There was a time I felt almost goat-like in my ability to balance and walk a treacherous line. I remember free climbing the nearly vertical, 75 foot high Sugar Loaf rock on Mackinac Island in Michigan then needing guidance on the way down because I could not see the footholds. I remember walking on rocks at the edges of the Bright Angel trail descending into the Grand Canyon where a misstep meant certain injury or worse. That was in my early to mid-twenties. More than half my years ago. The time in one’s life when immortality is a truth upon which we live our lives.
The confidence has long since gone. I had to concentrate for balance on the curved exit pipe and found myself almost slip into the water. When I look into the future now, mortality is the horizon.
The words of the poet Robinson Jeffers which were once simply beautiful images making my ears smile have become poignant to the point where I understand his reality, the reality that will someday be mine.
…I am growing old, that is the trouble. My children and grandchildren
Will find their way, and why should I wait ten years yet,
having lived sixty-seven, ten years more or less
Before I crawl out on a ledge of rock and die snapping, like a wolf
Who has lost its mate? I am bound by my own thirty-year-old
decision: who drinks the wine
Should take the dregs; even in the bitter less and sediment
New discovery may I lie. The deer in that beautiful place lay
down their bones: I must wear mine.
From: The Deer Lie Down Their Bones by Robinson Jeffers.