Thursday, October 15, 2015

I just returned from a trip to Orlando. Most of my time was spent at a convention, but Susanne and I did take one day to go to Sea World. Susanne wanted to see the penguins and I was curious about what might have changed since my last visit about forty years ago.
One of the differences which became obvious fairly quickly was that we were a lot older than most of the visitors. Not many folks in their sixties or seventies. What’s with that?

Since I still felt about twelve inside, however, it didn’t slow me down…much. However, as I stood in line to do the roller coaster water slide, I started to understand. The entire time I waited in line I was besieged by the warnings trying to scare away old people. We were informed that people with heart problems, high blood pressure, fainting issues, headaches, diabetic coma problems and about seventeen other potential health problems should not do the ride. It was worse than hearing the side effects for all the prescription drugs they try to sell us on TV. It turned out to be a mild type of roller coaster and I seemed to survive okay. I think that all the warnings were the scariest part.

They were right about getting wet, however. I realized I was probably in trouble when even the kids were suddenly pulling out ponchos once we got into the cars. As I emerged soaking wet in a tee shirt, Susanne pointed out that the Antarctica exhibit was right next door. Still in my twelve year old mind set, I said let’s go. I realized my mistake when we got inside and the guides were wearing ski parkas. I lasted about ninety seconds in the sub-freezing penquin exhibit, and then waited in the sunshine outside while Susanne spent another ten minutes developing a close friendship with the guide and the little stars of the show.

The rest of the park was about as expected and didn’t seem too different from my last trip there. There were dolphin and seal shows, and sharks and small whales, and lots and lots and lots of walking. I was starting to figure out why the grandparents were all sitting by the pool at the hotel. We made it for about five hours and then collapsed for the rest of the day and night.

In reality I had a few worn parts by the end of the day and also, after spending part of the day in a very cold, wet tee shirt, I had to concede that my twelve year old mind was preventing me from reaching that “age of wisdom” that is supposed to be one of the benefits of getting older.

The following poem Spare Parts (Daydreams, Snap Screen Press, 2004) pretty much says it all.

Glenn K. Currie

                       Spare Parts


                                                Part of me,
                                                            Is getting old.
                                                Hesitant steps,
                                                            Which once were bold.
                                                My body’s strength,
                                                            Starting to soften,
                                                Repair bills coming,
                                                            Much too often.
                                               
                                                Part of me,
                                                            Is still a child.
                                                A playful mind,
                                                            Easily beguiled.
                                                But youthful players,
                                                            Now pass me by,
                                                An aging fa├žade,
                                                            Draws empty eyes.

                                                Part of me,
                                                            Is out of sight,
                                                Yesterday’s dreams,
                                                            Lost in the night.
                                                All the things,
                                                            That might have been,
                                                Hidden now,
                                                            By what I am.

                                                Part of me,
                                                            Is still a fool,
                                                A circling pilot,
                                                            Losing fuel.
                                                Trying to be,
                                                            What I’m not,
                                                Wasting the parts,
                                                            That I’ve still got.

                                                And part of me,
                                                            Has learned a lot,
                                                Hard-earned lessons,
                                                            Painfully taught.
                                                Things accomplished,
                                                            Things still to do,
                                                An age of wisdom,
                                                            Would be something new.