by Chrysa Smith

All this banter about WikiLeaks this past week has left me googling it all. Quite frankly, I don’t get it.

Some Aussie, who looks like he could be one of Carmen’s gaunt, vampire characters (and not as hot as Becquer) has told our national ‘secrets’ to apparently anyone willing to listen. Is it dangerous? Is it detrimental? Is it classified? Is it a crime? Will someone get whacked? Or is it stuff that everyone already knows? I don’t know a WikiLeak from a bladder leak—-but just maybe, they’re both signs of aging.

Ben Franklin once told a fellow citizen that he (and other politicians of the day) have just ‘given us a republic, if we can keep it.’ Interesting stuff. Ben was a brilliant guy—somebody who’d be great fun for a night out on the town, I think. But also a guy who knew men, and power and absolute power and corruption. He knew how damn hard it would be to keep things, like everything in life really needs to be, in balance. Too large, too small, too fragile, too high, too low, too strong, too weak, too much, too little.

So, think about it for a minute—what happens as we age? Both as individual human beings and collectively, as a society? Our balance is off–it becomes faulty, less than perfect. Our bladder urges become too strong, our memories, too weak. Appetite may still be strong; energy, not so much(thus the middle-age bulge). Sex drive? That depends what’s on tv, what’s been accomplished that day and how we’re both feeling.

How did we exactly get to this point? Have we retained our manners? dignity? self-discipline? ethics? morals? values? Has a pretty good life made us complacent? fat? wanting? needy? self-absorbed? Do we still know what’s appropriate anymore? Have we forgotten? Have we, like Toodles, the teetering, old man in the movie Hook, lost our marbles?

One of the greatest admirations I have is for those who age gracefully. I think it’s a difficult art for individuals (and societies) who were once beautiful, lovely, great, strong to keep the balance. I’m now 50 and this country is over four times that age. There’s a little excess weight, baggage, fraying around the edges on both—-hopefully we can try to keep the leaks, the wrinkles, frowns and love handles in check, under control for as long as we can. It ain’t a pretty picture to stock our shopping carts with Depends, wrinkle cream, Dr. Scholl products, hair color and high-fiber cereals, but we all get there one day. Luckily, our vision and memories catch only about 1/4 of the images really there—which are promptly forgotten in about—oh, maybe an hour. Oh, the Golden Age to come—-I’d still rather wear it and buy it than become it. Quick, let’s get the glue and duck tape and plug all the unsightly, unseemly imperfections.

Oh, Fountain of youth, founders of our republic, where art thou when thou needest you most?