Presently aging

What do you mean that the Concert for Bangla Desh happened almost 50 years ago?!?  That was just one of the ways that getting old hit me in the face this week.

First, my taiji teacher asked me if I was related to Tom Daly, a taiji teacher she knows in New York.  When I said that I wasn’t, she said she was relieved not to have “his father” in her class.  Yes, I have three offspring who are probably Tom Daly’s age or older, but do I have to look it?  To someone who’s at least in her late 50s.

The next day, my physical therapist was talking with a colleague while stretching, pushing, and prodding my neck and shoulders. She mentioned a Leon, some contemporary musician they both liked.  I asked her if she’d ever heard of Leon Russell.  She hadn’t.  Not surprising for someone in her early 30s.  I said that whenever I hear “Leon,” it brings back George Harrison’s line from A Concert for Bangla Desh, “Now, a couple of numbers from Leon,” followed by Russell’s classic medley of “”Jumpin’ Jack Flash/Youngblood.”  She had never heard of the Concert from Bangla Desh.  She did know and love George Harrison and the Beatles.  When I looked up the YouTube link for the concert, I came up with the 40th Anniversary edition from 2011 and realized we were almost at the 50th anniversary.  I sent the link to her “to complete her musical education.”

As if these two reminders of aging were not enough, this morning I realized how badly my memory is going.  I’ve mentioned before Tricycle magazine’s Daily Dharma quotes that come in the mail every morning.  This morning’s caught my attention enough for me to follow the link through to the article from which it was excerpted.

The present moment is not defined solely by letting go of past and future, nor by accepting and appreciating what arises right now, but by choosing in this very moment how we make sense of the world.  – Jack Petranker, “The Present Moment

Sometimes I’ll save the article to read later, but since this was about “choosing in this very moment,” I read the article while drinking my first cup of coffee.  I was so deep into what Petranker had to say that I started to take notes on points to include in my essay on Buddhist reification.  What did I find but that not only had I read the article last year, I had already made notes on it for the essay.  This is why I have to write things down.

Some people say that old people live in the past.  Not me.  I can’t remember much beyond starting to write this post.  Petranker cites the Bhaddekaratta Sutta, which I’d forgotten but a search revealed I’ve already quoted twice in this blog, even with my own blended translation.  Once again its message points the way forward while we are getting old.

Do not wish for what used to be.
Do not hope for what will be.
What is past is dead and gone
And the future hasn’t come yet.

Look deeply into what’s right in front of you.
See what’s here and now,
Know it without moving around or getting upset:
that’s how you develop insight from the heart.

Eagerly do
what should be done today.
For—who knows?—tomorrow
You may die.

You can’t bargain with Death
to keep him and his armies away.

So, the Peaceful Sage tells us that
Each day that you live this way, with all your heart,
Never letting up by day or night,
Is a great day.

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