I discovered Lonestar had a buddy the other day. Just taking my traditional lengthy shower before the mad rush for the bus, I petted Lonestar and low and behold, he had a junior sprouting next to him. Not quite as tall or brave as Lonestar but Steve (as I have called him) will no doubt seek to reach the same gaudy heights as the silver croner/warrior. A veritable Blake Carrington amongst chest hairs.
A few days ago, a pretty young girl, doing a temp job no doubt outside a department store, handed me a free sample of Niveau Anti-Ageing Cream. I took it, crossed the street and sat on a wall, curious to know why she had handed it to me. What did she think of me? Was I in the appropriate age bracket? She gave the next sample to a man far older but then ignored a student looking waster. Hmmm.
I used the cream. Why not? Did it make me look younger streaming down the street like a spring breeze ? I don’t think. But it ran out today and I remembered that as I sat at work, blabbering on about the Japanese Yakuza. Did it concern me? I am pondering that right now. And I probably will until I get some vodka in me later.
At work, I spend a few hours a week with the head of investment, a man of 65 years and in his last few months here after a life-time of employment. Technically we are meant to discuss his various duties and work on his speeches. But almost always, we fall into philosophical discussion centred on the meaning of his life. At his age, his age has real meaning. Realistic or chirpy answers don’t help the soul. Today we discussed the question of whether it is better to have made a mistake than regret a past opportunity.
He asked me how responsibile he should feel for his grown-up children’s mistakes now. As a man who devoted himself to the company, pushing himself to earn a good salary throughout the communist era, he spent more time at work than he feels he should have. He has regrets and reflects on what he perceives as failure. Successes are the beacons others admire while deep in a man’s soul, he wonders what else he could have done.
It’s a musing I have known. I quoted a paragraph from Naguib Mahfouz’s Palace of Desire to him. The father is shamed by an action of his eldest son Yasin saying to his friend ‘it is a father’s greatest loss to have a son who dispapoints him.’ But what he can’t explain publicly are his similar failures and personality traits, something he tries to keep hidden from his family through stern leadership. He wonders whether these ‘failures’ are simply a case of his son following his lead or a direct result of his failure to warm to his family. In younger days, he would absolve himself of blame stating ‘it is in God’s hands now’ and continue on his own selfish path. As an older man, his decision-making comes under greater personal scrutiny. He worries that he might regret the choices in life.
As nostalgia warms us on cold days, melancoly sits deep in our soul, a feeling of guilt that may be controlled but never doused. Like hurt, it never goes away. Not fully. It’s a stick we beat ourselves with. It keeps us modest, more patient and rooted. There needs to be a limit of course. The well can get very dark with unresolved searching. But while the feeling fades, it never goes away. Only by passing it on to those who live on, can it survive. For while the sun sets on us, our memories need not be washed away as Glen Campbell sings in Rhinestone Cowboy. So remember when you ride off into the sun, the dust is never the same afterwards.