The Aging Hippie: Crepuscular

Sleepless nights and too much rumination. Menopause is long past, so I don’t have that to blame. By this point in the fall, the longer nights should have me in a mood for sleeping. But no, I lie here deep into the night, weighed down by endless what ifs, plagued by perceived slights and lost opportunities, and wondering how I’ll ever manage to do it all. Where is the off switch to my brain?

I struggle with the tyranny of expectations. At times, I rue a lifetime spent in journalism. In spite of being what my friends and peers consider a success, writing is rarely the road to riches. This leads to a pinch one feels most keenly in my silver years. Plus it all seems so ephemeral. Data comes in, copy goes out, and repeat. I keep a little icon of a dead fish wrapped in a newspaper on my desk to remind me. It used to be I kept a clip file of my work. Now it’s mostly a set of bookmarks. The transience is crushing.

Thrashing in my quasi sleep, I wonder what my legacy will be, or even if there will be a legacy. Is a legacy measured by fame or the impact you’ve had? What is a legacy anyway? I find myself contemplating of the infinite span of space/time and feel idiotic for thinking legacies are possible at all. Oh great, now I’ve layered a wad of existential angst on top. I’ll never get to sleep.

Santuario-de-ChimayoCrepuscular, a creature of twilight, is what I am, caught between awake and sleep, between middle aged and elderly, like many of my fellow aging hippies. At retirement age, but not ready to retire. Mine is the extended twilight that occurs around fall equinox, unable to let the summer go. But before the golden autumn unfurls, this crepuscular creature must find its harvest. If only the word did not sound so decrepit.

Twilight reduces matter to its essence. The shadows that herald it stretch out from the west long before the Sun sets, casting us in the dusk though the sky is blue. At sunset, objects and animals are reduced to silhouettes, the mere frame of a physical body. Color drains from the environment as the rising night overtakes the setting day, only the essential transmits.

I recall the perpetual dusk of the antechamber at Santuario de Chimayo. Built to shelter El Posito, the hole where sacred dirt is scooped up, sunlight barely pierced the thick adobe walls through tiny high windows. The memory lingers of long shadows at Ohio’s Serpent Mound near closing time, as I leaned out over the creek edge and strained to get a glimpse of the sacred cave rumored to be beneath. In this betwixt time, the pilgrimage trail beckons me again.


Senior Voice, November-December 2016

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