One Time

Bette Davis said it ain't for sissies. And
the common wisdom is that it's better than
the alternative. Robert Stone said the
time comes when a body's face shows where it's been.
Dale Carnegie said, don't grow old, grow up.
One time.
While my knee creaks, my ankle's shot, my back
groans and my shoulder aches; I'm wearing so many scars
I wouldn't make much of a hide.
One time.
I guess the common wisdom must be right, right?
That's why we call it common – right?
Why it's still around, why we still say it; why we call it
wisdom –
and the cosmic joke, of course, that if it was twice,
thrice, if we had a whole quintuplet of
times, we wouldn't get it any more right even with practice.
One time.
While my face weathers, my hair's grayed and
everything breaks easier and heals harder. Habits
begin to set; elasticity ebbs, arteries harden
and you leave more behind than you ever knew you had.
The joys of life touch you in a smaller, sweeter way,
the pains hurt older and longer when you are still
even able to feel them. A girl smiling
at you over her shoulder,
and you're a step slower getting out of the blocks to
go after her, and even sometimes struggle to
remember that you want to.
While your knee creaks, your ankle screams, and your
hardening arteries fight
to keep up with the chase after memories you're not sure you have anymore,
and need to remember and want to forget and know you can't afford to.
The wisdom in the blood. The
wisdom in the blood.

Because it does get sweeter, doesn't it.
That's the nature of sweetness: it gathers,
like honey. Like the weather on your face. Laugh lines,
as the common wisdom calls them, right?
Maybe Dale was right. Maybe they were all right.
Maybe that's the secret –
to finally understand that it is just one time. One time.
One time for sweetness. One time for sadness.
One time for sorrow, one time for joy,
one time for all the tricks that you employ.
One time even for the pain. One time for all the scars
that you accrue, for whatever wisdom
falls on you. One time for happiness.
One time for every thing you ever saw, and
every girl that ever smiled at you,
and every pain that ever hurt you or
scarred you or stopped your breath in your heart,
and every joy that ever thrilled you
or took you home or showed you where serenity lives;
and every bitter or painful or sorrow tear you cried,
and every time you loved, and every time you didn't and should have and
feel so far lost now that you don't even know anymore. One time.
One time.
For knowing who and what you are.
For being it.

And there is the wisdom in the blood.
It will take you, past your knee and your ankle,
and your back and your shoulder and
the hurt in your heart, and the pain
that keeps getting older and farther away,
and soon will leave you all alone.
You are not what you once were; but you are lighter.
Your wings are not as strong, but your span is broader,
and you know now how to use the wind. You can still fly.
You are wearing scars, and you will wear them.
You know now how to touch down. You will
grow again. The earth will help you. The sky will help you.
Even the pain will help you.
And you will gather weather, and you will wear scars,
and you will grow old.

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