Saturday, December 28, 2013

An Octogenarian Poet.

"...why are we older than people we used to think were old?" -- Ralph Lane, Jr.

Childhood friends.
This morning, as I lay in bed recovering from a bad cold, I remembered the wonderful poetry of the late Ralph Lane, Jr., a retired professor who began publishing prose and poetry in his eighth decade.  As a former community college student, I was fortunate to have been given the opportunity to design one of Mr. Lane's poetry chapbooks, Peripeteia. This experience remains as one of my most favorite projects. Despite battling health problems, Mr. Lane had goals and ideas for future poetry books. At our very last meeting, he had asked whether I would be interested in working with him again. I was honored and said yes, but sadly, he passed away before we could collaborate once more.

In his poems, Mr. Lane beautifully describes the experiences of living as an older person in the world - both the challenges and the joys. As someone who is not as old (yet), reading his words helps me to respect the experiential nature of aging. Here is one of Mr. Lane's poems from his chapbook:

What's Your Choice? 
In tandem with Charlie Brown's Grandpa trying
to solve one of life's great mysteries, why are we
older than people we used to think were old?
Simple answers surface readily, exercise and diet
leaving unexamined a more profound puzzle.

Why have we been granted this dozen years or more 
beyond the biblical allotment, beyond our fathers' earlier demise?
What have we done, what are we doing with that time
have we sown in rich soil revealing so much,
have we multiplied the talents given us gratuitously?

Have we squandered the time,
frittered it away, 
because we see
no end in sight, and
to whom or what are we accountable,
to chance, to intelligent design,
to whom/whatever we believe moves it all?

His words give food for thought, and continue to inspire me. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Best wishes for a healthy, happy 2014!