Sometimes you will never know
the value of a moment
until it becomes a memory.
may all that comes into view be of value in its retro and absentminded neediness……give it a voice…..give it a coat……it’s winter……
My father, who lived to 94, often said that the 80’s had been one of the most enjoyable decades of his life. He felt, as I begin to feel, not a shrinking but an enlargement of mental life and perspective. One has had a long experience of life, not only one’s own life, but others’ too. One has seen triumphs and tragedies, booms and busts, revolutions and wars, great achievements and deep ambiguities. One has seen grand theories rise, only to be toppled by stubborn facts. One is more conscious of transience and, perhaps, of beauty. At 80, one can take a long view and have a vivid, lived sense of history not possible at an earlier age. I can imagine, feel in my bones, what a century is like, which I could not do when I was 40 or 60. I do not think of old age as an ever grimmer time that one must somehow endure and make the best of, but as a time of leisure and freedom, freed from the factitious urgencies of earlier days, free to explore whatever I wish, and to bind the thoughts and feelings of a lifetime together. I am looking forward to being 80. ~Oliver Sacks
I had a black coat. A poet gave it to me some years ago on my 57th birthday. It had been his- an ill-fitting, unlined Comme des Garcons overcoat that I had secretly coveted. On the morning of my birthday he told me he had no gift for me. I don’t need a gift, I said. But want to give you something, whatever you wish for. Then I would like your black coat, I said. And he smiled and gave it to me without hesitation or regret. Every time I put it on I felt like myself. The moths like it as well and it was riddled with small holes along the hem, but I didn’t mind. The pockets had come unstitched at the seam and I lost everything I absentmindedly slipped into their holy caves. Every morning I got up, put on my coat and watch cap, grabbed my pen and notebook, and headed across 6th Ave. to my cafe. I loved my coat and the cafe and my morning routine. It was the clearest and simplest expression of my solitary identity. But in this current run of harsh weather, I favored another coat to keep me warm and protect me from the wind. My black coat, more suitable for spring and fall, fell from my consciousness, and in this relatively short span it disappeared. My black coat gone, vanished like the precious league ring that disappeared from the finger of the faulty believer in Hermann Hesse’s The Journey to the East. I continue to search everywhere in vain, hoping it will appear like dust motes illuminated by sudden light. Then, ashamedly, within my childish mourning, I think of Bruno Schulz, trapped in the Jewish ghetto in Poland, furtively handing over the one precious thing he had left to give to mankind; the manuscript of The Messiah. The last work of Bruno Schulz drawn into the swill of WWII, beyond all grasp. Lost things. they claw through the membranes, attempting to summon our attention through an indecipherable mayday. Words tumble in helpless disorder. The dead speak. We have forgotten how to listen. Have you seen my coat? It is black and absent of detail, with frayed sleeves and a tattered hem. Have you seen my coat? It is the dead speak coat. ~Patti Smith