I realize that “old” is a state of mind and not a specific age. I also realize that old is often my state of mind. Some circumstances are less than helpful. My parents are gone. My sisters are grandparents. My children are adults. My hair color is Caucasian, and my beard is gray. I am blind in one eye and increasingly cannot see out of the other. I thought Pokemon GO was a statement granting a Jamaican proctologist permission to proceed.
But contrary to popular opinion, old isn’t necessarily bad.
If all went as planned, this post will publish as I fly back to California after a family visit in Arkansas. It had been a couple of years since I visited, and it was good to go “home” for a few days, even though Arkansas has not really been home for nearly two decades. On these increasingly sporadic trips, I always make a point to see the little place on West Mueller Street that I called home for the first couple of decades of my life. My parents rented the tiny house for sixty dollars a month until I was in high school, and I still remember the day that the landlord increased the rent to ninety and my dad went apoplectic. He took it as a personal insult given the thoughtful care he donated to the place.
The little house went downhill after the Sturgeon family moved out sometime around 1990, and it always made me sad to see its deteriorating condition. An overgrown yard. Broken down cars. Peeling siding. In particular, I would always look to see if the basketball goal my dad mounted on the roof of the garage was still there, and amazingly, year after year, it held on. A couple of years ago, it appeared to be holding on by a thread, dangling from the plywood backboard looking more like a lone gymnastic ring than a basketball goal, but it was still there.
I won many dramatic NCAA and NBA championships on that goal, and I couldn’t tell you how many beautiful cheerleaders fell in love with me in my imagination given my astounding heroic feats on that cracked, cement driveway. My dad often sat on the porch silently just watching me play.
Well, it finally happened. The goal is gone now after a good run of forty years or so. And it made me feel a little older.
But you know, in a sense, even without that old basketball hoop, I still feel like my dad is sitting on the porch watching me, and that provides great comfort. And, in another sense, I get to take his place on the porch and watch my children live out their dreams in this life, and since he was my first hero, taking his seat is a pretty great thing to do.
Yes, contrary to popular opinion, old isn’t necessarily bad.