This Is Getting Old

Clever, wise, poetic, personal: Susan Moon's 2010 book this is getting old: Zen Thoughts on Aging with Humor and Dignity is a collection of essays that spin the wheel of life and smile at whatever number it stops on. Some bits appeared earlier elsewhere, such as "The Worst Zen Student That Ever Was", and some are new. Some are first-person confessionals, some are glimpses of family and friends, some are universal musings. Some are poignant, some bittersweet, some simple hilarity.

"What If I Never Have Sex Again?", asks a chapter, and begins:

I may never have sex again. May never lie spoon to spoon with another person. I don't feel like having sex right this minute, which is fortunate because I don't have anybody to have it with. But I'm not sure I'll keep on not wanting to have sex right this minute for the rest of my life. When I was younger and didn't have a partner I didn't think, "What if I never have sex again?" I assumed I was in between relationships. Now, in my mid-sixties, I wonder if I have quietly passed beyond "in between."

Even if I did want to have sex, maybe nobody would want to have sex with me. Confidence ebbs away as skin sags in private as well as public places. I suppose you could always resort to the cover of darkness, or never taking off your nightie, but can't fingers still feel the sag? Couples who grow old together get used to each other's sagging in slow increments, but it's a whole other matter to get to know somebody new when you're already wrinkled up. Plus, I'm not as bendable as I used to be.

I used to like sex a lot if I liked the person, but when I didn't have it, I didn't miss it much. Sometimes I missed the person. Saying I miss sex is like saying I miss wearing my hiking boots, when what I miss is standing at Paiute Pass watching the cloud shadows run across the lake below. I miss going where the hiking boots take me. "Having sex" isn't something that I can miss, all by itself, because I could never peel it away from the person who, moments before, might have been reading aloud to me in bed, and who, shortly afterward, might be snoring beside me just loud enough that I nudge him to quiet him.

Not having rolled in the hay for a while now—never mind exactly how long—I hardly ever think about it. I'm lucky not to want what I don't have. It's convenient. I want, as in lack, sex, but I don't want, as in desire, it. At the movies, in the erotic parts, I'm like an eight-year-old: "Oh, gross! Hurry up and finish this scene! It has nothing to do with me!


That's a representative sample of Moon prose: chatty, comfy, cute, clear. And lovely prose-poems, as in "The Secret Place" during a description of a childhood nook:

I lay on my back on the ground that was crunchy with lichen, while the sky did cartwheels around me. As the day came to an end, the sun's light turned a thicker and thicker yellow, and clouds rushed away from me into the void on the other side of the horizon and disappeared. This daily ending, staged with the smell of the bayberry and the crying of the gulls, gave me a lump in my throat— a shout I couldn't shout out.

Lots of "I", lots of looking in the rear-view mirror, lots of regrets, and lots of laughter. A finger pointing at the Moon ...

(cf. Mantra - Go for the Moon (2016-07-18), ...) - ^z - 2018-03-17