We start life with dreams and end with memories. That is, if we are lucky. Otherwise, we end in pain or, sometimes, oblivion. As they say, ‘I am “healthy, wealthy and wise .” Many people remark on my youthfulness, energy, and even looks. Luckily, I picked the right parents. I eat well, sleep well and exercise daily.
Most importantly, I am in a loving relationship. However, I am struggling with this phase of life. And for the first time, I feel depressed on occasion.
I turned sixty when I started this blog almost 20 years ago. Thinking that it was likely that I would live another 30 years, I called it “Two-Thirds Done.” However, approaching 80, I am considering renaming it to “Well Done.”
I have never been good about being in the moment, but that is where I need to be now. The future does not hold much attraction for me, at least personally. While I can imagine my grandchildren as adults with their own families, I don’t think I picture myself holding my great-grandchildren. When I was young, I would be excited by what I thought was awaiting me, imagining space flights to Mars and robots that would tend to our needs and maybe even time travel. Now I think of such things; I realize I will not be around to experience them. So rather than feeling excited, I feel a tinge of sadness.
People my age or older represent about 4% of the population. So no wonder I often feel that I am the oldest person in the room; I am. Thankfully, there isn’t much ageism in Israel, where I live. I am fortunate to have friends 50 years younger than me here. I think that’s important for staying vital. I can’t imagine how it would be if I lived in the United States and young people looked through me like I wasn’t even there. Here, a waiter in his twenties may ask if you want to share “shots” and sit at your table to throw back some vodka.
When I see people I have not seen for many years, I am shocked at their looks and how old they appear. Probably they have the same experience looking at me. I even have it while looking at myself in the mirror and seeing the wrinkles on my arms.
Deborah and I travel a great deal, at least 3-4 months. Our trips are amazing. We seem to be the happiest when we are traveling. But even in this regard, I feel my world is closing down. As we age, our world tends to shrink. One way to resist this is to take trips that make us uncomfortable, at least when contemplating them. Trekking in Africa with the Mountain Guerrillas, walking the streets of Cairo, hiking on a glacier in Patagonia, and boating on the Danang River in Laos, are just a few things we have done. Covid made us more cautious, as it did for so many. We had considered going to the Philippines or Indonesia for my birthday but settled for a trip to Dubai. That was a mistake.
Moving to Israel more than five years ago was pretty radical in my early 70s. It was a good thing to do certainly for me. Deborah’s support in this has been one of her greats gifts to me. Learning Hebrew has been a big struggle. Almost all Israelis we encounter speak English well. There is little need to speak Hebrew to get by. But we know we are missing a lot by not understanding it well. I am at the point where I can read and write it reasonably well and speak with others if they are patient. But I can not understand everyday Hebrew conversations or watch news programs because I do not understand Hebrew when spoken rapidly.
I recently wrote a book, The Flight of a Wild Duck; while a very satisfying experience, it also impacted my thinking about my future because the book was about my past. It felt like putting a period at the end of a sentence on the last page of my life.
The frequency of death of those around me is increasing. I am starting to lose friends, especially those my age or older. Many of those still alive are suffering from chronic illnesses. One of my sons’ mother-in-law died recently; she was just a few years younger than me. It was the first time any of my grandsons had lost a grandparent. All four were blessed with their grandparents alive as they grew up. Now they will surely start to lose the rest, me included. We are all thinking, “who is next?”
It is not only death that robs us of those we love but also time. Where are the toddlers I used to play with? I can still hear their childish laughs, but they are nowhere to be found other than in my memory. Where are the beautiful young women I once loved? Where is the passion I once felt? Where is the child, the boy, the young man I once was?
Thankfully, I am left with memories and surrounded by love, but do I dare to dream again? Yes, I still have some dreams, like composing a movie score, making a revolutionary scientific discovery, and, even more unlikely, becoming fluent in Hebrew.
Why not turn your thinking around? You’ve done that many times in your life.
To use a baseball analogy, you are used to swinging for the fences, maybe it’s time to knock out a bunch of singles. A batter who hits a lot of singles is pretty exciting.
Please, no sports analogies. I am also not sure I made my point if that is your comment. It is no longer about doing but about being.
Beautiful written, Thank you!
I see a new book. Enjoying the moment.
Insightful. Deep. Philosophical. You achieved much. Stay healthy, be content of your achievements and enjoy the moment. Seems like you cherish the place you are, we should be lucky as you at your age, I guess. Best regards.
PS This post finally made me curious about your book.
I have always noticed that there are two Avrams: the one in the flesh and the one who writes on his keyboard.
Here it is even more visible: the man writing these words is not the one I had lunch with 8 days ago. Unless I’m guilty of not having enough empathy, enough attention, which is possible.
In any case, I read this sadness in the background. Rightly or wrongly I make comparisons with my life. I live a lot in the present moment because I understood very early on that when we talk about life in an abstract way, the present moment is actually life and that’s where I am most of the time. Is that why I am a happy and successful person? I don’t know. Like you, I have drawn a good number in the lottery of life.
I have often read in your writings that on your travels you try to put yourself in uncomfortable situations as a useful challenge. I honestly thought you could apply this concept to other aspects of your life. I suggested it to you, but it didn’t resonate.
It pains me that you feel depression approaching you from time to time, because in your book you explain that you had to fight it, but for reasons independent of you but depending on the difficulties you were going through. Here the reasons are within you.
Your friend uses the analogy of sport to give you advice. I don’t know sports, I don’t know what he’s talking about, and usually our analogies complicate what we mean. But I think what he’s suggesting is that at this point in your life you need to make a diametrical change in the way you approach it, to look at it from a different perspective. Easier said than done. I don’t have an opinion on this, except that it’s an outgrowth of your desire to put yourself in uncomfortable situations.
If the happy man that I am can bring some of that happiness to you, I look forward to meeting you at a restaurant table soon. I mean, meeting with the Avram of this post, if possible. Not to share my advice, I have neither the pretensions nor the competence, but the vibes.
Thanks for you comment. I have sent you a detailed reply. via email. Look forward to our next lunch.