Saturday, February 24, 2007

Self-indulgence on Joe Lieberman's birthday

Sixty-five years ago on this day, Sen. Joe Lieberman entered this world.

So did I.

A strange convergence of beginnings and beings, and one unworthy of comment, except that we are both Democrats (he, barely; me, with serious reservations) and we are both very much alive.

I wouldn’t normally remark on my birthday except that this one obviously places me at a mid-point between being 50 and 80—God-willing I make it to that age and in tolerable good health.

When you are 65, you are undeniably considered old. No more of this “late middle age” stuff. I’ve been receiving AARP mailings for 10 years or longer and have always shrugged them off.

No longer.

When I mount buses now, I have the status of an “honored citizen,” though I have no idea to what or to whom I owe the honor, save mere survival. I get to sit in those side-wise seats, all the easier to plop into, but I have to wrench my neck to see where I am headed. I’m not sure it’s an even trade, but I am sure it’s not worth worrying over.

I’m in much better shape than I ever imagined I would be at 65. Except for being near deaf without $4000 worth of gadgetry stuffed in my ears, I’m surprisingly fit. I run three miles three days a week and lift weights.

I undertook this mildly obsessive workout 18 months ago when I decided I wanted to stick around a few years longer. I really do have too much to do…and, yes, to write and teach…and learn.

I’m curious to learn whether I can make much of a difference. I still believe that’s why we are here—as delusional as we can be about it, what with suicide bombers, cigarette manufacturers and CEOs whose greed is beyond obscene.

They aren’t alone in delusion. A lot of us are living way beyond the planet’s means. Collectively we have made an utter mess of things for everyone. It is too easy to become fatalistic about life here.

I don’t know how much longer I have, a couple decades, tops, according to the actuarial charts.

Whatever it turns out to be, I’m ever more aware that I’m creeping up on the time when it will be enough.

Wonder what Joe thinks on our birthday....

Insert here a Garrison Keillor-like voice:

Here’s a poem by Stephen Crane:

The sage lectured brilliantly.
Before him, two images:
“Now this one is a devil,
And this one is me.”
He turned away.
Then a cunning pupil
Changed the positions.
Turned the sage again:
“Now this one is the devil,
And this one is me.”
The pupils sat, all grinning,
And rejoiced at the game.
But the sage was a sage.

That’s this writer’s almanac for February 24, 2007.

“Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.”


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