The older you get, the harder it feels to write anything of substance or insight.
That’s because while once you grappled mightily to come to terms with the intuitions and ideas that you were having, your writing reflecting something of the inner dialogue carried out under these auspices, in the second half of life there is no longer any debate; the things that you know and the opinions that you have seem obvious, without need of explanation any longer.
You already know what you think. Your biases are baked in. Yes, you could revisit all of that old dialogue, but it feels pointless to do so. Instead, it starts to feel as if what you really want to do is to document your opinion with a parsimonious paragraph or two, then liberally salt it with four-letter words and invective aimed at all of the idiots to whom whatever you’re saying isn’t already as bloody obvious as it should be.
In short, your patience runs out, you no longer need to persuade or interrogate yourself, and you have little motivation to persuade or interrogate anyone else. You’d just as soon that they stay off your lawn.
— § —
When someone suggests that I date right now, I am literally overtaken by a blank stare and a blank mind, as though they’d suddenly broken out into song in front of me, or began to recite Xhosa poems.
It makes no sense; it is nonsense.
Why would I want to do that? Dating is the preferred technique and method for destroying one’s own life and putting and end to one’s pursuit of one’s own goals. Why would anyone want to do that?
— § —
Every now and then in the midst of going through the motions, I notice that a day is drawing to a close. Today it happened while I was on the stairway, descending, halfway between upstairs and downstairs, on the way to feed the cat. I paused and stood there stupidly for a good two minutes.
© Aron Hsiao / 2009
The thing is that whenever I have this realization, I’m swept away by a deep, bittersweet sort of longing—the longing to stop time, to make the afternoon, the moment, the gesture or activity that I am at that moment engaged in—last forever.
The end of a day is a kind of tragedy, when you think about it, a catastrophe, a great loss. All of humanity is losing a day together—and forever. That day is never coming back, for anyone. For any of seven billion people, who as a group and individually will never see it, taste it, hear it, smell it, or touch it again.
It is permanent, that loss. So very, incredibly permanent, so all-encompassing.
Time is devastating. And what makes it harder is that time isn’t cold; time isn’t brutal. You can’t be angry with time, which brought you your children and your life and all of the things toward which you’re looking, day after day. Time is generous. It gives so very, very much that it’s impossible to blame time for also taking something away.
At an alarming and steady pace.
Time is taking away your loves and your children and your own childhood and your pets and your possessions and your very life, but you can’t be angry with time, because time is your greatest benefactor, your greatest ally, and your greatest personal healer.
So insead, when you notice it next to you, you stop what you’re doing, there on the partially lit stairway, and you keep company with it. In part, you lean on it just a bit, as if you’re about to cry. And in part, you sigh under your breath, in hopes that time will take the hint and back off a little bit.
But there’s no point in being passive aggressive with time, because time doesn’t give a shit. It’s not that time doesn’t love you; it’s that time is the world’s foremost authority on tough love.