Turning 30 was the beginning of the end. I saw it coming like Nell Fenwick tied by Snidely Whiplash to the railroad tracks as a roaring locomotive bore down at breakneck speed. Ha! Even that reference makes me feel old.
|A walk among the old giants
So...the Fountain of Youth. The lingering myth is that Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce De Leon voyaged to the new world in search of vitality-restoring waters that could reverse the ailments of aging. This myth, like so many others, is of course false. There is no Fountain. As a matter of fact, the very idea that Ponce De Leon was searching for such waters is now widely believed to have been retrofitted to his agenda well after he was dead.
Even ole Ponce didn't buy such nonsense.
But I love myths. They capture my imagination with notions of a world more magical and lovely than the one I see. I want to believe in that world. Instead, I see a place utterly divided, where warring factions draw invisible lines around themselves based on religion, race and politics. A world where hatred spews from the omnipresent cyberspace and the dreaded doomsday war feared so acutely during the 1960's seems somehow closer than ever.
I'm seduced by the possibility of a place instead where the toil of age magically melts away. A place where one ladle of holy water banishes all aches, pains and worries. This is where I want to be.
And perhaps, in a sense, I found it....
When Legolas, Aragorn and Gimili step into Fangorn forest in The Two Towers, Legolas comments that the trees are "old, very old. And full of memory. So old that I almost feel young again...." This is precisely the feeling I've discovered here in Northern California's Redwood Forest.
|Feeling small (and young) next to a Giant Redwood
Oh I wonder, great trees, what many things you have seen?
Walking through these trees is like walking through a fantasy novel. The setting is unearthly. Redwoods have been treeherded through the world for so long, their old-growth groves feel like misplaced pockets of a different era when megaflora and fauna still flourished. When dragonflies had six-foot wingspans and brachiosaurus stretched its enormous neck for leaves eighty feet off the ground.
Sadly, my back still aches. And these crows feet around my eyes sink a little deeper every month. The forest that is my beard is a little more frosted and the memories of my youth fade into the increasingly foggy bank of my memory. But age is a perception and walking through this amazing, ancient forest, has made me feel young again.
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