When I was President of a University, a Professor of History asked me to come and speak in his class. Rumor had gotten out that I had been at Woodstock (yes, THE Woodstock, not its pathetic imitations) and the students wanted to hear about it. I was flattered that my inherent hipness and cool was being recognized, so long after the reality. That is, until I mentioned to a student that I was planning to speak in his class, and he said, “Oh yeah, we were really interested to know more about those olden days.”What? What? Fortunately for my ego, the class was never scheduled.
I was struck by that memory recently as I read about this being the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of World War I. That event has always been in the ancient past (or “olden days”) for me, and at a century remove, it really is far in the past. But in the article it was pointed out that World War II began only 25 years later! Twenty-five years? Why 1989 was 25 years ago. That was the year my father died, and I can still remember him vividly.
Time has a funny way of collapsing, the older I get. My brother just had his 50th high school reunion. Some schoolmates were recognizable, but he was grateful for the (hopefully large type) name tags on others. “Time heals all wounds, and wounds all heels,” as the saying goes.
Being young has not really prepared me for being old. I had few elderly “role models”, and even those I had lived in a world so different from today’s that I can’t say they had many lessons to impart. One big surprise for me was how I have adapted to not working a full time job. My father worked until the day he died at 74; and my mother, until 85, was a nurse in the Operating Room, sometimes working a five day week. She broke her arm, and while it was healing, they closed the hospital on her! She wasn’t about to start somewhere else at that point. I figured that I would do the same, more or less.
But when I lost my job in the recession, trying to raise funds when there were no funds to be raised, I was suddenly in a whole new world. And I hated it. I wanted to be gainfully employed, dammit! Not faced with hours to fill every day. But slowly, slowly, those hours filled. And now I am one of those obnoxious types who complains that they don’t have enough hours in the day, and just don’t know how they ever had time to do a full time job while they were still employed.
I’ve written two mystery novels (yes, I will publish them, as soon as I have the time), am studying Spanish and French every day. I meditate, have two part time consulting jobs at the moment, and walk and work out lots (maintenance of the physical status quo has become top priority). And with time for cooking, Phil and I eat very well (which also necessitates those walks and gym visits).
Here’s the view from my home office:
“We are stardust, we are golden, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.” But not too soon.