Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

"Rage, rage against the dying of the light!"

A sign of the times.
On Saturday I was co-celebrant with the father of the bride at a wedding. The father of the bride is a good friend of mine, so I was happy to do it. So I found myself waiting outside under a rustic pergola waiting with the Groom and his groomsmen. The bride and her party came into the grassy area and processed up to the sound of a singer giving a good rendition of "Alleluia". The Bridesmaids arrived first, and the main bridesmaid leaned over to me and whispered, "You have to make an announcement that nobody is to post on social media." "Oh" I said, "I could do that at the end of the ceremony, that will be fine." Her eyes widened, "No... You have to do it now! They do it during the ceremony." "Really?" I said. "Yes" she replied, obviously frustrated at this old fool's lack of understanding of the situation. "I'll do it if you don't want to!" she said in an urgent whisper.  "No, I'll do it now." I responded wondering what the "congregation" would have been thinking about this rushed conference as the bride and her father walked toward me. So I did. I asked the people not to post photos onto social media, then we began the ceremony proper. I had heard, ironically via social media, of the problem before, but had not encountered it in any wedding I had conducted. It was a new experience for this old parson.
Nostalgic fun.
The wedding was held at a spacious scout camping ground where there were various grassy areas. After the ceremony the guests were invited for drinks and games in yet another grassy area. I had a couple of drinks and talked with various guests. At one stage I saw that the little boys were playing cricket, and that the adults who had started with them had stopped. I saw this one boy bowling to his cousin who was batting. There was just one fielder chasing the ball and returning it to the bowler. I knew that that would be frustrating for all involved because the batsman could send the ball in all directions. So I joined in as a fielder. Others came and went, but I spent quite a lot of the time between the ceremony and the wedding meal fielding the ball with these kids. I enjoyed it. I remembered childhood family picnics and the hours of backyard cricket I played as a kid with my brothers, friends and cousins. I recalled games of cricket I played with my boys, wearing a patch on the front lawn and wrecking the hedge chasing the ball. It was simply good to be a kid again playing cricket with kids, helping them enjoy their time together. I heard a psychologist talking on TV and she said something like, "... the two year old in us wants to..." She implied that part of us remains a child. I enjoyed being a kid again playing backyard cricket.
But I'm too old to ...
A man at my St John Chaplaincy has challenged me to join him on the starting line of the Moro half marathon in September. I have done many of them before, but not since 2007. The last race I ran in was a 5k Business House Fun run in 2010. In September I will be 68. I have begun my training, walking regularly, before taking some short runs, and mixing my exercise between running, walking and cycling. I discovered my running shoes were starting to disintegrate, with bits of rubber hitting the ground before others. So I went to buy new running shoes. I went into the sports shoe store and was looking at the running shoes when a grinning young shop assistant asked if he could help. "Yes," I replied, "I want to buy a new pair of running shoes. My ones are falling to pieces." He looked at me as I was twisting a shoe in my hand. He looked me up and down. He was sizing up my age and stage.  "You'll want walking shoes won't you? We have a good selection over here." gesturing away from the running shoe section to another corner of the store. He had aged and graded me and thought I was too old, too fat or too whatever else, to be running. "No" I said, speaking slowly, clearly enunciating the words, "I am going to try to do a half marathon in September. I want running shoes!" "Oh"he replied, and then became quite helpful. To his credit he resisted the temptation to roll his eyes. I maybe too old to run, but I am going to give it a try. It was interesting how he summed me up and assumed my lack of ability. For the record, I jogged ten kilometres on Sunday afternoon, and it felt OK.
But I am guessing at words...
My wife has suggested for some time that I am growing deaf. I think there is a bit of selective hearing there, but she is right. We were watching a David Attenbourgh nature show on TV and he was waxing on about this little bird who made a beautiful sound. The film showed these little birds opening their beaks and making the sound, a sound I could not hear. I checked with my wife. "Did you hear the sound they were making?" "Yes" she said triumphantly, "Can't you hear that? See I told you so!" She made an appointment with the appropriate audiologist. The audiologist lady, who looked to me like a teenager, was asking me questions about why I thought I needed her services. I told her, "In my life I have often encountered grumpy old men who have complained that everybody is mumbling, and that the younger generation does not speak clearly. I have deduced that it was their hearing that was going." "Yeees." the teenager said, obviously wondering where this was going. "Well," I said, "I have become one of those grumpy old men! I need a hearing test." Sure enough when the tests were done and dusted, she advised me that I needed two hearing aids. We are looking into it. 

In summary... This old parson encountered a problem of modern social media; enjoyed being a child again; was insulted when a young salesman assumed he was to old to run; and faces the evidence that the problems of old age are indeed happening.

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