Turn the Page
Sometimes turning the page is a joyful experience that anticipates what is to come next, and sometimes the same expression is filled with a wistful acceptance and sadness. If you are reading, you can turn the page and then quite literally turn it back. As a metaphor it is more of a one way street. When you say that you have turned the page it means that you are not going back. You have moved on. But from what did you move on? What did you move towards? Why did you leave?
Age affects attitude when these things are involved. Experience presents the inevitability of page turning. But the passion of a younger age is not always an asset. Some people believe that a new life will save them from death. Ironically, they kill off an old life to achieve this goal. Does turning the page imply that a person is not coming back? Or perhaps does not want to come back, or is incapable of coming back?
Sometimes a page is turned for you. Someone or something else affects your course. Sometimes they do it with your permission. Did you know what you were getting into at those times in your life? I think that I did not, although I was their author on many occasions. But I was not always the page turner and I did not always want to have the page turned.
Maybe life requires a turning of pages. Maybe the inevitability of their need to turn is less important than who actually does it. I have learned that time does not automatically do it. I’ve learned that sometimes I find it very difficult to turn a page. I’m not sure that I understand the reasons for these things.
I have friends that tell me that it is about my self-importance. I have friends that tell me that it is about love. I seem to believe that it is about discovery. What is discovery when it takes place in the past? The ways that sort of discovery occurs do not seem to have a particularly positive affect on the present and yet I know that they have value. But what is it? Does a person finally sift through the detritus of the past and find a sense of resolution? Even if it is an elusive resolution?
Bob Seeger has a song entitled “Turn the Page.” Here is a verse:
Here I am on the road again
Here I am up on the stage
There I go, playing star again
There I go, turn the page.
That is an example of the wistful sadness of which I speak. Because of his youth, at the time, there is a hint of anger. We want to be the page turners when we are young. We do not wish to have the page turned on us.
Grief is an impediment to turning the page. It causes a person to wish to linger in a past that can no longer be. It has a finality that it takes the cooperation of time to accept. Grief whispers that turning the page is somehow a betrayal. Bob Seeger sings that it is as inevitable. Both are true. Turning the page can be a hard lesson. It can also be a relief.
Love, like grief, can stall a turning of pages. There is that fine line between devotion and obsession, at least in perception. At first I typed that it was a fine lie between devotion and obsession. Maybe there is some wisdom in typos. Love wants to stay until it wishes to go. Maybe it never wishes to go but no longer finds the circumstances an environment where it can thrive. That would mean that love is about survival, and I’m not sure that is true. Devotion allows for page turning but obsession does not.
Age may be the most persistent page turner of all. Not only does it wish to see what happens next, it has the power to demand it. Age constantly turns the page. Reminiscence revisits turned pages and tries to see the potential of creating new ones. This rarely is successful. Moreover, it is like a warm bath. We enjoy and then know that we must leave the bath at some point. At some point we mostly want to leave the bath.
I have been guilty of obsession. I have showed devotion. I have learned the difference and at its essence is an ability to turn the page.
Melissa Etheridge sings,
“It’s not bad this brand new life.
It’s clean and it’s sharp like a brand new knife.
I just pull up the covers and turn out the lights
Close my eyes and quietly wish you goodnight”
Except that she will do it again tomorrow night, alone in her bed. What happens when you try to turn a page and fail? Persistence is essential, although it may also be necessary that to turn a page requires an adjustment of attitude.
My dad was an accomplished page turner. I recall my mom, his ex-wife and lifelong friend, locating two people from their past. She was excited to see them and wanted to know how he felt. My dad asked why he would want to do that. He explained that he had no desire to revisit those times and so no future possible for the people involved.
My mom said, “But we were close to them Eddie.”
My dad responded, “We aren’t now.”
I don’t turn the page of a book with sadness, but perhaps turning a page in life makes it sometimes a necessity. Graduations can be a happy page turning. The word implies a promising future. There are fewer of those page turners in life as I grow older. They were cooperative page turners. Most everyone wanted the page turned. There are fewer graduations as we grow older.
Retirement was my most recent graduation. The jury is out on whether or not that has been good for me. But it has not really been a trial. It is a trial only if freedom is a trial.
I turn the page and expect something new. My fervent hope is that it will bring me closer to understanding the nature of my experience and existence. My wild dream is that it will provide a pathway to some eternity. If such a thing exists, I wish it to be continued sentient exploration.
Rereading this, it is hard not to laugh at myself. What do I know of eternity? Expression of forever have an aspect of the ironic that is often beyond our ken. We only glimpse them by revisiting a turned page.
Jackson Browne wrote and sang,
“Pages turning, pages we were years from learning.
Straight into the night our hearts were flung.
You gotta bring your own redemption when you come…”
I’m not sure that I understand his last line. But the concept of discovering my redemption intrigues me.
You may ask, and I have no answer, “From what did you need to be redeemed?” It could be so many things and the longer that I live, the longer that list seems to grow. No, I am not suicidal. Maybe if I had a sense of eternity, I also would wish to turn the page. But I doubt it.
Life is still a fine wine for me, but I am increasingly aware that I will finish the bottle.