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Don't Let the Old Man In

Older man with cane coming down a hill. Mountain vista in background. Bench for overlook.

(Title credited to Clint Eastwood. Song written by Toby Keith after he asked Eastwood how he kept himself so active? His answer: "I never let the old man in.") Toby Keith thought that made for a pretty good story.

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When you see this picture what do you think?

What is your visceral feeling?


I love it for all its darkness.

Maybe it resonates because I am getting older. I can relate to this man. It is not quite yet, but I know it is coming.

Maybe he's just a parking lot away from his car but I don't want to believe that. My hope is that he's gone some distance. That his younger eyes have kept him to the trail.

And I suspect that the view was entirely worth it!

Some of us will retire from life. This person has not. The cane speaks to his infirmity. His gait is slower than most. His back is somewhat bent.

But his resolve is majestic. His business is that of life. The years are persuasive but he sometimes ignores them.


His travels are still for the open spaces, the lingering sky, the vistas and the solitude of spirit places.

Nature reminds us of all these things: beauty, great stretches of space, our connection to the soil and the longevity of mountains. We have witnessed the tumbling of the seasons. And how even great trees must make way or leave saplings

dormant in their shadow.

Nature is as close as the reoccurant heartbeat. Nature is the genesis of memories that keep us young and yes, even vigorous.

So much of our "professional lives" is forgotten through the skein of years. They are badges to success. They can drift and become shadows to other achievements.

In a more intimate sense, we are connected to those we take the time to love. They might sometimes be gone but we occasionally might share the same bench with them in memory.

But life calls to us also. There are yet visions to see. Places we should not regret avoiding because we tell ourselves of our limits.

We walk more slowly. But we hike up the hill. And we are rewarded with unspeakable Oneness for that day. Tranquility with the moment. Serenity in the delicate dance between earth and sky.

Can there be any better reward? Is this not a mark of courage? Is it not a choice?

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