Saturday, March 17, 2012

Somethin' Wicked This Way Comes. . .

Who doesn’t like the “new car” smell?  You step inside and everything is shiny and functioning—eagerly you wait to take your ‘potential’ new car for a test drive.  Oh the feeling of being behind the wheel, adjusting the seat and smiling from ear to ear.  Just riding around the block a couple of times have made up your mind for you.  The next thing you know, you’re signing your name on the dotted line, and driving away with your “new” car.  Not only did you come equipped with the down-payment for the new car, you traded in your old one.  As you look back at the car sitting off to the side of the lot, looking sad and pitiful—memories flood your mind of all the times that car got you through.  You remember how great you felt when your old car was, at one time, new.  But, unfortunately, time has elapsed and began its erosion magic, or rather, curse, and that once great car, over the years, got old—so with one last ditch effort left, you used it as leverage toward your new vehicle.  Most everyone will experience this moment more than once in their lives.

Remember when you received your first pet (for those who ever had one)?  That little bundle of fur was so cute and cuddly, as you scrambled to come up with a name for your new family pet.  You didn’t want to leave your new found friend behind, while you traveled to school because all you could think about was getting back home so you’d have some playing time.  When you received your fur ball, you were in grade school, and by the time you were about to graduate high school, you were still blessed to have your pet.  You’ve noticed over the years how tired he/she is, how that spark in their eye appears a little dull, and that pep in their step has dwindled to almost a screeching halt.  They sleep more, eat less, and are probably riddled with arthritis, but you still love your pet all the more.  Time has left its footprints on your best friend, as it has done to you, but it doesn’t change how you feel.  You know that soon your pet will be visiting animal heaven, and you shiver at the thought and push it from your mind.

“Some would say he was born with a football in his hand—for that is all this boy thinks about.  He sleeps, eats and breathes football,” advised a proud mother of a student athlete.  This mom watched her son go from Little League all the way to the Pros and she couldn’t be happier.  Her son is living out his dream, making good money, and everyone in the NFL is vying for this young hopeful’s attention.  He keeps it very “hush-hush” with whom he decides to sign with, but once the media gets hold of the story, it breaks like a viral flu.  This young man gives his blood, sweat and tears to the team—not to mention many years of devoted service, but once again, time has been unforgiving and his body is showing it—so now the League, the fans, and some of his teammates feel it’s time to call it quits—but, the problem is, he’s not ready—so what is an athlete to do?  Being 35-years old is young according to our terms of aging, but that’s “92-years old” in athletic terms.  Finally, a dream is coming to an end!  Or is it?

Life has a beginning, middle and end.  Everything that is new, will eventually get old, but just because time effects each and every one of us, does that mean we’re to throw away these things that we once held so near and dear when it were new?  What is it about time that we’re running from exactly?  And why do we ‘mistreat’ things that are old—what happened to experience, dignity and some damn ‘respect’?  I hear the term in the media, as well as in the community, he’s “old, washed up and needs to give it up!”  “Old people should step aside and make room for the young!”  “Find something else to do, old people, because your services are no longer needed!”  Pretty harsh for people who have been there and done that and have paved the way for many of our asses.  If it weren’t for those old people, you wouldn’t be where you are!  New parents watch their children grow, give them love and nurture them to be decent citizens to participate in life and succeed.  Isn’t it funny how these same lucky children grow up and suddenly find their parents a ‘burden’ when they become old?  I suppose that’s their way of showing their gratitude for the sacrifices their parents made for them—throw them in some adult living facility or nursing home, and go on their merry way.  Life’s funny that way isn’t it? 

There are some people who give more respect to an old pair of cut-up jeans rather than to give it to an elder.  What terrifies me is that I’m certainly not getting any younger, and yet everywhere I look, I see my friends, family and loved ones aging and immediately I begin to think, jeez, I’m going to be that ‘old’ person one day!  Hell, to some of my friends’ children, I am already that old person compared to their young impressionable ages.  How do you tell an employee who has worked for a company more than 30 plus years that you are being forced to retire because the job wants to do away with your position, or give it to some ‘young’ person—paying them less than half of what you were being paid?  Much like the athlete who has paid his dues to his team and organization, being told, not asked, to get out because you’re old and suffice it to say, they can’t ‘use’ you anymore—so you’re rendered useless, even if you feel you have a year or two left in you!  Where’s the loyalty? 

I’ll tell you where the loyalty is—it never existed.  When dealing with the cycle of life, I’ve learned that the only person you can be loyal to is yourself!  Your job doesn’t give a damn about you one way or the other?  I don’t care how many years of service you have put in, YOU can be replaced at any time or fashion, whenever they take a notion to.  Trust me, as you embark the corporate ladder, there is some young whipper snapper taking a look at the rungs you just exited, trying to see how he may pull one out and make your ass fall down a peg or two!  And you want to hear something funny, nine times out of ten; this ‘young’ person who is gunning for your position is probably the same ‘young’ person you had to train.  Isn’t that just a kick in the teeth!  Your old-30-plus-years-of-experience has just trained your own replacement—gotta love that corporate bitch of a ladder.  There’s your loyalty, ladies and gentlemen, exposing its Cheshire grin and snickering behind it as you ask yourself what the hell just happened here?  Loyalty, what a joke, and you had no idea you were the brunt of it!  Guess the laugh’s on you!

Aging is not kind at all.  To hell with the number you advance each year, what about the pain of aging, and I’m not talking just physical pain.  The pain of loss of loved ones, loss of dignity (from the way others treat you), loss of respect and care.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but today’s seniors aren’t like seniors of yesteryear.  Grandparents are living longer, healthier years, and they don’t just sit around at some home.  Erase from your mind those old people who sit in some rocking chair knitting or at some lodge looking out a window reflecting on their past years.  No, seniors today are very active!  They travel, gamble, and do pretty much whatever the hell they want, and that’s the way life should be.  Damn it—they’ve earned it!

Society may tell older Americans they are no longer needed, but it’s funny how when the job finally casts them out and about, their young predecessors can’t do half the stuff your old timer was able to do.  In many cases, some seniors are finding that their jobs ask them to come back to work either part-time or full, and in some cases, as a consultant for them.  But this is the same old person you claimed their services were no longer needed.  Often times, your children who took a few seconds to decide your old ass was going to a home, are the same children who will call you for money when they need it.  And sometimes they go as far as to remove you from that home and into theirs, all for the sake of having your money at their disposal.  Keep in mind, these are the children you adored and raised to be respectable human beings.  You see how much they thought of you when you got old!   

To the old athlete that some in the League don’t feel has much left to offer, may suddenly be singing a different tune when that old timer, being the free agent the League forced him to be, signs with some other team, and does relatively well.  There was no way to let this older athlete retire after a year so he could remain with his original team?  Even though this athlete was willing to take less money, they couldn’t find any way to keep him, despite some teammates restructuring their salaries so that he could remain?!  Where is the loyalty and dignity for this athlete—in outer space somewhere?  See what I mean, it doesn’t exist!  As the old saying goes, out with the ‘old’ and in with the ‘new’, people truly live up to those words.

So here are some words I want you to read and remember very carefully for I mean every word I’m about to say with every molecule within my soul.  All the mean things you may say to an old person; all the old people you throw out of their long-term jobs; all of the old people you force to train their replacements; all the old people you throw into homes and assisted living facilities; and all the old/young athletes Professional Leagues toss away like yesterday’s garbage—time is waiting on you!

There’s a clock riding your back like a cowboy clinging to hang onto its bull—except no matter how much you try to push the clock off, it is unmovable.  Time is a patient son-of-a-bitch and continues to tick whether you like it or not.  I don’t care how many lifts, tucks, sucks, plucks, and/or pulls you perform on your aging body to turn that clock back, time wins each and every time hands down!  YOU can’t outrun it.  YOU can’t avoid it. YOU can’t hide from it.  YOU can’t remove it!  YOU can’t reverse it!  YOU can’t trick it!  YOU can’t fight it!  YOU can’t stop it!  Time claims everyone and eventually hands you over, quite willingly, to death.  Why?  Because time is the only thing that never dies nor ages, but its measurement is unmistakable and unforgiving for it rolls right over you no matter how stuck you are mentally—which is why those who fight age are sure to lose the battle, and you may find that when you piss time off, it speeds up the aging process faster.  Ever wonder why people who just accept time as a way of life often look better than those who struggle against it?

Next time you find yourself abusing an older person because your young ass is too impatient to wait your damn turn, or you make a rather rude and insensitive remark about an older person, remember your good friend ‘time!’ The very thing you are doing to them, time is slowly doing to you—that is, if you’re lucky to get older! Time is with you each and everyday, but you don’t notice him yet because he’s lulled you in a false sense of security—for now! One day, you’ll wake up and begin to really ‘see’ and ‘feel’ how you’ve changed, how other’s change toward you, and see if you feel the same way about old people when you become one! Hope you handle it as well as those before you—with dignity and heads held high! The next time when you see an older person smiling at you like they’re withholding a secret and not willing to share—that’s because they do have a secret. They know your time is coming—and why wouldn’t that put a smile on one’s face?!

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet
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