Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Male balding pattern.


Anyone who’s grown a mustache or beard knows the feeling.

It’s a strange and wily experience for anyone who’s ever grown a mustache, become accustomed to it, and then shaved it off. Moments after you rinse the last hairs from the razor and look up into the mirror and see your upper lip looks like Howdy Doodie’s as if the rim of the lip stuck to your front teeth when smiling and won’t let go even after the grin is long gone. 
Beards must be worse. 
The pubic area can also take getting used to after your first waxing, strange, like an adult noodle on an infant’s crotch.

I had the same shock the first time a shaved my head, and haven’t recovered since then. The entire head looks so different from the inner image of myself I sometimes get a start when I inadvertently glance into a mirror. It’s gotten more drastic with age.

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but what if your book doesn’t have a cover? Or, hair?

I started losing my hair just as my life began to blossom: at 21. I’d finally removed from the sufferings of childhood and was, in my mind, on my way to becoming a star of stage and film. I was ecstatic.  As male balding pattern edged its way over my cranium, I went into a frantic depression. If I lost all my hair, ended up looking like my grandfather from whom I’d inherited the damn gene, what would become of my career, fame, and fortune? I’d received much acclaim about my naked ass on stage, but would the audience remain so enthusiastic about a naked cranium? I doubted it. At least, not back then.

From that point on, my ‘self’ with hair became my portrait of Dorian Gray. No matter how many positive remarks I got about my appearance, I couldn’t help thinking how much more impressive I would have come across with hair.  NO matter how good looking a person may be, hair improves one’s looks considerably.  

Even on the other side, how much more attractive an ugly person is made if they have a full head of hair. Or, do you think Tommy Lee Jones would look better bald? Tom Selleck? Julia Roberts?

The whole hype has changed over the years, especially now that the skinhead look has become so trendy. But for the years I spent onstage, I couldn’t help thinking the missing ingredient that would lead to overnight fortune and acclaim was hair.

Now that I am older, this whole thing ceases to bother me. How could anyone in their right mind really think it matters? There are so many other things happening in the world that deserve your attention. Getting ‘likes’ on Facebook, for example! 😉

Friday, July 26, 2019

MJ

See the source image

I read an article on the internet yesterday that claimed smoking marijuana can can cause short term memory loss.

I was soooooooo relieved. I thought I was entering the first stages of Alzheimers.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Grandma's Hands

See the source image

Grandma’s hands

When I was quite young, I found going to church every Sunday morning a tedious waste of time. My child-like logic could find nothing justifiable about sitting on hard-wooden pews for hours on end, trying to keep my eyes open while the minister droned on about something totally irrelevant and incomprehensible to anyone this side of old age.
Singing the hymns offered no respite from the aggravation. Most of the songs were either written an octave higher than anyone, other than Maria Callas, could enjoy singing, or with tunes too complicated to disentangle and get into.
Still, I reasoned, church must have had some kind of appeal else why would it be so full every week?
One Sunday, something happened that brought me a little closer to understanding the riddle, an experience that activated a deep-seated curiosity initiated a quest that would dominate the next fifty years of my life.
I sat next to my grandmother and played with the bulging, blue veins lacing the backside of her ancient hands, (se was forty-five), a Sunday-morning preoccupation that never failed to fascinate me. I'd single out one of the larger purple/gray protuberances and with the tip of my finger press it back into the surrounding skin until it disappeared. Then I'd slowly trace my finger along the translucent skin until the vein sprang back into sight. I repeated the process with another vein. And another.
Eventually, the vein game got boring. Then, I’d put her hand back on her lap and reach up to play with the hanging flab of skin on the underside of her arm. I gently slapped the doughy substance of her flabby triceps this way and that, half-listening to the voice of the preacher droning relentlessly on in the background.
That particular afternoon, the heat and boredom lulled me into a trance-like stupor. The fear my father would smack me alongside the head coupled with the spellbinding captivation with the sagging skin of my grandmother's aged arm kept me from sinking into total unconsciousness.
Out of the blue, I was flooded with an intense feeling of pleasure and peace. Within a heartbeat, an energetic but soothing heat rushed up the center of my back and exploded into tiny particles of light just behind my half-lidded eyes. It felt as though every cell of my body was dancing in a contained state of quiet ecstasy. (That’s not how I would have described it back then. I also wouldn’t have said it felt like a cosmic orgasm, which, upon reflection, wouldn’t have been too far off base. Back then, the experience scared the bejesus out of me because I thought I peed my pants.)
Minutes after it had passed, I realized I wanted more. A lot more!
I knew something very holy, very meaningful and very horny had just happened and I wanted it to happen again. But how?
Years later, I realized this incident was my first step on the proverbial journey of a thousand miles; the point when I first began my pursuit of the elusive state of enlightenment.
For the next years, I did everything known to mankind to make that meaningful experience happen again. I attended all Sunday services, strained my vocal cords to sing the meaningless hymns, participated in the boring litanies, and tried desperately to stay awake during the preacher’s senseless sermons.
To no avail.
Thinking the transcendental experience might have had something to do with the back of my grandmother’s hands, I rubbed them raw. The next week, she sat between my brother and sister and left me to my own devices.
It wasn’t until the later part of the sixties, that I re-experienced that same feeling of spaced-out bliss. Only this time, I wasn’t in a church and I wasn’t sitting next to my grandmother. I was sitting on a couch in the living room of a person with whom I was about to have my very first sexual encounter. And it was his hand I was playing with this time. The sacred melodies now drifting through my head were not from the choir up to the left of a church altar, but from Jefferson Airplane booming out of the stereo on the other side of the room. And, it wasn’t the droning voice of the preacher that was lulling me into a state of ecstatic bliss but the lid of grass I had just shared with the guy seated next to me. Looking back, I realize I was far closer to finding God that evening than on any Sunday afternoon in my youth.
Now, I spend my time following the veins on the backside of my own aged hands. Not in church. Mostly on the toilet, the only place where I allow the time for such ridiculous folly.
s
Excerpt from my book: Seeking Oz.

Monday, July 22, 2019

New word for old


See the source image

Growing more sophisticated with age.


“So, do you want to grow old in Germany?”

The question came at me  when I was quite young, (forty), and has arisen more and more often the longer I remain here in Munich.

I was taken back when it was first asked. Not because of growing old in a land far away from  my own, but because, quite simply,  I couldn’t imagine ever growing old. But then, I’ve also had trouble with the concept of growing up, which still seems to be happening.

 And suddenly, from what I hear, I am… old.

At least in numbers.

On a day when I was feeling blue, I might admit I’ve gotten ‘older,’ but from the look in people’s eyes who see me, ‘old’ better embodies the fear I see in their eyes when they hear how old I truly am.

I jest. People don’t look at me with horror written on their faces. Rather, admiration, astounding, thankfulness.

“How good you look for your age!” “I would’ve thought you were 20 years younger!”

“Gawd! I hope I look as good as you when I get old!”

All compliments that might buffer my aging process, but certainly won’t appease it. I’ve yet to see someone give me a look like I used to get when I was 20. A look full of lust, longing, and an urge to reach out and touch.

But that’s another story.

Actually, most people I know and meet, can’t believe I’m as old as I am. To tell you the truth, I can’t either. I feel nowhere near as old as I am. Granted, I move from one position to the next a little more slowly. And, as there is a slight tendency to stoop more than before, I also have to remind myself to stand up straight and lengthen my gait several times during the day. But, all in all, I am more than satisfied with the way I turned out at this advanced age.

Which, apparently, is not as advanced as I once thought it was. Even though any age number above 55 sounds like a dirty word in my ear, for those born in the last generations, the number doesn’t seem to have the same meaning. Maybe 70 really is the new 50.

So, I’ve grown old in Germany. Bavaria, rather, which is as foreign to Germany as Hawaii is to the United States. I have to admit, it’s a beautiful place to grow old. Older.

Back to that dreaded word. I think now, in the present age with all the advances we have made in medicine and nutrition, there should be another word for the winter of our lives. Old is too decrepit. For those of us who have remained active physically and mentally, who have not resigned ourselves to becoming decrepit and unbearable, I think the word, ‘developed’ would serve better. Or, ‘full-blown.’ Although ‘full-blown’ rings a bit too hectic in my ears.  Even better: experienced.

I have grown more experienced in Munich. Have become much more sophisticated in the past years. Now, doesn’t that sound better?

After all, why would I ever describe myself as old when I am doing the self-same things I did when I was 40? Teaching, going to the gym, taking an occasional dance class, performing onstage, checking out young good-looking guys in the street? (Never fear, I wouldn’t consider putting on a g-string and go-go boots to wow the masses like I did so many years ago, but I’m certainly not ashamed to dance around the apartment in my underwear.)

I salute all you other sophisticated, more developed, and experienced people who have made it this far, and wish you all many very merry fulfilled years to come.

Friday, July 19, 2019

dress accordingly


I was coming out of the shower at the gym the other day when a guy walked in from the workout room.
“Hey, Eric. How ya doin, man?”
“Fine,” I replied.
“Lookin great, man. But I have to tell ya, you really should start dressing your age.”
I laughed as if he were cracking a joke and quickly began talking to the guy with the locker next to mine. I prayed the jock who had been working out wouldn’t continue with his tacky insinuations. 
He didn’t.
But my inner critic picked up on the remark and hasn’t given me any peace of mind since.
What on earth did the guy mean, I should start dressing my age? After all, I’d been naked when the suggestion came my way. 

Maybe he was referring to my training togs. I’d moved out of basic gray sweat pants, tennis shoes, and a t-shirt just after I came to Europe, fifty years ago, and started experimenting with color. Which pleased my soul, but maybe not his?
Or, was it my street clothes? There, again, I’d done everything possible to keep people from thinking I was a rough-hewn American just after I got my first paycheck at the Lido. I was the first on my block to get houndstooth bell-bottom pants back then, and it’s been uphill all the way.
As far as my training clothes were concerned, I had to admit, with the advent of yoga pants and stretchy butterfly soft materials, I’d more or less fallen back into the habit of wearing colorful tights and lightweight mesh tank tops to train in. Was there an age limit on wearing designer sweatpants, comfort fitting gym wear and slogan t-shirts I hadn’t heard about?
I certainly didn’t feel I was overboard with my street clothes either. Though I steered clear of blue jeans and khaki pants, I also didn’t care that much for the sedate greens and grays most German men over the age of 40 wore. I felt it my duty to give the nation a bit more color. I’ll admit, the skin-tight pants that hit the market when the fashion industry finally discovered elasticity in men’s trousers took a bit getting used to. But tight jeans weren’t anything new. I’d worn them in the seventies, albeit with a lot more gas in the gut than today. Aside from that, why shouldn’t a man wear a little color in his shirts? After all, I was no nine to fiver and had no one to impress in the business world. As an artist, free spirit and outlander, I feel it my duty to get as much color into the drab German streets as possible.
So, maybe I do go overboard in the fashion department, but is fashion only reserved for the young. How old is too old anyway?
Should I dress my chronological age or my biological age? In numbers, I’m almost 70, yet the doctor tells me a have the constitution of a 50-year-old. Add to that, my spirit is singing out something like 25.
Or, should I remain faithful to the culture in which one was brought up and dress according? There’s certainly no way that I want to walk down the street looking like a German man of my age. But even as an American, I have to consider West Coast style and East Coast style, about as far apart as my head and my heart. 
I’m confused.
Which is bound to be the case when one follows another’s advice about what clothes suit a certain age group.
To give the guy credit though, I often wonder if it is my inner critic that is looking in the mirror when I’m dressed and ready to go out or my inner child. What would make the child happy would cause considerable upset for the adult. Whenever my inner child is happy, my inner adult starts to get nervous. On the other side: my inner adult makes my inner child want to gag.
Also to consider: a normal 70-year-old man who has worn nothing but a suit and tie since he got out of college would obviously dress differently than an artist of the same age. That’s also my dilemma. Would the cleft be as wide if both were gay?
Do old yoga teachers dress differently than young ones?
Funny how a random comment can make you think.


But, I am no lion, and certainly don’t want to cause any waves. Still, it’s important that I have the courage to be true to myself.

Ho, hum.







Monday, July 15, 2019

Inner Pictures


Growing up an artist, I haven’t had a very strong affiliation with the numbers that define age in our culture. Artists, especially dancers, remain forever young… until, one sad day, they are old. And then, it seems, there is nothing they can do to change it.

I beg to differ. There are, in fact, many ways.


Getting rid of the inner pictures.

My grandfather died when I was four. I remember him lying in the silken lining of his wooden casket, neatly groomed with a single purple flower planted in his ice-cold, cupped hands.
He was the oldest man I ever knew.  

He was 63.

My grandfather, lying in his coffin, is the image that surfaces when I wonder what old looks like, ever since I turned 65. His face is the reference point for my understanding old age. He has become, for me, the personification of the word, ‘old.’

At least three times a day now I ask myself if his is the face people on the street see when they look into my eyes. Do they see the 25-year-old I feel within, or a man on the brink of decrepitude?

 Furthermore, whenever I am presented with a physical challenge of any sort, I wonder if he, in his advanced state of decline, would have been in the position to get the task done. My yoga class starts and I find myself thinking if my students see me as a vibrant, appealing personification of peace or a wretched old man who is playing at being something he is not. When I dance onstage, I often ask myself if the audience is applauding my performance at the end of the show, or cheering my courage to present myself in tights and ballet slippers at this late phase of my life. When I take a dance class, are the other students secretly laughing behind my back because I am 20 years older than the oldest of them, or are they in wonder watching me dance to my inner drummer? And, should some tasty morsel of manhood look my way when I am out walking, is it because they see a booger hanging out my nose, or because they have a perverse taste for old men.

The vision of my grandfather’s aged face superimposed on mine haunts me day by day making me feel like death is waiting just around the corner.

Obviously, this image of what I should look like now that I am a senior is hindering me from feeling any kind of fulfillment as I enter this late phase of my life.  I am well aware that it is time to find a new role model, one that shows me what which I am capable of and not one that reminds me I am too aged to get up off the couch without a cane, has me gagging when I get undressed in front of a mirror, forces  me to turn down challenges that keep me out of my comfort zone and prove I haven’t even begun to stretch my limits. If I am ever to become the glorious person I used to think was only possible with the help of youth, it is essential I find the respective role model.

But where do I find a substitute for this picture that haunts me? And, once I do, how do I make the exchange?

To be continued.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Intention

Intention


This blog is a recounting of my daily life experiences as I grow older.

It will also be an account of the inner counsel and advice I’ve received along the way, advice I have done my best to follow, knowing it will continue to keep my life interesting and inspiring. For, what is life without motivation, making goals, and achieving them?

These tasks were easy enough to achieve when I was younger, but as I grow older, the act of remaining inspired seems to have more of a chore, an effort taking a lot more imagination and will power.

When I was young, there were infinite possibilities and remaining inspired was as easy as painting my toenails. There were almost too many goals to consider. As I grew older and the horizon came into focus, the boundless sky appeared more limited.  I realized if I wanted to stay motivated and inspired, I would have to develop a new paradigm. A shift from seeing goals as getting or becoming, to recognizing the incredible worth of what is happening here and now. 

This blog is about the simple things I’ve discovered that can help me retain a life worth living even though I've moved into the seemingly dark domain of old age, one of the most formidable undertakings I’ve yet encountered.

I hope to share some of the techniques and mindsets I’ve discovered, (and continue to discover); everything from nutrition and physical health to yoga, meditation, and moving out of the space of my head into my heart

 I am not writing this blog to become famous, make a quick buck, or to establish myself as someone better than anyone else, but to list the methods that have worked for me and might work for you.

Resources that have helped me remember my true magnificence, have kept me in the constant realization that, although I am in this world, (a world where growing older can appear pretty heinous at times), I am not OF this world. 

Only in that realization is true Peace, in any situation, possible.

Twas the month before Christmas

I’m not a real fan of Christmas, especially now that I found out that Jesus was a Pisces and not a Capricorn. Yes, according to ...