
  • Walk the beach alone in northern Oregon at 6AM
  • Walk Greenwich Village streets in a blizzard
  • Read all of Shakespeare’s plays
  • Visit London, Paris and the towns in the hills above the southern coast of Spain

If I have done these things for the last time, I would like to light a candle for them on their anniversaries each year – if only I knew the dates. In place of that – until next time – I will remember them, for as Madeleine L’Engle wrote:

"I am still every age that I have been. Because I was once a child, I am always a child. Because I was once a searching adolescent, given to moods and ecstasies, these are still part of me, and always will be...This does not mean that I ought to be trapped or enclosed in any of these ages...but that they are in me to be drawn on; to forget is a form of suicide…”
- A Circle of Quiet [1972]

Comments

From your impressive listing, I've done only 2 things. How you must have thrilled while accomplishing some of your list. More power to you! (Lovely quote from L'Engle.)

I am moved from the L'Engle piece you quote by the "present" tense that she uses: "I AM still every age ... I AM always a child ... these ARE still all parts of me ... they ARE in me to be drawn on ..." She seems in this way to collapse time, making all that we have ever been become a resource in the present more than a memory from the past. You ARE reading every Shakespeare play you have ever read, swimming naked in every stream you have ever swum, dancing the tango (which is hardly forgettable), and doing and being every other thing you have ever "kept" or “collected” as your own - as part of who you have made yourself to be.

I am endlessly fascinated by reading about ALL that you ARE, Ronni ... "fascinated" isn't the word, really - envious gets more to the heart of it, but read that word with a fair share of admiration mixed in. All the events of your life may "feel" like remembrances to you, but they are all PRESENT TENSE for me, each one happening right now in the reading - every read a new burst of strength. … the gift of you.

Good morning, Roni. I also enjoy reading your blog. I see that right now I am at a different place than you. I am not missing the things I used to do but I was missing the things I didn't. When I turned forty I decided that I would start doing the things I wanted to do when I was younger but didn't because, for one reason or another, I believed I couldn't or shouldn't . So far I have skydived (once), learned to play a music instrument (tin whistle), driven a dog sled, learned to juggle, and got a tatto (small one). Right now I am learning a little Spanish. It has been very liberating for me.

I know that someday I will reach the point of my life where I will also mourn for the things I can no longer do. Then I will remember Madeleine L’Engle words and smile.

And some things that you thought that you have done for the last time will come around again.

Take Care
Michael

la peregrina, you are right. In every such survey I've ever read, older people never regretted the things they did - only the things they did not do.

Sometimes knowing that a moment is the last time you will do something, ruins the moment. You become so focused on holding onto that moment, so depressed by the future loss, that you become unable to live the present moment to its fullest. It's better not to know. As long as you don't acknowledge that something is the last time, there is room for "still yet".

I'm two days late to this thread, but I just found this site and I wanted to weigh in a little.
When I was around forty, and options started to close, like le peregrina, my regrets were for the things not done more than the things that were over. If anything, I regretted not having a life more like Ronni's - part of everything that defined our own generation. It's not like that road wasn't open to me. I just didn't take it.

Now, fifteen years down the line, it turns out that life was still unfolding and there's no room left in it for regrets. There are still last times to come. I don't think I want to know at the moment they happen, though. The time it takes to realize somethings gone from your life is sometimes the time it takes to know that it's all right that you're finished with it.

Good post. Along with a couple of other writers, it reminded me of something important. Thanks.

It's really something to be an older woman and think that you might never make love again. That's staggering.

Of course there are ways of making love that aren't intercourse. But women (yes, women!) know it's not the same.

My husband is older (he's 77 I'm almost 59) and has a neurological illness. There aren't a lot of guys lined up for a woman in her 60s, so it's quite possible that even if I outlive him (nothing's guaranteed), I will never make love again.

Hanif Kureishi (British Pakistani gay middle-aged writer) wrote something about sitting in a restaurant with his mother, and "she fancied the waiter's hands." She said to her son, "Sometimes I am afraid that no one will ever touch me again except the undertaker."

Of course, this may be one of those myths that youth culture promulgates and there may be a whole world out there I don't know about . . .

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