Lately, the later feeling has taken over for me. I feel dumb, slow and uncreative.
My bloom of athletic youth has limped into achey oblivion. This ex-athlete is dying, not like Housman's, young, but old. Old and creaky and unsure.
Yesterday I had the simplest thing in the world to write--an internal memo of all things. And it took me all day to write it. The kind of thing I usually knock off in ten minutes or so with my left hand while filling in the crossword with my right.
Even this space, which I write with such regularity and dedication is hard to come to this morning. That's right, I feel devoid of ideas.
Feeling like this leads me to stare into the abyss. What if this is it? What if some rare parasite that entered my body 42 years ago, unknowingly when I was playing ball and drinking dirty water in the Mexican League, has burrowed its way into my amygdala and is eating away at the very fibers of what's left of my cortex? What if my remaining too many days on this too hot and too sad and too backward planet will be spent on the benches of Upper West Side Broadway, leaning awkwardly to one side and nursing a 75-cent cup of coffee from the one-armed guy from the deli down 89th Street and making a day-old kaiser roll last through lunch while the pigeons peck at the crumbs which fall at my feet. In other words, what if this is it for me, and I've lost it to sullen ill-temper once and for all?
On the other hand, maybe it's just a temporary bout of malaise from going too hard for too long and not having had a day off since January 6th, save for one day in March when I went home sick at two-pm.
Nevertheless, any one who has had power in their lives, the power to create, the power to have an idea, the power to persuade others, wonders, and perhaps wonders every time, what if this time, it's done and I can do no more?
There's a heavy mist outside and the fog is shrouding some of the skyscrapers I can see in midtown from my work-station. It's still before nine and no one else is in. I have a meeting in ten minutes where, to be honest, I'm sure I won't understand a word of what's going on.
I'm typing this, fearful of reading it back and realizing it's trash. But when I started this blog coming on ten years ago, I resolved to write every day.
If for no other reason than I can.
But, who knows, maybe I can't.
To an Athlete Dying Young
The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.
Today, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.
Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay,
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.
Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears.
Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.
So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.
And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl’s.