Friday, February 17, 2017

Wearing Fifty (a poem)

I've been wearing 50 for a week now.
It feels the same as 49
but not exactly.

Fifty+1 week is not
"Do I have more gray?" or
"Why does my body not work the way it used to."

It is more
"I have fewer years to live than I have lived" and
"What do I want my health to be 10 years from now" and
"Am I making the difference that I dreamed I would make?"

Fifty is
12000 steps a day
3x a week at Primal

wrestling with a kid's vegan lifestyle
Rehydrating chickpeas and making hummus every other day.
Learning what to do with winter melon.

checking on the physical and mental health of my children
counseling my husband on career possibilities
starting a Facebook conversation to activate an intervention for a friend
back home whose alcoholism is damaging her whole life

seeing a spiritual counselor for my soul and shoulder
reading Eckhart Tolle a second time to re-center on the Power of Now
writing a poem about fifty, because I like poetry and want to like 50
understanding my dad just that much more as he turned 80

trying to help a hurt street kitten,
and knowing the best thing for it is to be with its feral mom
seeing a college acquaintance in the semi-finals of Americas Got Talent
staying in touch with family through Skype on the weekends

worrying about climate change and pollution levels in Hong Kong
then reminding myself not to worry - stay PRESENT
valuing mindfulness

loving teaching "Where are you going? Where have you been?"
to seniors who get just as creeped out as I do by the story.

Finding Cat Street antique market on a family outing.
Living in freakin' Hong Kong!  How am I in Hong Kong?
That's so crazy!

Realizing that I don't have a clue what life will bring.


Dialogue in the Dark

Last week at this time I was with Mr. Kersten’s freshman Humanities in Action class at Dialogue in the Dark in Hong Kong.  There we were led by someone who is blind - our guide was Andrew - through a completely dark simulation of Hong Kong.

In my small group of six people we walked through a park, through an intersection to a store, past recycle bins and a car, onto a boat for a boat ride, then to a theater, and finally to a cafe where we could order a drink and take it to our table.  It all sounds so simple.  Or maybe it sounds too hard.  I don’t know which.  But we were given a white cane and a guide to take us through the experience kindly.

What I learned that I thought I knew already: It’s dark in the dark!  You have to use other senses like touch and hearing more.  The cane is helpful for letting you know where to go.  The beeping sound in the crosswalk is for the blind to know when to cross.  The corrugated tiles indicate where you are on the sidewalk. 

What I learned that I didn’t already know: You can tell where people are in relation to you, just by their voice.  You can tell if they are standing or seated.  It’s easy to bump into someone even if you have the cane.  You can tell where you are by a combination of sensations (grass under your feet, birds singing, gentle breeze, people talking in the distance).  You can tell which way you are going when you are on a boat, due to the direction of the wind.  Hearing a movie sparks your imagination.  You can give and receive money fairly easily when purchasing.  You can easily drink from a bottle without spilling.  You can keep your balance on something rickety.  You can tell which fruit is which just by touch and smell and size.  You can identify objects by touch - like a life preserver, a car, a bicycle, or a rope.  You can feel the presence of others and enjoy conversation, no differently from the sighted. You can hear the landscape change - like going from a street to grass. 

We spent 67 minutes in the dark with Andrew.  He always would ask where each of us was and then he knew where we were and where we were in relation to our surroundings.  For example, he warned me about a wastebasket nearby.  When we finished, he entertained questions in the light.  We could see him, but he was still living in the dark.  Amazing.