Era’s End

Many of the older men in my life have told me repeatedly, “The older you get, the harder it is to accept change.” And I know that there is a reason why men repeat such sayings.

For well over a decade, I have daily fed the crows who come to the far parking lot at my job. I have fed them crackers, bread, croutons, cookies, pork rinds, and on one memorable occasion, sushi. The crows have been there every day, in various combinations of groups, and they recognize both my car and my face. My coworkers and some of the people from other offices in the surrounding buildings have become accustomed to the old man and his birds.

Today I arrived at work and saw that it was the end of an era.

An office from across the road has relocated to the building where I park. The lot is now full of cars, and there is nowhere to feed the crows. A grassy field sits nearby, and I will try to get the crows to move their dining to that area. But I will never again have the privacy and solitude my old parking spot afforded. Not only did I feed my crows from there, but I also had a nice oak tree as shade in the summertime and privacy to take a nap during my lunch break if I so desired. Those days are over.

I cannot help but wonder if I did something at some point in my life to hasten the end of the crow days.

St. Paul, that stern, dour, letter-writing apostle, warned one of the churches under his care that whatever a man sows shall be reaped by that same man. Because this is how this portion of the bible is taught, I long believed that Paul was referring to a final judgment, when one had come to life’s end and had to account for how he had used that life.

But while believing this statement to be true, I have come to suspect that it means something different. Nature itself teaches us the same thing that Newton taught: for ever action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. If I drag a knife across my flesh, my flesh will part and bleed. If I poke a dog with a stick enough times, the dog will rise and give battle to me. If I spend more money than I earn, I will become buried in debt. And so I look back upon the trail of years behind me, and I think that I am where I am because of the decisions I have made, the turns I have taken, the options to which I have pointed. I have come to believe that the things about which I grumble are direct results of my own actions, and therefore not one detail of my life is not traceable back to the cause of that detail.

The idea comforts me. It also haunts me. What consequences yet unseen are crouching along the path, hidden in the vine-choked foliage, waiting to step out and ambush me at the next bend?

The old men were right. Change is difficult as time goes on in a man’s life. My crows and I have been rudely moved. What part did I play in the upheaval? And what new upheaval awaits tomorrow? What rocks will crack apart as a result of the invisible forces beneath them?

The older a man grows, the more his courage is tested. The older a man grows, the more his lack of courage is revealed.

~ S.K. Orr

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