Sunday, May 31, 2015
Entry for 31 May 2015:
When I was about 10, around 1960, I sometimes tried to imagine turning 65 in the year 2015, which seemed at the time to be an impossibly distant science-fictional future. Would we have all blown ourselves up with nuclear weapons? Would the air still be breathable, or would the planet have become so polluted as to be uninhabitable? Would there be flying cars? Would people have gotten to Mars? Would there be videophones? Would we be reading books on little flat screen things? Would I be a well-known author, like my grandmother? Would I have found True Love? You could tell that I read a lot of science fiction, had a vivid imagination, and wavered between pessimism and romanticism.
So here I am, more than 50 years later, living in Scotland with my partner, Diane. The world hasn’t ended, at least not yet. My kids are grown up and doing well. I have two grandchildren, Mizuki (5) and Yuki (1). The other day I got a wonderful birthday card from Mizuki.
We haven’t blown ourselves up, and the air is still breathable. There are no flying cars, although unmanned drones are starting to be a big thing. People haven’t gotten to Mars, but our little mechanical rovers have, and through them we have also. We have tablet computers where we can read and save all the books we care to, which is a good thing, because our bookshelves are all filled up. And then there is Skype, where I can see my grandkids every week, even if I sometimes have trouble hearing anything over their excited chatter. I’ve published several books and something like 150 scientific articles and book chapters. Although I once wanted to be a science fiction writer, I now hope that most of what I’ve written is more science than fiction. Oh, yes, I did eventually find True Love, but in the process discovered that what is really true about love, is that it is scary and frustrating and amazing and a lot of work.
Even though I’ve now reached the classical age of retirement in the culture in which I grew up, I’m having trouble getting my head around fully retiring. After all, I’ve already retired once, when I when I moved to Scotland 9 years ago to take up a position as professor of counseling. I’ve been there, done that. Besides, I’m still having a lot of fun with the training, psychotherapy, and writing I’m doing. My main complaint (aside from the usual dissatisfactions with the level of bureaucracy and administration that are endemic to being an academic in a university at this point in history) is that I don’t have enough time to write.
In my family it is traditional on one’s birthday to contemplate the numerical significance of one’s newly acquired age. 65 factors into 2 prime numbers: 5 and 13. My father died 9 years ago, not long before we moved to Scotland, when he was 78, 13 years older than I’ve just become. My mother died 3 years ago, at the age of 83, at the end of her 3rd Saturn Return. I’m a cancer survivor, after been successfully treated for prostate cancer 5 years ago, in 2010. So far, it has not returned, but together with the deaths of my parents, the cancer has given me a deeper appreciation for the fragility of life and the value of living each day to the fullest. At this point, my goal is to do the most good that is in my power to do with the time I’ve got, and to have fun doing it. Happy Birthday, me!