The Serpent’s Tale
We shed our years like serpent skins
When young, we wriggle out of them.
Awkwardly and with impatience,
Nothing can stop us,
As we hurry to reach our freedoms
Later, they run off new skin like rain water,
barely noticed in our sunshine.
We dance in their spray,
A glowing, misty indifference to time
When Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo emerged,
From her cave in the Himalayas,
After twelve years in isolation she said,
Desire is like salty water, the more you drink,
the thirstier you become.
Seneca the Younger taught us how to be happy,
It’s not that we don’t have enough time, he said.
It is that we simply waste too much of it,
We become anxious about our future,
Have regrets about our past.
When we should be sucking all the marrow
Out of the present, living in the now,
Filling in time until we are bursting from our skins
And opening our hearts and our arms
Much older now, the skins fall away,
Like cracked paint in the sun.
Parched and peeling,
A little pang as each flake slides off us,
and twirls away into the ether.
Those pangs, these flakes, they have names,
They are the friends,
Personalities, identities, relatives, spouses.
People lost from our daily lives,
Greater in number with each passing cycle.
Cutting closer, ever closer to the bone,
Until they snatch us up,
And take us with them.
Or, we slowly become reconciled,
And are finally ready to join them.
I agree with the O Briain refrain,
Nostalgia is like heroin to the elderly,
Until it swallows us whole.
Go in peace, cherish your friendships,
Leave all the love you can