Today, October 6, is my 70th birthday. I don't remember feeling OLDER when I was 50 or 60, but this time, I do. I've spent the day trying to figure out what's going on -- indeed, today I didn't do anything but sit in a comfortable chair, watch endless and disheartening news about America's newest paranoid reaction to yet another supposed "contagion" (one case of Ebola in Texas, when we SHOULD be worrying about hundreds of kids sick with Enterovirus or maybe the fact that measles is resurging.....parents unwilling to vaccinate innocent children....and so on.) And then I remembered how knitting and crochet increase endorphins in the brain, so I've also been making yarn-paintings on some linear squares (log cabin). All in all, a non-day of exactly the kind we need from time to time.
I'm still going to go to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in ten days or so -- Wish I could find someone who'd like to share the driving. But, if not, I have been gifted at least with a lovely offer of a house in Williamstown, MA -- owned by Melissa and Tom Cragg -- and so I can spend some time in the Berkshires coming and going. What a joy. A belated birthday gift.
All is well. Aging is inevitable. People say it's not the body's age that matters -- but of course it is the body's age that matters. We wear out. It's difficult only to realize that life really WILL end, that we have very little to say about it, and that I will never be able to do everything that I have set out to do. I have another book to write. I wish (against reality) to find lots and lots of students in the fiber studio who really want to learn TECHNIQUE rather than simply to copy things that already exist. I want to believe -- no, I need to believe -- in the human race's capacity for creation and innovation. I have particular faith in women's abilities -- and, after a class this past weekend when two of my students didn't even want to try something completely new, I sometimes lose faith. That's my Achilles heel. I cannot lose faith -- not in others, and not in myself.
I am sure this sense of extreme contingency and mortality will pass. But, for now, I feel an intense, not quite unbearable, ineffable sadness. svb
POSTSCRIPT: My heartfelt thanks go out to the students in the freeform class who came back the next week, reminded me that new things can be scary, and affirmed my faith in THEM and in the human race. What lovely, lovely people. I, too, have things to learn.