While I am away in New York City for a couple of weeks, a fantastic group of elderbloggers and elderblog readers agreed to fill in for me. Today it is Bob Brady. A native New Yorker, he has lived in Japan since 1971, and on a mountainside above Lake Biwa since 1995. On his blog Pure Land Mountain, he writes about his experiences there and events in Japan, with occasional glimpses at the wider world.
At age 68, part of the fun is watching my mind to see how and what it's remembering, what it thinks is important at this stage of life. Often these days I find myself pausing in mid-thought - wondering, for example, what I had come upstairs or downstairs for. The answer is there in the vicinity of course - and will present itself - but immediate answers are less important than they used to be, now that there's time to enjoy thinking.
Younger, less experienced folk might call this trait forgetfulness, but it isn't that at all; it's simply the mature recognition of higher priorities. While going up or down the stairs I'm often thinking other, more important thoughts, on subjects far more interesting than a quotidian objective. By this time in life, my mind is increasingly conscious of what matters.
In contrast, back in my student days when data volume was everything and thought itself was a new experience to a hungry mind, I was in such a rush to fill my head with anything that had even a hint of worthiness that I'd remember stuff for no particular reason; reasons are nebulous creatures when you're young. No surprise that I wound up with so much junk data in the long-term inventory, all just tossed in there unallocated. So what's happening now is logical enough: my mind is defragging.
In addition to doing the usual daily tasks, my new consciousness is busy screening input, checking the old algorithms, filing, discarding and rearranging, streamlining the operating system. My mind no longer wastes time trying to remember things it didn't used to know were best forgotten. It has a fast recycling function now; comes with the mature upgrade. It's running smarter and more systematically, and it's about time.
The focus is on the actual reality right at hand these days, as opposed to the received reality and fantasized future of youthful yore. My mind has learned to appreciate the difference. Now that I am at last who I've been becoming all these years, and am organized enough to appreciate the local scenery, I'm closer to now than I've ever been. I'm realizing that my greater interests are deeper and of longer duration. Like gardening.
So as I say, I'm not being forgetful when I don't remember where my glasses are, or have at my tonguetip the name of that actor who was in that movie based on what was the title of that bestseller by that author whatsername - it'll come to me, no hurry, unless it wasn't that important, which is mostly the case. No, this elderhead isn't losing anything, it's just getting wiser about what it holds dear.
When you get out of beta, you appreciate the clarity.
EDITORIAL NOTE: While I am away, The Elder Storytelling Place is on hiatus. You can read past stories here. And if you are inclined, you could send in stories for publication when I return. All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.