By Larry Feinstein

Larry Feinstein doing a keg stand. Contributed photo

“A man growing old becomes a child again.” — Sophocles (496BC-406BC)

More than 2,500 years ago, Sophocles was not writing about dementia’s theft of the aging mind. I am guessing he was commenting on the arc of life. We travel along life’s road, from simple to complicated and back to simple. I think this really does reflect our unique dance with life

When we are young, there is so much to know. We are endlessly busy trying to catch up with ourselves. At some point in our maturation, we can take a breath, with time to view the landscape. When you have grown just a little and the views start to feel a bit familiar, experience can slow the rhythm enough for you to simply be a touch more introspective than before.

If I was sitting around in my toga and eating grapes, I would have asked Sophocles if he viewed all life as a circle, because that’s how it sounds to me. I also would have told him he had to figure out a way to meet The Buddha, who was doing his thing in India around then. Those two guys would definitely have hit it off.

I think our make-believe meeting would have gone something like, “So Soph (all the guys called him that), when does the circle of life begin and when does it bump into itself?” I’ll bet you his answer would’ve been something like, “The answer is always and never. The closer you get to closing your own circle, the mystery answer only grows exponentially. It is something not meant to be understood, it is meant to be experienced.” He ate all the damn grapes and I had to get more. I knew he was getting older and they’re good for a slowing system, so I let it go.

How could I have started talking right away about Sophocles when you’ve seen THE photograph? “What the heck is that all about?” For those of you who don’t know, don’t feel left out. I was pretending to do something called a keg stand. It is a post-pubescent rite of passage that requires one to heavily draw on a tube directly connected to the keg. You quickly get exceptionally drunk, the room begins to spin and it’s only a matter of time until you puke and wake up in it hours later. What a blast!

I never thought about using it as part of any story, because it is kind of dumb to begin with. Then, a day or two after this death-defying stunt, yet another rock star departed. I know I have already written about losing my musical contemporaries, those rock ’n roll legends, who were heaven sent, and now, slowly being called upon to return.

Without that picture, I could easily be telling a really depressing story about aging and dying and loss, but the keg stand screws all that up. I purposely searched for a quote that would shine a light on life’s invisible continuum. It would have been easy to grab something from The Buddha. When he arose from sitting motionless under the Bodhi Tree, all life suddenly made perfect sense to him. The need to share became the breath that sustained him, elevating many in his subsequent journeys.

Trust me, no way I am the poster child with all the answers, not even close. The past few years, I have felt myself bumping into the circle and shrinking in its presence, a timidity instigated by the passage of time. Maybe, my logic was going slower until the you know what? Not only that, I began to realize less is not more and that’s why it’s called less.

A couple of weeks before the New Year, I was beginning to feel a restlessness, energy with no home. I don’t know, I used to run miles, nearly everyday of my life, for well over 40 years. It was just part of me. An old and very serious, leg injury finally couldn’t take the pounding and I abruptly stopped. I immediately started an equally, neurotic regimen on the stationary bike. However, I think my body and entire being missed moving through the world, something I did all over the world.

Seemingly, for no reason, I bought my first pair of running shoes in over four years. Believe me, I had no intention of running again, because I simply can’t. We’re going to come back to that thought in just a second. I do know I was feeling kind of detached from myself and I missed me.

Now, stay with me, we’re making a sharp turn, but we’ll be back. I think we’ve got some magic happening. I knew I wanted to move and be out and have an activity. The planets and the entire cosmos aligned, the rod and reel emerged from this cauldron of possibility.

Upon withdrawing my Excalibur-branded fishing gear from the Rock of Ages, I embarked on my first adventure, high above the Pacific Ocean. The footing and I had issues and I fell on my ass, getting banged up in the process.

There are times when accidents are meant to happen, because there’s just no other way to get your attention. All of a sudden, I got the message. I needed to reoccupy my body and in some ways, reoccupy my life. At that instant, looking back, it seemed like I was waiting and not living.

Please understand, I didn’t have a Moses-Coming-Down-the-Mountain moment. I decided to pretend I was just alive, not too young and not too old. Honestly, there are so many reasons why I feel this way now, but you’d have to be here to understand.

Several days a week, I am doing a pretty decent walk, from home to work and back again. Those running shoes were quietly sitting there, waiting for a personal invitation. I am feeling that leg all over again and now I want to strengthen it, not give into it. As soon as my body starts working hard, all of me remembers. I miss it and want it back. I’ll let you know.

There isn’t time to tell you what’s happened with my deeply, deeply, personal idea about fishing. After several outings, I still suck terribly and I could care less. Last time, I managed to hook a guy’s bike that was innocently resting behind me. In spite of myself, it has attracted some folks, taking on a life of its own. There seems to be an energy about this fishing business. We’ll see.

Well, it’s hard to imagine Sophocles doing a keg stand. It’s also hard for me to imagine being all the way back there and not thinking just like him. Heck, I’m doing it today.


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