“Μaybe old people were never children, like we claim with Mrs. Bentley, but, big or little, some of them were standing around at Appomattox the summer of 1865. They got Indian vision and can sight back further than you and me will ever sight ahead.”
“That sounds swell, Doug; what does it mean?”
Douglas went on writing. “It means you and me ain’t got half the chance to be far-travelers they have. If we’re lucky we’ll hit forty, forty-five, fifty. That’s just a jog around the block to them. It’s when you hit ninety, ninety-five, a hundred, that you’re far-traveling like heck.”
The flashlight went out.
They lay there in the moonlight.
“Tom,” whispered Douglas, “I got to travel all those ways. See what I can see. But most of all I got to visit Colonel Freeghleigh once, twice, three times a week. He’s better than all the other machines. He talks, you listen. And the more he talks he gets you to peering around and noticing things. He tells you you’re riding on a very special train, by gosh, and sure enough it’s true. He’s been down the track, and knows. And now here we come, you and me, along the same track, but further on, and so much looking and snuffling and handling things to do, you need old Colonel Freeleigh to shove and say look alive so you remember every second! Every darn thing there is to remember! So when kids come around when you’re real old, you can do for them what the colonel once did for you. That’s the way it is, Tom, I got to spend a lot of time visiting him and listening so I can go far-traveling with him as often as he can.”
Tom was silent a moment. Then he looked over at Douglas there in the dark.
“Far-traveling, you make that up?”
“Maybe yes and maybe no.”
“Far-traveling,” whispered Tom.
“Only one thing I’m sure of,” said Douglas, closing his eyes, “it sure sounds lonely.”
(Ray Bradbury, “Dandelion Wine”, 1946)
… grateful to my friend Angela Petraline for sharing