In old age we are like a batch of letters someone has sent. We are no longer in the past, we have arrived.
I'm a mad man. No, there's no doubt about it, I'm completely cracked; stark, shivering crazy. I've lost it.
Shakespeare calls old age "second chilishness." It is a theory that all babies are born insane and gradually grow into sanity and wisdom as they mature. I don't remember much about my babyhood but I'm of the opinion that it might be the other way around. I think it's possible that all babies are born completely sane and knowing everything which they can't articulate except to other babies and that they gradually grow to lose it in the carriages and play pens of the world. Imagine how frustrating it must be for a baby not being able to tell anyone what you know. It's enough to make you wet yur diaper and wake up in the middle of the night crying for no apparent reason.
Not having lived a normal life has taught me that there is no such thing. Being a wanderer has taught me that the only place anyone really lives is in his own head. And being an artist has taught me to gracefully let go of the ball and chain which is generally known to the world at large as common sense.
But being mad is a good healthy way to be as far as I can determine. I do illogical things. If I am on my way to the market I stop and feel the leaves of a tree or a bush. If I pass the kitchen sink I squeeze a little soap into the sponge and wash three dishes instead of the whole sink full. If anyone lived with me they would become exasperated at my behavior or else go mad themselves.
I say things no one understands. I know that, because every time I make a statement of pure, inspired wisdom it's met with a blank, uncomprehending stare. There's a small tree in front of the house. When I refer to it as "yonder wood" no one cares to know why.
When I find conservative nonsense and liberal grunting humorous people don't get it. But when I become fascinated by some obscure news item that doesn't make the papers or the TV news every day they just think I'm off the beaten path of life. Well, I am. I'm the crazy old loon who lives by himself in the attic, harmless in his madness. He listens to Wagner operas and reads philosophy. He's a total fruitcake.
The letters have been sent and read and the attempt to summarize the contents has taught me that there are no summations (which it also says in my Profile).
So what's left for an old crackpot to do? To what have I arrived? A certain benign orneriness, acceptance and refusal, an abiding sense of humor, willingness to face the fog and walk into it. I can now change my own diapers, if I wake up in the middle of the night the only thing I want to know is what time it is. I accept the fact that I will never have all the things in my playpen that I want. I refuse to get angry at any one but myself. I refuse to do today what I can put off to tomorrow. I don't follow the Phillies. I refuse to accept everything any authority tells me. I will think for myself and not worry about it if the thoughts come from the mind of a lunatic.
I refuse to be afraid of death. If you go to England you can visit the grave of Charles Dickens, but Dickens isn't there, he's still alive. If I could live my life all over again I would change almost everything. But would I then have something to summarize? I doubt it.
Being an actor has taught me that the world is a stage and the roles keep changing, but they are all masquerades. So I will set Sir Percival spinning, wash my hands and face in the words of some other old maniac's sink, play in my pen and enjoy, as much as possible, the role in which I have somehow cast myself.
DB - The Vagabond
(This is not a contest.)
In your opinion what is the most amazing thing that could happen during this decade? Make it as outrageous as you want but keep it within the realm of what you consider a possibility.
Only 4 responses so far.
Answers will be published the first day of Summer.
DB - The Vagabond