We feel young until we are forced to feel old.
I suppose that for any number of us the criteria by which we equate with feeling old are much different, and occur at different points in our lives. As for myself, there have been times in the past when I have definitely felt as if I am rounding a corner of sorts, or as it were, turning a page; now is such a time.
Next week, I am going in to be fitted for dentures. The week following– I’ll begin the process in earnest by having the upper teeth (what remains of them) extracted. After this, I’ll take a few days or a week for some discomfort to subside, and will then go back for the lower teeth to be removed. There are no more teeth waiting beneath the gum as was the case with losing the “baby teeth”. This is a finality of its own kind, one that is without compare… indeed, it cannot be compared, at least not until it is experienced. At that late date, I’m unsure what good, if any, could come of comparisons. It is simply done. This is a corner to be rounded, that’s for sure.
This is what I’ll term as a marker in life, albeit one that is physical and mostly superficial. In days past, a “mark” was used to describe a particular unit of money, and all denominations had them, that defined… a money of account. For instance, in Britain, the money of account is the Pound Sterling; in the United States, it is the Dollar. One does not NEED to actually possess one of these notes or coins to “have”, or likewise to “owe”, that particular marker of wealth or debt– the markers only need to exist. In this way, we all have some commonality to compare to, and know where one might stand financially.
Accordingly, as humans, there are similar markers which are recorded, kept, and eventually
paid out along our travels. If these are peculiar to the human condition, then they are not intrinsic in nature, such as the Dollar or Pound Sterling. Even still, they exist as mile posts that all pass by. For some, these posts include a toll of sorts, for others, many miles… or years… will pass before some payment is demanded and a page turned.
These “markers” that we must pay, are recorded against us from the day we first breathe in until our final breath is exhaled. We may not know how many or how much will eventually be demanded, only that some payments will be expected to be made until the end is apparent… and the chest collapses, expelling the last vestiges of life itself. At that moment, the final marker in mortality is paid out, and we slip into eternity.
Although some markers may be evident to all and physical in nature, such as losing teeth or perhaps walking with a cane in old age, others are less visible to the outside. Indeed, they are only visible to ourselves if we choose to look inward, and then only if we acknowledge all of those faults and imperfections of the soul. We all possess these but very few, if any, actually choose to account for these and either correct them or pay out these most difficult of markers while we still draw breath. I believe it to be an irrefutable fact that the most successful and strongest among us are also those who deal with these silent debts as they are accrued! No matter what the emotional and sometimes real cost, there are those very few that will not allow the sun to set while they hold some imperfection. This is the art of building strong character, one that is relatively free of blemishes, and these beautiful souls are few and very far between. The reason for this lies in the fact that to constantly deal with and heal one’s inner self is not a pleasant affair, and is not for the faint of heart.
Accordingly, as most of us are faint of heart and are not fond of unpleasant affairs, we stash these flaws away, always hoping to “fix them later”. Unfortunately, later seldom comes and then it must be that these long away hidden markers are not paid out at all, at least not willingly. If such be the case, then the payment must be made unwittingly, and if this is the scenario, then our character or even legacy will suffer for the unfortunate timing and demand of those payments.
As this happens, we become bitter in old age, losing bits and pieces here and there in ways that are actually payments demanded. As the markers long hidden become apparent, the humanity that remains is most often all that remains that will suffice as payment, and we are that much poorer in spirit. It then follows that as we age, we dwindle in stature and whatever may have been left of our legacy becomes quickly non-existent and then falls into arrears. We then appear as paupers, barely clinging to any form of decency at all. This is the fate for those who attempt to forego the markers owed. Meanwhile, for those strong and fortunate few who pay as they go; well, they increase in all things as they age– for they owe nothing!
Back to my teeth, and the several marks which I owe.
By losing my teeth, I am beaten into submission by my mortality that life is passing, and my–oh–my it passes quickly! With no teeth, I must now be old, or at least, older, than I have ever been before. As the teeth will not return, neither will the time. Of the many things that we do not know with certainty, I know will know that I will die toothless. Perhaps my last hope in vanity will rest with a mortician’s ability to properly place my dentures inside the cold mouth, so that the face and jaws are not more sullen and sunken in death than need be.
And so, the teeth, and all that they represent; youth, beauty, virility, hunger, and the appearance of longevity… this will all be gone. Indeed, this marker is one that holds a very high physical and emotional toll.
But again, all of our mileposts are not so evident or apparent.
I hold markers deep inside that I have refused to pay on until that final accounting has begun. These are essentially character flaws, but I have sworn not to acknowledge them in life. Through good works the hope has been that these debts will be diminished, but I now know this will not be the case. An accounting is demanded of us all, whether in this life or the next.
If practicality then were to rule the day, as is the case with my pathetic teeth, it would seem that the time for accounting has ended, and the time for payment must commence! What is there that is holding me back from being one of the few and far between, the strong and successful among us all– that man which is feared not for doing harm, but for acting with honor and for doing the right thing. Such actions do cause men to be feared, as the vast majority are afraid of the consequences of correcting ONE’S SELF! To admonish your own soul, your own fiber, your own being is a dreadful task. And yet, it is time to begin the challenge.
Shall I pay my markers out, at my choosing, and increase in strength; increase in longevity; and increase my humanity? Or, should I elect to continue down a pathway of denial, and allow others to take from me those marks owed, at the time of THEIR own choosing, which will certainly diminish me; defame me; and ultimately– destroy me completely?
The question is not mine alone– it is one for any among us, and is answerable from that time at which we know the question exists. … What will we become?
Men with Honor, or Mice in Denial?
Concerning markers? I will choose to pay what I can, when I can, until I have become even with the world.
We WILL feel young until we are FORCED to feel old. If that be the case, then let me do my work required while I am still young– so that I may not suffer too much when I am old.