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I turned 60 recently. That's at least a couple of hundred in hippie years, though I don't know if anyone has ever worked out the conversion formula to any degree of precision. I should've asked Ben Masel. He would've known. But I missed my chance.

Every human age (as in individual chronology) has its conundrums and epiphanies I guess. Each year brings with it new challenges and new powers, or loss thereof. We constantly learn new things as we go, we non-conservatives at least. And the experience of getting old seems so different than anyone could have imagined. It's just a strange thing coming to grips with becoming old.  

It's funny how it sneaks up on you.

One thing you come to realize more and more as time goes by is how our experience of time itself is altered by the passage of time, how everything seems to go by so much faster as we age. Another birthday? Already? Relativity and mortality. However long our lives may sometimes seem, they are brief. Generations come and go.

To seize time by its particulars
Making an eternity of a fleeting moment
To cast in amber our existence
So that we might ponder the fine details
At our leisure

Anon

At the end of a long life, I have it on good authority, it seems in retrospect little more than a brief moment in the sun. Some people hate that. But this is how it is with we humans. We come in. We go out. The interesting part, AFAIK, is what happens in between...and there's only so much of that.

You've lost a lot of friends by the time you're my age. They just keep dropping off as time goes by. In what seems like no time at all we've lost Exmearden, Ben Masel, Grannydoc, jimreyn and any number of others here in this community. I still miss exme and I miss Ben something awful. I often think about him. What a noble character he was. Here's a Photoshop painting I did of him based on a photo I took in Austin at NN08.

Ben-Masel-painting-600px

I lost another old friend recently, John Cashin, the well-known civil rights leader from my hometown of Huntsville, Alabama who once ran against George Wallace for the governorship of Alabama and the guy who introduced me to Hunter S. Thompson.  He'll long be remembered for his civil rights work and all-round liberal activism, but what I'll never forget is how much fun he was to be around – at least twice as fun as the law allows. His good nature and bright spirit were radiant. Like Ben, he seemed to have more good will than should be possible in a single human being...more than enough for everyone.

It's hard to see these old guys go, and yet what could be more natural?

Of my many living contemporaries, there are many I admire and revere, all the more so because of the fleeting nature of our lives. I miss them before I have to for I know that some day I will have to miss them...or they me. Ah, but that is the sweet and sour of it all, the yin and the yang, the sublime duality, the paradox that is our universe and our existence.

It's strange how powerfully people can affect you, for better or worse. The effect another has on you can change you, transform you, lift you to a higher level of existence even. A good friend can sometimes do that with a word or a gesture, or just by their presence. And when they go it can tear a hole.

“I hear the voices of friends vanished and gone.”

Springsteen, Streets of Philadelphia

My advice is cherish your friends and loved ones while you've still got 'em. We're all just passing through here folks. We're all just passing through.

daniel,-me,-claude-and-ben-550px-Peace-Out

Originally posted to One Pissed Off Liberal on Thu May 17, 2012 at 05:26 PM PDT.

Also republished by Protest Music and DKOMA.

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