J & I were discussing general decline the other day and she remarked, "There are just no red flags. You can be driving down the street and suddenly you can't remember where you were going."
I know that feeling!" I exclaimed. "Just yesterday I was on my way somewhere and I found myself in town rather than on the road home. I thought, 'Where is my car going?' It took me a moment to remember that I wasn't on my way home."
"Well, wherever it is that I'm going, I'm not sure I want to get there," she said, looking down at her hands. She held them up for me to see. They looked just like mine - used hands full of aching knuckles, age spots and wrinkles. "But, apparently I'm going despite myself." We both sighed.
The next day, a particularly warm one for late October, she stopped by to chat. I was out on the glider swing in my yard, basking in the sunshine. I was dressed in the shorts I kept putting away and taking back out as the weather see-sawed through early autumn. She laughed when I stood up.
"Look!" she cried. "You have gnome knees, too!"
I looked down. Sure enough, my knees looked like they belonged to the Saggy-Baggy Elephant. I thought wistfully of the ultra-slim me of years before. I went inside to put on the kettle (and a pair of concealing jeans.)
"It seems like our ends give out first," J said over tea. "My feet ache, my hands ache, even my hair hurts. And look at it!" She pulled a hank of it forward. "It has no body, it won't hold a curl, it isn't even a color anymore."
We consoled ourselves with a piece of pie. Chocolate cream. I'd had a craving the day before. "At least my end is plump," I observed. "And it matches my knees." Pie does wonders for all things saggy - including self esteem.
Speaking of decline, if there is one book you are going to read this year, make it Peak Everything by Richard Heinberg. It might scare you (he talks about inevitables) but it also might make you take a look at our society as you would your aging body and start now to make what amends you can and plans around what you can't fix. For this decline, we've had plenty of red flags.