The Tin Man: A View from 50

Let us gaze in the mirror alongside the subject as he assesses life on the morning he crosses the half-century point. He needs a helpful, objective view. Thank you for helping.

From the top, the hair. He has a full head of hair, and the ratio of follicles that still produce dark-brown versus white interlopers remains 80-to-20 in favor of dark brown. He has a single white hair visible on his right hand, which he has nicknamed “Memento Mori.” There is white in his beard, so he shaves, but white hairs have not yet appeared on his legs.

The ratio of brown to white is such that a friend asked him several years ago which brand and color dye he uses, which shocked and pleased him at the same time because he does not dye his hair. This is because he is proud of his full head of dark hair as if it is a comment on his positive qualities as an individual rather than an accident of genetic inheritance.
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Better and Better

A friend told me about eating out with her “sarcastic” friend—we all have one—when the two of them saw a toddler, bundled up in winter layers, bounce off a closed glass door and fall because the child had not perceived the door.

The sarcastic friend said, sotto voce, “Get used to that, kid.”

Life is a clear, freshly cleaned, plate glass door that I haven’t noticed is a door, even with a shiny metal door handle at every-door-you’ve-ever-seen’s-door-handle-height on it, because I have been too busy thinking about life (or “thinking” “about” “life”) until I bonk into it. Loudly.

When are we too young to learn that? or too old to be reminded?
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A Marathon, Not a Sprint

If you look at this page via a Windows browser, there should be a logo on left side of the tab at top, a little green-brown-yellow blob.

It is a photo of a duck. I first placed the picture there, seen full-size at top, as an inside joke with myself, but the story is worth sharing. (Most of this first appeared in a post from December 2013, “A Duck About Town.”)

The photo was taken in 2013 (with friends alongside: LT and HG), and it was added at the very last second on the very first post written later that same year. If you have looked at this web site once or a thousand times (thanks, mom!), the duck has been there, on whatever device you use, each time. It is this site’s mascot, a companion to each piece I write.
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My Duck Companion

If you are reading this page on a Windows browser, there should be a logo on left side of the tab at top, a little green-brown-yellow blob. I first placed it there as an inside joke with myself, but the story is worth sharing. The full-size photo is at the top. (Most of this first appeared in a post from December 2013, “A Duck About Town.”)

It is a photo of a duck. The photo was taken in 2013, and it was added at the last second on the very first post written later that year. If you have looked at this web site once or a thousand times (thanks, mom!), the duck has been there, on whatever device you use, each time. It is this site’s mascot, a companion to each piece I write.
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A Trip to the City

Public transportation is a wonderful thing. The Tri-State area surrounding New York City, where I live, is more than adequately served by public transit. All 20,000,000-plus of us who reside here live at maximum a short drive away from a train station or a bus stop that offers regular service to and from the Big City and parts in between; thousands (perhaps millions) of us live within walking distance of a bus or a train station.

The last vehicles that leave NYC leave well after midnight, and the earliest vehicles heading to NYC from the farthest reaches outside the city leave only a couple hours after that time, so public transportation runs almost 20 of the 24 hours a day.

If you live or travel in New York City, you know the official Metropolitan Transportation Authority subway map. NYC has 490 stops or stations spread among its five boroughs, and the picturesque map shows the lines snaking through the city:
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Mountains out of Steps

My least favorite cases are staircases. My least favorite ways are stairways. My least favorite air is a stair.

The photo above (not at all) accurately depicts (for reasons of comic exaggeration) what every staircase resembles in my mind’s eye. Including the one in my home. It is life with mobility impairment. Once upon a pair of teenage legs ago, I took stairs two at a time.

In 2012 my first neurologist, Dr. M, diagnosed me with late-onset Friedreich’s ataxia, or at least he reported that he felt I have a form of spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA), a disease that has dozens of forms and is genetic in origin.
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My Shadow Knows Nothing

At once sarcastic and tender, W.H. Auden’s “The More Loving One” asks us to imagine a night sky empty of stars:

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

 
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

 
Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

 
Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.
— “The More Loving One,” W.H. Auden, 1957

I might very well like a starless sky and call it sublime or subtle in its black-on-black nuance, the poet declares, and not mourn the sight of a supernova, which is after all the explosive death of a star, and I may not notice the absence of one should it simply blink out, but in all matters, “If equal affection cannot be,/Let the more loving one be me.”

In all matters attracting my human attention, be it the night sky or my beloved’s face, let the more loving one be me.
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Take the Stairs

My least favorite cases are staircases. My least favorite ways are stairways. My least favorite air is a stair.

The photo above (not at all) accurately depicts (for reasons of comic exaggeration) what every staircase resembles in my mind’s eye. Including the one in my home. It is life with mobility impairment. Once upon a pair of teenage legs ago, I took stairs two at a time.

In 2012 my first neurologist, Dr. M, diagnosed me with late-onset Friedreich’s ataxia, or at least he reported that he felt I have a form of spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA), a disease that has dozens of forms and is genetic in origin.
Read More