Ancient Eyes

He is 96 years old and he moves uneasily in halting steps at the edge of a field of wildflowers. We meet him at Big Summit Prairie during one of our pilgrimages to a place of wondrous bloom. The wildflower meadows here startle the senses with color and fragrance, some intense and some subtle. I won’t indulge my nerdy inner botanist to reveal species names, but there’s a whole lotta flowers! This old man enters our life in wildflower wonder, taking photos with an an equally aging camera.  

He has been coming here every year for a long time, but thinks this will be his last excursion. He drove by himself to make this pilgrimage and it is not so easy anymore. His eyesight and reaction time are a bit diminished but rather impressive for his age. His legs shudder a bit when he walks and he chooses to keep his wanders short and in areas where the terrain is level. But nothing lessens his delight in nature’s offering.

We offer some assistance so that he can reach some floral specimens rising from uneven ground, but he refuses as if saying, “As long as I am doing this alone, I need to feel safe moving under my own steam.” We respect his intention but still watch over him for awhile. He does indeed move under his own steam with aging grace. We later share our favorite spots in the area and most of them match up. We are kindred spirits and he seems grateful for the connection.

As Tarn and I move on to other fields, our hearts are full of joy in seeing someone with ancient eyes delighting in the same flowers we find inspiring. He is a role model for graceful aging as he continues to walk in the same fields in which his younger body may have previously danced. Nothing stopped his wildflower wanders until maybe now. He had a kind of sadness in his eyes knowing this might be the last time. Still, he has his memories and pictures.

I aspire to age in this way, to accept my limitations but do my dance with nature anyway. I sometimes imagine being in a wheel chair, if that is to be, making sure it has all-terrain wheels and accompanied by a hearty soul to push me if need be. I am not averse to such help, although I have a preference to do things under my own steam like our elderly comrade in flora. Who knows how things will go?

May all beings with ancient eyes find their way in wonder and delight no matter the challenges. May they meet the right circumstances to support them. May all other beings do likewise.


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