“Past certain ages or certain wisdoms it is very difficult to look with wonder; it is best done when one is a child; after that, and if you are lucky, you will find a bridge of childhood and walk across it.”
- Trumann Capote
Zadie on the granite slab, by my side drawing. The relief of speckled shade and the resplendent blue of the alpine lake below. The splash of three neighboring campers plunging into the waters, after having lain on the rocks talking. About what? Two young women and one man and this creaking old-bodied man finds himself wistful for bygone days and a bit envious of their young bodies, their unlived lives spooling out in quiet talk sunning on rock above a mountain lake. I often say I wouldn’t trade “I have done it” for “I hope to do it,” but now it feels like that shimmering quality of dream, of what yet might be, outshines the grey list of accomplishment, of what has been.
The big challenge of aging is the loss of dream, the look into the future that once dreamed of sparkling romance and forming of family and travel to exotic places and magnificent work applauded by world, now filled with images of catheters and wheelchairs and sterile too-brightly lit hospitals or old-age homes minus the laughter of children.
Being here with my granddaughter on her first back-packing trip and hearing her own 9-year old emerging dreams helps. It’s a way to hold her hand across the bridge of her own future flowering, but also a reminder to be grandparent to my own innocence and re-cross the bridge to my own forever childhood dreams. Those luminous moments when the world announced itself to me as a place of great promise and heartbreaking beauty, when it whispered in my ear the hints as to what my place in it might be.
Dreaming is a faculty of wonder gifted to youth, but as Capote suggests, one that is difficult to sustain in age. But with a little bit of luck and several doses of effort and attention, it need not abandon us. As the month turns to July, the last 4 weeks of my 69 years chasing wonder, I renew all vows.