On this beautiful summer day I went on a walk in Sussex. The pain of it. Bird watching has become a frustating exercise. By the time I put my walking stick down, removed my sunglasses, focused my binoculars and tried to locate the source of the bird song, the creature had long departed.
Yes vision is not what it used to be, neither is hearing but the legs are still strong and the sun is shining and walking in nature under the sun and a cool breeze is still exhilarating and I can still hear the lark rising.
I think of all the old people, like me, who spent their childhood and youth under different climes. It is impossible not to think of the blue sky and sun, the Bougainvillea at the entrance of the house and specially, the feel, the scent, the sounds of the air of my youth. It is not nostalgia. It is a physical lack. Nothing to do with people but all about the natural environment. This feeling of loss may be a general feeling of old people. It must be more acute in those of us who cannot visit again our childhood environment. I call it ‘nature imprinting’ something that cannot be shared unless one is a poet. I should really research poems of exile.
But the estrangement from the social environment is also important. In my middle years I concentrated on adapting to a new country and observed Xmas, the food, the rituals so that the children did not feel deprived. Later, we had to carry on the tradition so that the family could get together with their respective diverse partners and the grandchildren. An all-embracing emotional atmosphere leaving no space for personal feelings of exile.
Now with a great-grandchild at the family celebrations, I am reduced to being an observer. The cultural differences are multiplied by two generations and the diversity of their lives. I am aware of their lives trajectories, I am the receptacle of some secrets and my view of the future is different from theirs.