Thursday, January 19, 2012

Schadenfreude, a winter dandelion, and a finish.


      When I ask my kids to read cooking directions in the fine print on food containers, they look at me as if I’m crazy, wondering if I’ve forgotten how to read. Though I realize aging is inevitable, I’ve been surprised how irritated I’ve been about losing something I’ve taken for granted all my life. I don’t know who this person is wearing granny glasses to read, even though the glasses are chic-colored fashion items. The worst thing is I have two older friends, who are tickled pink that I’ve reached this stage. I mean roll-in-the-floor-laugh kind of happy when they see me pull out the glasses to read a menu.
      It brings to mind the old German idea of Schadenfreude, which means to gloat over someone’s misfortunes. Of course, we all do it at times, but still, really? I have to put up with loss of eyesight, my youthful self-image and now this … mean-spiritedness?
      I believe aging is God’s way of refining us, humbling us in the last length of life. It is the great equalizer. I’d say I hope these friends have to get hearing aids or scooters or whatever the latest aging gadget is before I do, but then that would be too Schadenfreude.



What are you doing there?
Bizarre burst of color in January,
Brave and beautiful, weed though you are.
The sunshine must have misled you.
Your season is still far away.
You couldn't stand it, I think,
Sleeping away these April-ish days
Safe underground with other growing things.

You took your chance,
Carpe'd this diem, and now what?
I fear the cold will return soon
To put an end to your rebellious blooming.
How long is the average life of a dandelion?
You may not last that long, risk-taker.
But you are here now, drinking in the sunlight,
Basking in the warmth the others have missed.

I think I will forget my errands today.
I should be outside
Enjoying pseudo-spring while it lasts.
I can go off-book for awhile,
Take some risks
While they're mine for the taking.
Thank you for reminding me
With the audacity of a yellow flower in winter.



       “And don’t drop your medal when they give it to you in the finish chute.  You’ll be tired but hang on to it.”  concluded Maryanne, my hairstylist and running guru after a haircut and an hour’s worth of invaluable training advice.   
       What? I get a medal? 
       One of the coolest things about running a half marathon is this:  If you finish, you get a medal.  You don’t have to finish in the top ten or even the top three for your age group (although there are extra prizes if you do).  You just have to cross the finish line on your feet and there you have it.   A shiny gold, blue and green medal. 
      So thanks to all of my friends who asked about my training, put up with my dramatics, and cheered me on as I prepared for the Charleston Half Marathon.  And special thanks to Maryanne for advice on everything from arm warmers to body glide; to Julie and Jordan for cheers from the side of the road; to Lynne, my friend and encourager who navigated a maze of blocked roads to check on me at miles 4 and 8 and to cheer me on at the finish;  and, of course, to Don who put up with months of training, complaining, and obsessing, who got up before dawn to get me to the starting line, nearly froze to death on his bike at the start to get some pictures, and waited patiently at the finish while I stood in line for my post-race shrimp and grits.   
     You don’t make it to the finish line without friends.


1 comment:

  1. My favorite post so far... and not only because I was honored with a mention... ;) Dawn, I whole-heartedly agree that aging "is the great equalizer" and I relish that fact (does that count as schadenfreude?) Stacy, I love the poem, especially the line "Carpe'd this diem" - great stuff! And, Anita, I am so happy for you - you earned that medal, smiling the whole race. Thank you for the mention. I am blessed to count you three among my friends!