Longevity

Looking ahead…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

One of the occasional mysteries of life is longevity. Genes you say. My mother lived several years longer than both of her siblings. Good healthcare you say? At one point and it may still be true, the oldest person on earth was a Holocaust survivor.

The bell shaped curve has these tiny ends on the bell, the exceptions to the rule. Your doc says you have a 90 % chance of survival. But if you are on the end of the bell and don’t survive the illness, your chances were 0 %.

Death is a horrible thing. Even if one follows every bit of scientific prevention to this point, 40 % of the world’s cancer is of completely unknown origin.

That same scientific method has demonstrated the effectiveness of prayer. Perhaps that is an alternative the non-prayerful should consider. May God bless you every one.

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Youth, Yore and Yearning

“When I can look life in the eyes, grown calm and very coldly wise, life will have given me the truth, and taken in exchange – my youth.” Sarah Teasdale Pulitzer Prize-winning, 20th-century American poet.

Yes. Many of us are older but wiser. What about Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth? What have we lost?

It just doesn’t feel the same awakening in the morning. I just don’t spring from the mattress. It’s a process, not a single act.

Youth meant running, smoothly responding to a well-hit tennis ball, and, even, now and then, hitting a backhand down the line with margin at full tilt. I can only find that joy again in my mind’s eye.

As much as I enjoy the peace and calm of retirement, there are days I miss the swift, noisy days of yore. Yes “yore.” That’s a time long, long ago.

David McCullough, A Review and Remembrance

This is an updated version of my book review in honor of Mr. McCullough, who died yesterday at 89. He is the finest biographer I have read. I discovered today that beyond his fine written works; he narrated Ken Burns’ unforgettable breakthrough documentary on the Civil War.

What a story. Orville and Wilbur were so driven they spent both their lives single and childless. They had enormous intellectual curiosity, keen judgement and great courage.

Prior to their 1903 successful flight, others had many failed attempts to fly similar vehicles. David McCullough seems to attribute much of the Wrights’ success to their balanced judgement.

McCullough never diminished their daring attitudes but noted its softening with an eye to safety. For example, they performed test flights over soft sand dunes.

The author’s prose is rich and absorbing. The lives of the Wright brothers fascinated him. David’s enthusiasm is contagious as one reads his prose. I have read a lot of his historical biographies, some of which have won the Pulitzer. I consider this book McCullough’s “finest hour.” For me, it was a fascinating read.

David, our loss saddens us today. But you will be long remembered in your superb biographical work.

H. Robert Rubin, a best-selling, Amazon writer and author of Look Backward Angel, How Did I Get Through This? Please Save the Third Dance for Me (memoirs) and The Bloom is on the Rose (novelette), all available on Amazon.

Quiet in the Workspace

Quiet and focus…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

“I don’t listen to music while writing; it seems to me I’m trying to make my own kind of music, and to have anything else going on is just noisy interference. Chang-Rae Lee, a Korean American novelist.

Mornings, I get my juices flowing by enjoying coffee with my spouse and then continuing to a tranquil space to write. It was 50-60 years ago in my collegiate and medical school days I recall fleeing to the hush of the library to focus.

We are all unique and no less an essayist than Malcolm Gladwell needs noise to write. When he first got to the New Yorker having been a journalist in a vociferous environment, they assigned him to a secluded office. He frequented cafes to obtain the turbulence level required to do his work.

Writing for some with melody, perhaps, is even more difficult than crowd noise. After all, neuroscientists documented…

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A Life

“Life is unjust and this is what makes it so beautiful. Every day is a gift. Be brave and take hold of it.” Garrison Keillor, American author and radio personality who turned 80 today.

Good advice. Don’t you think?

Lord knows I have seen injustice in my sojourn. It’s painful.

But when it happens to us doesn’t it deepen and sensitize us? Doesn’t it get through our thick skull and closed heart. Doesn’t it make us just a bit more human? Might it even reduce our arrogance?

Those difficult days make the sweet ones so precious. That’s even truer for those of us who have our wits about us in our last quarter. Thank God for huge favors.

Thankfulness

A memoir of Mom…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

“There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.” John Calvin.

As we await the joys of America’s Thanksgiving tomorrow, horrible days await some people in other parts of the world. By God’s grace most of you reading this live in safety and comfort. That alone is worth our gratitude tomorrow.

My late mother, who died 15 years ago today, once drove with me near our home in her old age. It was a dark, dreary day and looking just off the street she commented on the beautiful flowers lining the roadway.

Today I miss her gratitude. She meant the world to me, a woman who prayed for her three children each day.

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Invisible

“Sometimes the heart sees what’s invisible to the eye.” So true, what the renowned 19th century poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson, proclaimed.

As I think of those 270 days in 1977 that Kristine and I met and married, my heart knew something that my eyes missed. Her wisdom. Her wit. Her warmth. The richness of sharing my life with her. She was completely different than anyone I had ever known.

Our wedding night was a rainy winter’s night in Bethesda, Maryland. But in my heart, it was the clearest and most blessed day of my life.

A Third Look at Why I Love the Golden State with the Golden Gate

California

From the age of ten I was an avid Rose Bowl watcher. That included the parade and the game.

As a seven year old from Dayton Ohio, my dad took me to Columbus to watch the Ohio State Buckeyes play football. He had actually been a boy scout usher in that stadium on opening day, October 7, 1922. It was the biggest thrill of my early childhood. The color. The game. The cheering crowd.

The Rose Bowl contract was between the Pac 10 and Big  10 ( Ohio State’s conference). So, I watched.

As I watched, I became engaged with the magnificent skyline and climate in Southern California. I had never lived anywhere with mountains. They painted the  horizon in the Rose Festival. To this day I can see the mountains and a few minutes away the Pacific from our home in SoCal.

I suppose the attachment goes deeper than that. My forebears were Middle Eastern, desert people. My 100 per Ashkenazi Jewish DNA leaves me more sanguine in SoCal’s desert climate, where we have lived just short of 43 years. I thank God we have been able to settle in a place this beautiful.

A Full Life

“Marriage is a decades-long experiment, conducted mostly in private; a test of will in the face of unexpected obstacles.” “You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.” Jojo Moyes, a British novelist. 

Could life be fully lived without love? Without commitment? Without obstacles? It wouldn’t be a life. 

To know that through what is now our fifth decade, this woman has not left while knowing me this well. It’s God’s grace alone that kept her here. 

To wed was the most important decision of my life, whatever the hurdles. It turned my trajectories about and led to two, now, adult children. It resulted in a like number of grandsons, with, likely, a few more “grands” on the way. Thank God, what a life.

A Day in the Life, Circa 1960, So Different

Just 62 years ago…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

It was 1960. I was a high school student in Miami, FL. We had three major networks on television, ABC, NBC, and CBS. They would broadcast from about 7 a.m. to about 1 a.m. daily, primarily in black and white though color was gaining a foothold. There were no all-night stations and cable television was non-existent. PBS was something in someone’s imagination.

Our only sports team was a Triple A, minor league, baseball club called the Miami Marlins. The NFL, NBA and MLB were small operations, one of which had just made two daring moves to the West Coast.

My leisure time was largely spent lying like a log on the beach. It was extremely relaxing and the rays were intensified by a silver reflector I aimed directly into my face. I had no idea I was causing irreparable harm to our largest organ, the skin. On the other hand…

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