A Hilltop, at Noon - A prose poem
So soon come forty years of restlessness,
of tedium, of unexpected joy,
quick as a gust of wind in March is quick
to scatter light and rain.
From On Approaching Forty, Dana Gioia
The ones at fifty, sixty, will scoff, perhaps. “You’re still young,” they will say, welling up in a strange brew of irritation and envy, of eyeroll and eye-mist. The assumption is that there is plenty of time ahead of me. This may perhaps be, and hopefully will be, because I have accomplished thus far nothing. Not that I believe the mark of a person is the sum of boxes checked, the aggregation of a list of achievements that can somehow be sorted and ranked and quantified and pointed at, saying, “This.” But surely, neither is it to pass unseen, to wisp through days and years, sliding as invisibly and inexorably as does the weighty hour-hand of the clock.
This is a juncture, one both joyful and sad. A halfway point, if I am lucky. Perhaps, given my younger ferocities, even beyond it. So to have come this far, I gratefully sing an Ebenezer. “‘Tis,” truly in my case, “grace that brought me safe thus far.” Without it, I might have lived to see this day, and yet might have wrecked and stomped everything in my wake to get here. Mercifully, I did not. Not everything. So in this, there is joy.
But neither did I heal. Neither did I awaken what slept, neither did I teach what was ignorant, neither did I love what was unloved. There may well be a scant few in my past whose life, or maybe just day, was made richer from my passing. But not many.
So let us hope the elders are right. There is still time. Let us hope this is but the peak of a hill, and the day but noon. Thus far, I have climbed, even at times been carried. But my footing easier, my path downhill, my burden less cumbersome, from this point forward may I have the strength instead to carry for others. May I descend to the valley, however quickly I enter it, as a blessing to the path; scattering seeds where I go, that some long day after me may bloom to flower, to fruit, even if I never see it.