PETER PAN AND WENDY
“… It's like the ticking crocodile, isn't it? Time is chasing after all of us.”― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan.
A while back my husband received a notice saying he was eligible for a pension. Furious he grabbed the phone and called the Department of Pensions.
He barked: “Clearly you’ve made a mistake.”
The woman at the department was most apologetic. “I’m so sorry, sir, but all your details seem to check out.”
“Well, check again! I can’t possibly be old enough for a pension!”
This conversation really did happen. And sure, he did make the call tongue in cheek…. And yet….
Very few of our friends have settled into aging graciously, allowed their hair to go white, their waistlines to expand, their horizons to shrink into comfort zones.
Most of us are still raging against time. Some are skiing the black runs, climbing mountains, working 10 hours a day. Or at least trying valiantly to stay awake after 9:30 at night.
I know quite a few men who are having second, even third families, which I guess is the male equivalent of the female full facelift. This is how their reasoning goes: “Sure they won’t be able to play baseball with their sons when they are older. But hey, they didn’t play ball with their first kids either because they were working a hundred million hours a week, trying to claw their way to the top.
And anyway it’s that magic lure of the bragging rights that beats all. The: “Man oh man, look at the speed and friskiness of them little sperm suckers.”
And who can blame these guys? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked by doctors and nurses in that condescending voice they put on: ”And are we still having marital relations?”
Do men get that question? Are you kidding? They would deck the first doctor who was stupid enough to ask that.
There are all kinds of ways we are rebelling against time. My friend Steve is obsessed with new technology. He never met an Apple upgrade he didn’t love.
I know a woman in her 60’s who called her adult daughter on Halloween to ask what she was up to. (It was watching TV with a pizza). She however was dressed in a Halloween costume about to go to the Santa Monica pier for a party.
Or another friend, also in her 60’s, who hosted a dinner party wearing a frilly sort of tulle, Tinkerbelle skirt. Ridiculous? Heck no. She looked fabulous.
What are the rules? Most of us no longer have mothers to tell us to cut it out and act our age. We’re out here on our own, making it up as we go along.
The upside is my ever-constant belief that life still can be fun. The downside is the body-blow that comes when something like opening a pill bottle defeats me. Or when someone says the movie I’m talking about was released before they were born. Or my husband gets a notice from the Department of Pensions.
The problem is when you’ve been kicking around for several decades, you’ve seen a lot of it before. I was reminded of that when on the road to Delhi I saw a camel and got excited. The truth is I go to India often and I’ve seen a heck of a lot of camels through the years. But I got excited. Then I saw another. And another. Well, I was less excited but still trying to keep the momentum. Then a whole herd of camels passed by. That was pushing it. But I hung in there.
The question is: why bother? Why not just slip into the easy chair and turn on the TV?
I guess I think if I lose the surprise of seeing things for the first time even though it’s the twentieth, it will be the moment I know I really am over-the-hill. And beyond that…the crocodile.
So I try to keep being amazed, enchanted and surprised by life. Because as Peter Pan tells Wendy: “The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.”
TURNING POINTS from Crowd-Writing
a book by Shelley Katz