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William Holbrook Beard: For What Was I Created? (ca. 1886)
"Imagine how fortunate we feel …"

As the sun set last night, I called down into The Muse's Zoom® Lair to ask if she'd climbed up to the second floor yet. She hadn't. I implored her to get out there before she had to try it in the dark. She responded with the warmth of someone who'd been insulted by a suggestion. You see, we'd reached that point in our Grand Refurbishment when we could no longer just use the stairs to reach the second floor, where bedroom, full bathrooms, and showers reside. I'd erected scaffolding in anticipation of this time. Our Painter Kurt kindly donated his plank to the project. I used clamps and leftover trim wood to stabilize that plank between the flat front porch roof and the scaffolding, creating a pathway of sorts between the main floor-level front porch and the little door off the front porch roof deck into the second floor. It seemed plenty precarious so I'd practiced my ingress and egress a few times before the sun set, but The Muse hadn't. Yet.

She easily clambered up, puzzled at what my concern had been about.
She felt no compulsion to adhere to standards or expectations of behavior for a woman of her standing and age. She's not above climbing a tree is necessary, even if not exactly necessary, if she just damned well feels like climbing a tree. What's the big deal? Unlike the generation before her and me, we feel less constrained by social expectations than they otherwise might have. I could not quite envision my mother when she was The Muse's age or my father when mine, limberly scampering up scaffolding and walking a narrow plank to reach their bedroom in the dark, or clambering back down early the next morning to brew a cup of coffee and write. We will be living like this for the next few days, until Joel Our Carpenter finishes fiddling with the stairway's finish.

We relish this experience. We relish every opportunity to act in ways that proper comportment might consider foolish. One day, doubtless, our foolishness might well catch up with us and our grandkids can shake their heads and declare that they'd wondered when that would finally happen. We'll smile ironically, knowing that we'd gotten away with more than they'd ever suspected before fate and time caught up with us. Until then, we insist upon living as if we could do whatever we feel capable of doing. Neither of us have retired yet, nor are we likely to ever willingly do that. We'll keep pushing the edge, poking at limits, if only to see what happens. For the next few days, we're climbing MonkeyBars to get to bed. Anyone with a complaint about that, the complaint line forms to the left.

I believe that it's my sacred responsibility to behave in ways that might disconfirm others' suspicions about me. If someone suspects me of being ancient, I simply must attempt something only an adolescent should attempt. If someone thinks me liberal, I demonstrate just how conservative I also am. I think these disconfirmations my responsibility because I believe it's everybody's full time job to see through the convincing illusions others' behaviors might encourage us to conclude. There's always something more and different waiting to get interpreted. Not one of us are simple beings capable of being adequately described by any single label. We're each filled with contradictions. None of us always act our age. The Muse and I are climbing MonkeyBars to reach our bedroom. Imagine how fortunate we feel at our age.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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