Monthly Archives: May 2013

Lifetime

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A recent birthday prompted a conversation about age.  A friend is in total denial about aging,  “No” she says, “you’re not old!”  As though that were a terrible thing.  Being, I would say, on the cusp of old age (but vigorous, not frail) I feel that there is some merit in having lived so long and I no longer want to deny the fact.  The problem is partly one of semantics.  Nowadays we would not say that a thirty-five year old is middle aged, although in fact they are.  Yet there is a big difference between the youth of one who is in their mid-thirties, and one who is, say, nineteen or twenty.  Just as the word “tween” has come to describe that awkward period where a child is not yet a youth, but certainly not like a seven or eight year old child, we need words to describe the time between young adult and middle age, and the time between middle age and old age. 

As a child I remember observing the older people in my community.  I was very aware of the two kinds of elders who lived amongst us.  There were the vigorous ones, with strong voices, who fully participated in life.  Then there were the frail ones.  I understood that when a vigorous elder moved into the frail category, they would soon die.  This was in the mid twentieth century when the frail did not survive as long as perhaps they do today.  One day a man or woman was hale, the next their voices began to quaver and their bodies seemed to shrink, and a few weeks or months later they were gone.

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What does “anhaga” mean?

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Anhaga is an Old English word which can be translated as “lone one”, or “solitary warrior.” I use it to mean “lone wanderer.”  Since my earliest days I have felt alone.  Here is a verse from a poem composed when I was perhaps seventeen or eighteen, and even then I was building on a body of work which had this as a recurrent theme:

The wanderer walked along his life,

His heart his load,

No friend had he in all the world

Except the road.

Diamond

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Diamond

Acknowledgements:  Found on Facebook – Catalyzing Change — with Mario Poutzo, Chamila Perera, Rens de Leur, Marche Je te Suije, Sirirat Silakotr, Anita Kolckhorst, Cher Koziol, Erica Leok, Ahmad Ali Khan, EL Mirou, Melissa Leach, Beto Musso, Ayesha Murady and Rachael M. Rudolph.