I’ve Time On My Side
By Al Albers
It was an unexpected voice message two weeks ago that made me take stock of things. Well, not things. Specifically, one thing: life. A local friend, who also happens to be a part-time professional magician and ventriloquist, had suffered a mini stroke. “He’s temporarily sidelined, Al; give him a call as I’m sure he’d appreciate hearing from you,” the man's voice said.
Ironically, the week before, the magic community was mourning the loss of a truly incomparable full-time professional magic lecturer/inventor/performer.
“Two in two weeks; wow,” I mumbled.
Whenever there is a death, be it a family member, a friend, a television or movie star, it’s not uncommon to think of that ancient superstition that bad things come in threes. There are many who hold strong to that belief and wonder, “Who will the next person be?” Alan Dundes, a professor of anthropology and folklore at the University of Southern California at Berkley, explained that “all cultures have ritual numbers, but they don’t have the same ritual numbers.” He goes on to say that, “Americans have a propensity to see things in threes. For Native Americans, it’s four, and for the Chinese, it’s five.”
Both magicians were in their early 60s; not old by any stretch of the imagination. Which brings up a personal grouse: since when does getting older turn into such a horrible thing? There is value in aging; specifically, wisdom and tolerance.
When I’m asked my age I typically say, “Does it matter? Age is nothing more than a universal human experience.” And the typical reaction I receive is a blank stare; not to mention that look of: really? I quickly follow up with raised eyebrows, a smile, and a shrug/open palms expression. My interrogator’s exasperation quickly turns to a smile. When it does, I say, “If you really need to know my age—for the record—I’m….”
Even though the calendar’s number changes every January, it doesn’t mean we have to start thinking of ourselves as getting “older.” People who think this way will, as a rule, act that way. I doubt that these two magicians bought into the belief that a calendar number was indicative of how they were supposed to feel, or act. John Barrymore, an American actor of stage and screen, is quoted as saying, “A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.”
My philosophy is simple: I have decided not to be old. Time is the most precious commodity I have. It’s the one thing that I can’t buy, or buy back. I have a lot of unfulfilled dreams; a continually growing bucket list of things to see, to do, new friends to make, and old friends to keep in contact with. For me, old age is at least 15 years beyond my current age in whatever year the calendar shows.
I’ve time on my side; and at “my age” time is a gift I’m not ready to give up, or give away.