“The wiser mind mourns less for what age takes away than what it leaves behind.” William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art.× Stanislaw Jerzy Lec
There is an article in the latest iteration of Hohe Luft [Lofty Air] that asks us to protest Death. Which at first take seems absurd: how to protest an inevitable event that marks the transformation from organic to in-? How to appeal to the conclusive force majeure of the human condition? It is no political envoy, it hath no powers of reason, it just happens. For a while we are and then, things having gone badly at last, we are no longer. Tragic but as true as the laws of physics and identically insurmountable. What could this philosopher of Hohe Luft wish to signify? Explain himself he does.
We protest our own coming inexistence by living life, living it to the hilt, the overflowing brim, rather than just sticking around. In doing, so he, we assert existence to the fullest. The piece, endlessly more ingenious than I can hope to recapture here, is above all a clarion call to a full life, to a good life. Even if it avoids the most difficult questions of them all: what are we to do?
Right then and there, reading it on the balcony, age 35, living back home with my progenitors, stuck in the last year of my 3rd round of higher education, enjoying the mild summer evening, the immediate answer seemed running. But I didn’t, haven’t, instead took to the keyboard. Which is not to say that running isn’t, at all times, an absolutely fabulous idea. It’s a simple, pure and contemplative way of asserting one’s own existence, as well as testing its limits. How hard and how long is one willing to propel one’s body forward? But I didn’t. Not that moment. Not necessarily due to laziness but more to acknowledge the difficulty of choosing the right thing to do. [And due to long-standing fantasies of a summer’s midnight run :)]. Writing can be equally powerful: to propel the words and meaning across the frightfully empty space of the page in search of a meaning, a narrative that will remain forever… elusive. I mean, there is such a thing as a finished story or a polished article but it’s a bit like coming to the brick wall at the end of the universe. On the other side another continues star-spangingly indifferent to the adjacent one until the far end wall of this universe number two, thence walled-in universe number 3 et cetera, ad infinitum, ad elysium. It reminds me a bit of the recovering alcoholic, climbing and falling off the ramparts of each individual 24-hour castle, on the run from King Booze. Or slaying, time and again, the DipsoDragon.
But as living, breathing writer it is my to-be-filled-in-potential to write up as much meaning as I possibly can. And this possibly contains the space and choice of doing other things. Which one has to actively not do if writing [or other activities of excellence] is to lead anywhere eventually. The most important one being not to die. We don’t just tell death ‘Not today’, we do something today.
Anyway, a few temblors have shook my existence. A coupl’a white hairs have …come forth. As if their non–coloration weren’t conspicuous enough they are long and thickish, freakishly making themselves seen amidst the black brambles. I couldn’t have missed them, not with my sister and mother and girlfriend gleefully pointing them and then pulling them out. [Because a mirror is somehow not enough.] Maybe that’s why they are so thick, so that they won’t get pulled out but hold their grounds as reminder of coming senescence.
I didn’t feel too wildly in either direction, nostalgia for youth or exhilaration of death’s approach. But it did seem to me like my body was very pointedly sending me a message: “i can’t keep doing this shit much longer, i wont, shit, i can’t even get the hair right anymore”. My body can’t put bloody little black particles of whatnot in certain hairs…there is a microscopic sense of personal failure about this. Despite all the hours at the gym, the hundreds of kilometers spent running, my body is slowly going the way of all flesh. If you put in 10’000hours or 100’000, it’s no matter to the ultimate outcome: earth shall hath thee again. Time is winning the unwinable race. And, of course, it’s not even a race, what it is is simple passage, entropy having away at happy little convergences of negentropy. The tooth of time. Perhaps I still harbored some childhood fantasies of immortality I didn’t know about: blasted now! The nutrients are being reclaimed by gravity, hair first.
Yay, a few hairs now are white instead of black. Don’t they know better? How dare they? Have I not just recently made a switch to a super-expensive, French-sounding shampoo? Have I not accorded them the finest L’Oreal products? When I treat my coif to the L’Oreal Fructis gel, making them extraordinary curly and glossy in a way that time and again elicits remarks of trichological surprise [similar to cutting one’s hair every six to twelve months and people then perplexedly referencing it like they had never seen one short-haired before], the white strands still stand out in a bastardly way, way above the jet-black fray, as though they hadn’t had their helping of Fructis: stiff, errant, barely curled, ridiculous harbingers of physical deterioration. If there is one thing I could tell my body in response it would be that it is repeating itself. The bad knees on the day after a long run, the long recovery from a night of intermediately hard boozing, the constantly clamoring lower back [a rich source of sorrow], the idiosyncratic flourishes of pain at random times in equally random places, the forgetting of names that should never be forgotten, all these and more have made me well aware of being, so to speak, on the downward sloping home-stretch. No need to rub it in my… scalp by sprouting these recalcitrant white buggers. But here they are. Really, I haven’t paid them as much mind as these lines suggest; for a while I suggested that my sister was seeing things, the angle of the light and so forth. Now I benevolently ignore them, the proof of which is making no attempts at plucking them out, however egregiously they decide to protrude from the remainder of my docile ‘do.
What options are there anyway? Coloration for one. But the price of the product in relation to the number of maverick strands is prohibitive. Come to consider which, there will have to be eventually a rant against the exorbitant prices of hair-care products on these pages. Also, coloration must be quite a mess: the color splashing everywhich way in the bathroom dying the fingers some horrible tell-tale variety of black, not black proper but instead licorice, dark plume, dirty purple, a color that will make one look like one had just cast one’s first democratic vote [courtesy of a US-strawligarch] in some obscure central asian country. Nor does the color just stop at the ten digits, instead it seeps into the scalp either discoloring it or turning it black too, the end effect of which is aesthetically extremely unfortunate. Especially compared to said SOB albino fibers that can only be seen inside girlfriend-proximity-range. Then there’s the burnt-earth strategy of razing it all to the ground but again this is a question of proportionality: why give up such an opulent source of [faux] flattery when only so few stroll within true optical shot of the offending strands? And even less have the effrontery to tell the emperor that…Winter is coming…hair foremost.
On the whole, thus far, it’s a minor trichological predicament. As compared to the rampant hair loss of one terre batu Rafa whose issues only really could be addressed by going all out Agassi, a strategy that would seem premature in this young man’s life and that many a head-shape will easily foil, exacerbate even. Moreover he could do himself and the empathic viewers a big favor by simply less often directing his mole-like gaze [I’m willing to put future-stream-of-income on RaNa having been a mole or suchlike animal in his previous existence; a nice mole, a considerate mole, a mole that will grant you the right of dig and then continue his own frantic tunneling through dirt] down towards his sand-crusted sneakers. He could adopt the finger randomly poking at and massaging facial features approach of legion other top-flight athletes, which looks good because many of these incredible physical specimens, have equally incredible long-fingered hands and you find yourself wondering what they will do to their face next… hoping darkly for one of those oblivious nosepicks.