In the mornings when I head out for my walk with Magic and Molly, we often stop to chat with my next door neighbor. He’s usually out in front of his house, watering some plants, waiting for his daughter in law to drop one-year old Jackson off for Papa to babysit while she’s at work. This morning he was waiting for a repairman to come and service his automatic garage door, which seemed to have come off its rails.
“I was out here until 1:00 in the morning trying to fix it,” he told me. “I finally had to give up. Aggravates me when I can’t fix a thing myself. It was just too darn hot and I couldn’t stand on that ladder any more.” He sighed. “My daughter needs me to fix her car, too,” he lamented. “Needs a new motor, ’n I don’t think I can lay underneath a car long enough to put that in. My back just won’t take that kind of thing any more."
He was silent for a moment, and then looked at me. “It’s not that I don’t want to do it,” he said, “but when you get older there’s a big difference between wantin’ to do something, and being able to do something."
“You’re right about that,” I said, thinking about how tired my own back was from sitting at the piano bench for four hours the night before in the (non) air-conditioned church where I’m rehearsing for Joseph (and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat). I love the music in this show, and it’s easy to play ~ I wanted to play for this production. After all, I had a great time when I played for the show once before in this very same church.
But that was 15 years ago.
I was 40 years old.
And no matter what I’d like to believe about 60 being the new 40 - well, let’s just say my back and slightly arthritic fingers aren’t going along with that program.
It’s not that I can’t do it.
But there’s no doubt that it’s harder than it was the first time around, back in 1996. When I think about rehearsing from 6-10 p.m. for the next five nights and then doing three performances of the show next weekend, I take a deep breath (and a big swallow of Chardonnay).
I suppose we all want to believe we’re capable of doing the kinds of things we’ve always done, no matter what our age. And when I think about my seventy year old friend who is producing this show, I feel ridiculous for having any qualms about my own fortitude.
But I think there is some wisdom in my neighbor’s simple comment. We need to temper our desires with a dose of reality and common sense.
That’s actually pretty good advice no matter what your age.
Meanwhile, I’ll just keep the lyrics from one of my favorite “Joseph” songs running through my head..
“We all dream a lot, some are lucky, some are not. But if you dream it, want it, feel it, it is real. You are what you feel."
For the next week, I’ll dream that I’m 40 again.
Wish me luck.