Amidst the bizarreness of the current world, I went off as happy as you like to replace my ten year driving licence which had finally expired. It’s a funny experience, the Driving Licence Centre, like a cross between going to the doctor and being in custody . You sit in a small booth with a curtain between yourself and the rest of the general public while the young woman behind the glass checks all your details; identity, address, health and age.
I am having a new photograph taken, it’s a simple process where your chair swings to the left and a camera machine offers you three options. While I am engrossed in this process, she suddenly announces “I can’t give you a ten year licence because in just eight years you will be 70 and you will have to submit to our medical exam for older people.”
It was a like a stake through the heart! Not because I am unaware of this fact, not because I dread getting older, it was just that I have never heard 70 and myself together in the same sentence before! I joked about it with the woman behind the glass, but yes I felt it. That’s 70 in eight years, I repeated to myself on my way out. That’s 80 in 18 years. That’s 90 in 28 years. How long have I got Ms. Driving Licence Doctor? How long as anyone got I hear a voice in my head reply…..
2016 has been a big one for losing people of my generation. This week it was our own local radio hero Billy Mc Carthy. He was my age exactly. Now when I see the beauty of autumn I think, that’s me, that’s us. There’s an eery beauty in the whole mystery of it. And that’s maybe why this poem came to mind, and why I am often longing “to rest in the grace of the world.”
The peace of wild things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
© Wendell Berry.