Authoring

“Every time I write a book, I’ve probably taken five years off my life.” Rachel Cusk, an award winning memoirist.

It certainly doesn’t help to spend that much time sitting. Some recent literature suggests that’s not a good idea with regard to your health.

Nonetheless, I find it extremely relaxing and engaging to write books for publication. It is a beneficial, all consuming part of my latter years. The activity has enriched by God’s grace, this period of my life.

The paradox is a little like many things in life such as home ownership. It’s a wonderful privilege to own a home. But, it also gives you the opportunity for numerous instances of repair/maintenance. They come as a surprise and sometimes an expense that is more than you anticipated.

That’s life.

Hearing

“Have you never noticed that most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of a witness?”Margaret Millar, the late American Canadian writer.

If I want monology, I will write a memoir or some fiction. If I want to listen, I ‘ll ask probing questions about the issues raised.

I won”t give an example in my own life. It’s too self directed, per some of the better literature I have read. It has taken me years and years to understand loving conversation particularly with those with whom I hold the closest bonds.

No one said it would be easy. It isn’t. It is only through God’s direction I ever learned and retained any of this. I still stumble.

Glancing at Where We Have Been

It was 1977. Kristine and I met and married in the last nine months of the year.

Two unique movies that year would later produce multiple, top-draw sequels, Rocky and Star Wars. I sat there watching Star Wars and just did not get it. Kris did love the film as did millions of others

Rocky I understood. It was about overcoming people’s expectations. It was a beautifully crafted film.

But those were only films. Reality is a far cry from filmdom

Today, 45 years later, we are blessed with the ultimate appeal, loving God and following His lead. He turned our life around for the first time 38 years ago. There isn’t anything even close that Kris and I have ever experienced.

The Examined Life

Look for a long time at what pleases you, and a longer time at what pains you.” Collette, the 20th-century, French novelist who wrote Gigi.

Do we ever know ourselves? Observing what pleases you can help. Noting what bothers you can be eye-opening.

Perhaps the behavior that bothers you was a behavior that annoyed you from a parent throughout your childhood. Maybe it’s an unpleasant behavior he or she modeled for you and you’ve developed the same bad habit.

Unpleasant stuff to consider. Uphill. I couldn’t make any progress without God’s grace.

Speech?

“I am told that I talk in shorthand and then smudge it.” JRR Tolkien, renowned author of Lord of the Rings.

I live with the same problem. Give me some time to write and edit. Then you will find clarity and concise English.

But let me relate away from that keyboard and you might not be sure I am speaking English. I was better at the spoken word at 15 than I am at 77. So much for growth.

Others

“One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth the doing is what we do for others.” Lewis Carroll, who gave us Alice in Wonderland.

Yes, it is good for my soul to help others in need. I think it’s true for all of us.

We are born demanding  and self-centered, but in maturing we generally point ever more outside ourselves. That was the beauty of a work-life in healthcare.

Here in my anectdotage I have the privilege of writing for you. What a delight. Thank you

Your Music

“Many people,” said Oliver Wendell Holmes, “die with all their music in them.” He was a 20th century American jurist and legal scholar.

I can’t even imagine how large a number that might be in the 21st century, but I plan not to die that way. I have blogged and published memoirs and novels for about seven years.

Although a relatively quiet person, I have had lots of stories to tell and blogs I hope have spoken to you. To have not done so would have turned my retirement into a parched land much to my regret.

Sing your song. It is likely at the very least your family is eager to listen.

Change

“It’s not easy to subdue the overweening ego in order to free the adventuresome soul.” Parker J. Palmer, American author.

Oh, those mixed motives. We all possess the mixture. How does the dark side affect our loved ones? Badly.

My journey is to help my lesser self diminish and optimize my better self in the hands of God in this era of the selfie. I need to grow old gracefully despite my hearing becoming worse, my joint mobility eroding, and the number of my brain cells diminishing.

Of one thing, I am certain. I can’t do it without the Lord’s help. To the extent I can follow Him, I think even my old age will have that adventuresome quality of which Mr. Palmer speaks.

On Love by Alain de Botton, a Book Review

Alain de Botton is a Swiss-born philosopher whose 5/28/16 article in the New York Times, Why You Will Mary the Wrong Person, was by a quantum leap the most-read NYT article of 2016. In 1993, his novel, On Love, was published. 

The book is about the making and breaking of the once-beautiful relationship between Chloe and the narrator. The novel probes the mystery, joy, and sorrow of their love. The fiction asks some age-old questions, reminding the reader of the complexity of love.

It’s a subject of universal interest treated uniquely by the probing mind of Mr. Botton. On Love is a story I believe is well worth your time.

I am reminded of the words of the late American author, Susan Sontag:“A good book is an education of the heart. It enlarges your sense of human possibility, what human nature is, of what happens in the world. It’s a creator of inwardness.”

That Last Quarter

I am two weeks and two days short of the ninth anniversary of my retirement. I remember struggling with whether I should work on Saturdays late in my career when it seemed necessary. Technology had not helped diminish my weekly hours making it far easier and tempting to work at home on Saturdays. At one point I even considered laboring on Sundays but, thank God, my spouse, Kristine, quickly talked me out of it.

I cannot describe how gratifying it was to walk out of my office on that last day of work. It was almost like the world had been lifted off my shoulders.

On the other hand, it wasn’t long before various systems in my body were beginning to slow down and decay. I am a victim of inbreeding as a 100 percent Ashkenazi Jew.

My paternal grandparents were cousins. Not a good thing. I am slowly feeling the effects of that now approaching 78 years of age in less than five months.

By God’s grace, he found Kristine and me almost 38 years ago. It’s made the road more tolerable and more peaceful. She is the love of my life and He is our savior.