Let Some Things Stay the Same

George and Amal Clooney seem to be having a pretty good life. I’m not in their league. The politicians and criminals that show up in my news feed seem to be having uniformly rotten lives. I’m not in their league either.  I’m not on vacation at the Amalfi Coast or celebrating the million-dollar payoff on the movie option of one of my books. (Wish I were) But I’m not in prison or the ICU.  (Glad I’m not) How things are is generally … okay. I still have some weight to lose; I owe a debt I’m paying down; one of my kids can’t figure out what she wants to be or do; I have to fix the loose bricks on the front walk before somebody trips and breaks some bones. But my children are well. My few and treasured friends are healthy. I keep noticing, and reminding myself to notice, that this is one of the most uneventful periods I’ve ever had in my life. I’m thrilled by that. These are the good old days, distinguished by their sameness. I tend to be a person to whom things happen,  or, as my brother puts it, I have lots of luck – both kinds. Sometimes, I get surprise compliments or exciting mail, but if there is a hole in the sand or a rock to roll an ankle, I will find that and fall in it or on it.  Once, I got the chance to teach in Italy, all expenses paid and a little salary. We arrived at the most delicately elegant small hotel on earth. The balcony overlooked a little gem of a lake. But the owner loved cats, so there must have been thirty of the beasts in residence, preening and staring and yowling. I wheezed and sneezed for eight straight days. But right now, these days, I’ve had no special luck, good or bad, no reviews, good or bad, no windfalls,  just even times. Someone else might be bored. I don’t think that I have ever been bored in my life because there is always something to do or write or to read. I want it to be like this for the rest of my days.

Still, as the old poem by Robert Frost says,

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay

Leave a Comment