I saw an old man today
I was sitting at a table in my favorite coffee shop, not because I’m cool enough to be a hipster, but because the coffee is good.
Anyway, as I sat there checking email on my phone, a not-so-young dude surrounded by baristas and hipster cool kids coming in to get their caffeine fix, from a table at the back came the sound of a metal chair sliding across the old wood floorboards. It caught my attention, as loud, grating noises are wont to do. I looked up (for the first time) from my phone and saw him.
The old man.
Dressed in faded navy trousers too big for his frame, a light-blue dress shirt under a navy-blue sweater vest, he shuffled his feet across the wood floor, an old soul rubbing his old soles against the even older floor boards.
I saw him. He didn’t see me. He was focused on navigating the labyrinth of tables and chairs, of coolness and coffee cups crowded into the little shop.
But I saw him.
And in that moment I realized he was once me. I will be him. The hipsters won’t be hip any more, having been supplanted by the next generation’s coolness quotient.
They’ll be old, too.
I saw Glory in that shop. I saw a life lived, cradle to…not quite yet. I saw heartache and pain, joy and gladness. I saw success and failure. I saw gain and loss. I saw love and laughter, tears and loneliness. I saw all the things that make a life, all wrapped up in a sweater vest, shuffling across those worn floorboards.
Another thought hit me: none of us think this will happen to us.
None of us see ourselves in those shoes, shuffling our tired feet across those floors. We see a frail old man, while we have the “strength” of youth. Today, in those ill-fitting dress slacks I saw what were once strong legs, able to run and power up hills and mountains now reduced to shuffling across the flat floor so as to maintain balance.
That will be me. And you.
Or maybe it won’t. Maybe we won’t make it that long. Maybe our legs will cease to work in their prime? None of us knows.
Not one of us knows.
And yet we live and move and have our being as if we are certain it WON’T be us. We don’t see that coming at all. We think it will always be “this way.” We will maintain the appearance of power, the appearance of control. We will beat out aging by not eating McDonald’s and by working out more often, harder, longer. Though every generation before us failed in their attempt at the fountain of youth, our superior science and Botox and lifts and tucks and creams and potions and diets and Keto and exercises and oils and non-gmo’s WILL succeed.
They have to.
I mean, we can’t get old like that, can we? We’re all too strong, too good looking, too fit, too virile.
I saw him, that old man. I saw him in a way I haven’t before. Not just in the coffee shop amongst the hipsters.
I saw him in the rear view mirror of my truck.