When I went to college in LA back in 1967, I used to drop acid (LSD) almost every weekend. My friends and I would have either small gatherings and sometimes larger ones, in which most or all of the group tripped together, listening to record albums on a stereo phonograph, engaged in intense conversation or wordless connections. At almost of of these gatherings, one album that was sure to be among those that would be cued up was the Beatles ultras mash hit, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band.
Even without chemical psychedelic enhancement, that album takes you on a trip. The fist song on side-two of the album, Within You and Without you reflects on life from transcendent vantage point of eastern spiritual thought. Then you emerge from a point this high vantage point to the now familiar words:
When I get older losing my hair
many years from now
will you still be sending me a valentine
birthday greeting, bottle of wine
If I’d been out till quarter to three
would you lock the door
Will you still need me
Will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four
One of the most notable aspects of that album way that the Beatles styles common to traditional English songs styles and structures with the cutting edge psychedelic sounds that set trends in popular music Like other songs on the album,
When I’m 64 was guaranteed to raise a smile. I would share smiles with my college hippie friends, part of a youth culture that trusted no-one over thirty, let along some 64 year old bald guy, But we young, the wind was at our backs, the time when we would be 64 felt so far in the future that it never would arrive. But a small voice inside me whispered, if you live long enough, you’ll be singing that song.
Today, February 26th is my birthday, and today is that that unimagined day of my youth. Yes, I am 64 and having spent the last 30 years losing my hair, its mostly gone now. Along with my hair, a lot of the things that people call core values and beliefs are also gone, replaced by new and more carefully nuanced notions.
I’m in Palm Springs celebrating my birthday, a day I’ve been planning for a couple of months. I’m typing a post I thought about posting a few weeks ago. My sixty-forth birthday is a day I thought about, or at least the notion crossed my mind, over three decades ago.
One of the aspects of life I noticed, and have increasingly become aware of, is that every item on your schedule, every planned event, no matter how far off, finiteness of life, the coming and passing of all life events, at first occasionally noticed and silently acknowledged, later becomes a rapidly accelerating, omnipresent reality.
The Danish 19th Century Philosopher , Soren Kierkegaard wrote:
It is quite true what philosophy says; that life must be understood backwards. But then one forgets the other principle: that it must be lived forwards. Which principle, the more one thinks it through, ends exactly with the thought that temporal life can never properly be understood precisely because I can at no instant find complete rest in which to adopt a position: backward.
We think or our life as stream of time, always flowing forward. However, the notion of the flow of time is completely absent in modern physics. Aging and death, the nature and passage of time remain life’s ultimate mystery.