Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Fading away


About a year ago, I wrote about being invisible. I could have simple copied and pasted that post here today. No one read it the first time, so it wouldn't be like I was repeating myself. Though that is what we tend to do as we begin to fade into the woodwork.

I used to wonder why my 81-year old mother repeats things. I'd be on the phone and she'd tell me the same story umpteen times. I'd stop her and say, "Mom, you told me that already." She'd pause for a moment and then start up where she left off. I think I understand that now.

It's not just that we forget what we've said as we get older (though I'm sure that is part of it). I think that we repeat things because the process of becoming invisible as we get older also affects what we say and what people hear. We begin repeating things to try and be heard.

Sometimes I stand invisibly at the checkout stand and listen to the checker chattering to the person bagging the groceries about what they are going to do that evening. I could be dressed in a chicken costume, flapping my wings and crowing and they would not acknowledge me until they've printed out the receipt, read my name and say, "You've saved $5.33 today, Mr. H****. Have a nice day." It is the same at video stores, dry cleaners and the post office...wait, they've always ignored everyone at the post office.

It is my karma. It is all of our karma's for being arrogant in our youth and believing we will be unique and not age. We believe we will never have hair grow in odd places or get confused or move slowly. And we never stop rushing blindly into the future until we reach the top of that hill, see the downgrade sign and frantically start braking.

Maybe nature makes us invisible as we age to protect us from scrutiny if we try to ignore the process. If people can't see us then they won't notice the comb overs, the pony tails, too much make up or, god forbid, the black socks with shorts. Nothing can shield you if you are wearing a Speedo. You deserve whatever ridicule is heaped on you.

I got into a discussion a couple of weeks ago about famous people who died young. The person I was talking with tried to say that great talent was what created fame. I took the position that talent was only part of it but it was the youth we worshipped. Elvis, Marilyn, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and James Dean wouldn't be icons if they'd lived and faced the inevitable ravages of time. I cited Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor as perfect examples. And anyone who watched the Rolling Stones during the Superbowl halftime seem to concur that one more tour wasn't a great idea.

In many ways, I don't mind getting older and disappearing slowly. It is kind of pleasant to slow down and notice the scenery. But I'd be lying if I didn't say it gets to me sometimes to hover unnoticed in the crowds of younger people rushing by and not be seen or heard.

Maybe that's why I blog. Everyone is more or less invisible here, even the young. So it kind of evens out the playing field. It's my travelogue as I coast down the hill. And just between you a me, I don't always use my brakes.
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