The Train to Rookwood. http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/37682.html
The Kerry O’Brian’s interview with Woody Allen last Wednesday night on the 7.30 report would have to be one of ABC’s best coups. Woody’s interviews are collector’s items as he is notoriously shy of publicity. His answers to Kerry’s questions were quirky, witty and to the point. His best was towards the end when he seemed to reject the notion that getting older equates to the getting of wisdom. On the questions of why we are here and what the point of life was, he remains modestly unsure. Whatever he gained through all the years, he would gladly have exchanged it all for; quote, ’wiping 35 years of the calendar’, adding with a distant look, that he would probably make the same mistakes all over again.
This might have been a bit tongue in cheek but made me think how much profit there is in getting older. Surely, there has to be some reward for having survived all the misery and sadness of having lived through so much uncertainty and the many difficulties. It is not unreasonable to assume that one becomes better with the passing of years at coping with some of the misfortunes and events that could, with foresight, have been avoided, and that the benefits of getting older begets us the wisdom to not repeat errors and mistakes into the future.
We plod on with expectations of improvements, and hope that with age, we will undoubtedly get rewards for the courage, determination and resilience in having cobbled something out of our lives. When enough time has lapsed we can have the luxury of reflectively taking stock and do the accounts, and hopefully find out, that, by and large, we stayed the course and that we had achieved the things that we sat out to reach with the positives having outweighed the negatives.
When young, and bursting with enthusiasm and raging hormones, we recklessly hurled ourselves into the future, taking and accepting risks, relationships and partners all at once and with wild abandonment. We brazenly and bravely fought to make our mark. Nothing would stop us and we blindly believed that hard work and enterprise would ensure a stake in prosperity and much goodness, not just for ourselves, but also for our offspring and others. Deposits would be made on house and car, schools for kids would be booked years in advance, and inexorably with the passing of a few more years, we would reap rewards by climbing into even better and bigger houses with more bathrooms now and larger cars with DVD player hooked from the back seat for kids to watch Shrek when driving somewhere and anywhere.
Did we also not take in our stride the misfortune of family life gone off at a tangent or even astray, with lives, like forgotten letters in the drawer, damaged or lost through accident, illness and inherited gene, or the scourge of modern age, addiction to evil substance?
With the advance of years beyond the half century, we fully expect that wisdom and experience will guide us to calmer waters and ease us into a nice and comfortable latter part or even, with the luck of robust health and benefit of not smoking anymore, to old age. We paid our dues and mortgage man is now finally sated. The credit card we will keep on sailing with, just in case of the unforseen, the failing of car or broken and worn washer-dryer, a trip to Venice or even Chile’s Santiago.
Having steamed through that post mortgage, and for some, post marriage years, we have now travelled to the beginning of an advanced age with the cheerful Newsletter and Senior’s card in the post. The Senior Newsletter has holidays for the advanced seniors at Noosa and a plethora of advertisements for those handy battery operated electric little carriages with shopping tray at the back. Are we to zoom in and out of shopping centres soon, using ramps up and down? With the sheer numbers appearing on footpaths now, it won’t be long and there could be outbreaks of motorized wheelchair-rage, could it not?
I suppose there has been a major drop-out of readers now. Who wants to get ahead that far?
Please, don’t get impatient. Just hang in here for another eighty or so of words, when at age eighty, we are almost there, indeed, we have arrived. How did we fare? It is time now to have one more go at something, perhaps golf for the very fit or, dread the thought, bowling with cricket gear all in pristine white and with men wearing neatly pressed pantaloons but suspiciously bulging when bending to bowl!
Once more, we listen hear and hum the forlorn ‘Le piano du Pauvre’.
I am nothing
Only in the generous eyes of others
Somehow, with The Train to Rookwood now at station, we have so far stumbled, bumbled but stoutly plotted on. Time has finally arrived, with casket to carriage, no time for regret.
Even to memory
Appears and goes away
With a scull
For a nod
The Train to Rookwood.
Poems by friend Bernard Durrant.