I’ll Never Forget What’s-His-Name
A new book from Rob McCall blends observations of the natural world and daily life with theology and literary quotes that readers of Awanadjo Almanack recognize as “seed pods.” Published in 2020, Some Glad Morning: Holding Hope In Apocalyptic Times is McCall’s latest offering to a world complicated by the global pandemic, divisive issues of all kinds, and a dizzying pace of modern daily life with little time for reflection.
As McCall writes in the book’s introduction, “Some Glad Morning is aimed straight at this malaise. Arranged on a circle of the seasons, this small volume offers daily rations of wisdom from Nature, reflections on ancient texts and contemporary culture, and practical action, all gathered with the hope of feeding the soul and strengthening the heart for these times.”
We offer the following excerpt from McCall’s book instead of a typical Almanack, to give you a taste, and a lighthearted start to a new year.
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Aging is a natural event, but there’s so much they just don’t tell you ahead of time. In a youth-obsessed culture, passing 40 or 50 or (gasp!) 60 is a little like being cast out into the wilderness without a map. Yet, there are many marvels and mysteries to be revealed to open eyes and minds in those farther fields. First, some cautions: Remember the 20/40 rule. Around 40 and beyond we tend to think of ourselves as roughly 20 years younger than we really are. It’s good to keep in mind that we’re not. Try not to impress people by doing things that you haven’t done since you were 20. This will prevent a lot of embarrassment. There is no fool like an old fool. Some of the most famous last words are: “Hey guys, watch this!” Next, that whooshing sound in your ears is probably tinnitus caused by gradual hearing loss. There’s no cure, but you can make it worse by taking aspirin. You may want to remove your bifocals when going down stairs, gangways, or mountains. Don’t try too hard to remember a name; it’s more likely to come if you don’t think about it, though by then it’s often too late. Be alert to those new bumps that appear on your body and show them to your doctor. Get used to hair growing where it never did and not growing where it always has. Remind yourself that gray hair is a mark of distinction. Try a home blood pressure monitor; it can help you keep your BP down. Worry, regret, and anger are corrosive of the spirit. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best; then don’t worry. Apologize if you’ve done someone wrong; then let it go. What others do to you is their karma; what you do to them is yours. Jealousy and envy are poison to the spirit. Don’t compare yourself to others; compare yourself to your former self.
Now, some wonders that may be beheld in those vast and varied lands past 40: One finds that love mixed with a good measure of forgiveness is the universal solvent, and remedy—miraculously smoothing over rough spots, dissolving problems, and healing wounds. You may find that you are less full of yourself, and more full of life itself. In the first part of life you discover how unlike your ancestors you are. In the second part you may discover how much you are like them; your joys and sorrows and humor are less personal and more universal; you discover that we really are all in this equally together. This can be vastly comforting, revealing a beautiful new landscape where you are free to live the rest of your life in the company of every living creature, if you so desire. The longer you live, the more you can grow.
And at the very last, naturally, there is the greatest revelation of all. As the body weakens and fails, the soul gets wiser and stronger from weathering storms and squalls, until it takes its final flight from the empty shell of the body over the farthest fields and highest mountains on strong, bright wings.
From Siddhartha Gautama:
The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.
From Ralph Waldo Emerson:
As we grow old, the beauty steals inward.
Rob McCall lives in Brooklin, Maine. His weekly Awanadjo Almanack radio show is streamed on weru.org. This essay was excerpted from Some Glad Morning: Holding Hope In Apocalyptic Times (Pushcart Press, 2020, $17.95).