We grant the old a special courage to weather the slings and arrows of aging, but we forget their older brains are rewired for contemplation, a benefit that goes far beyond facilitating life review. This unique capacity of second half minds brings with it new reservoirs of creativity and compassion. Freya Manfred’s poem Imagine This honors older lives whose “narrowing choices” yield deeds of kindness and gratitude.
by Freya Manfred
When you’re young, and in good health,
you can imagine living in New York City,
or Nepal, or in a tree beyond the moon,
and who knows who you’ll marry: a millionaire,
a monkey, a sea captain, a clown.
But the best imaginers are the old and wounded,
who swim through ever narrowing choices,
dedicating their hearts to peace, a stray cat,
a bowl of homemade vegetable soup,
or red Mountain Ash berries in the snow.
Imagine this: only one leg and lucky to have it,
a jig-jagged jaunt with a cane along the shore,
leaning on a walker to get from grocery to car,
smoothing down the sidewalk on a magic moving chair,
teaching every child you meet the true story
of this sad, sweet, tragic, Fourth of July world.