Because getting old just wasn’t enough of a challenge…

Accepting the fact that at a certain time in your life it becomes clear that the world’s focus is not on your generation, but the generations behind you, itself gives you pause. The older generation before you, has likely passed on, leaving the “senior” in you to fend for itself in a world that does not consider the challenges you face among the most pressing. Those challenges include downsizing, retiring, working, losing a partner, to name a few. Then along comes a pandemic in the form of the COVID-corona-Whuhan-China-callitwhatyouwish virus. For some, that Southern winter refuge you fled to, to shield you from northern winters, is the source of an unfathomable chasm that with quarantines and travel suspension, prevents you from visits with family and children–something you took quite for granted when you moved South.

What are some challenges and choices facing the 60+ generation? For starters, downsizing–managing a large home, possibly the “family home,” which was not too difficult with one or two full time jobs, and a houseful of children, but sitting in that same house now, possibly alone, with the ever-growing tax bill funding children you don’t have in schools they don’t attend, or plowing of streets you don’t use in winter, is one. Just as you decide that downsizing might be the way to go–you realize that grandchildren are on the horizon –ok, something you were able to project and think about–but what you didn’t think about was that a pandemic might mean creating pods and bubbles where you, your children and their children might need to quarantine under one roof, if you are to have any semblance of intimate contact with them. Downsizing, now doesn’t seem like such a good idea. But, if not now, when or ever? Then there’s the furniture, which you’ve kept in the family for years, but in which your children now have no interest. The British maxim–“we don’t buy furniture, we inherit it” decidedly doesn’t work in America. Finally, with or without a houseful of family, travel and gatherings for many seniors is currently considered ill advised…which begs the question: Is retiring from the job that gives you the only regular human contact you have, albeit on zoom and teams, a good idea? Now? Soon? Or ever?

What is clear, from a very unscientific polling is that there just isn’t enough “out there” to lend support, advice, counsel for the over-60 crowd to simplify, clarify or weigh the available choices or the pros and cons of the options we face. Unlike the choices we may have made in our younger years, these choices need to stick–and stick well. There is neither energy, time nor inclination for do-overs. As unpleasant as the concept seems, and as verboten as it is to talk of it, time isn’t on our side. The overriding hope needs to be that, whatever the choice, it won’t be one we regret–no do-overs on the eighteenth tee.

These are only a few of the emotional/intellectual quagmires many seniors find themselves considering these days–downsize, move, retire? How about you? And, wouldn’t it be nice, if someone, just someone or maybe a pair of people, say a pair that dabbled in law and real estate for forty plus years, devoted themselves to creating a platform that managed to support all of us as we try to maneuver this maze we call life-over-sixty in 2020? Stay tuned.

Waiting and waiting…. for Godot and the future to unfold.

It’s been six or seven years since I saw Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen  in Beckett’s play, Waiting for Godot in London. I don’t quite remember now what I thought of the play at the time (though I did like it). As I skim and review its lines for this post, it occurs to me that much of the double-entendre may have been missed in the viewing, now caught in the reading. For sure, there is one thing that I did not seize upon when I saw the play–the singular concept of waiting. Recent events have me thinking about how much of the present is lost to waiting for some event yet to occur. And, with that thought, I returned to the play script to see if there was a message there missed by me during my first exposure to it.

In the last 24 hours,  during  conversations with a handful of people fairly close to me, the following were being awaited:   word from a college admissions office, commitment from a venture capitalist, a reply a text after a first date, bar exam results, a grant award, a layoff notice and the arrival of a newborn. But what really struck me was how the present was being forfeited to the wait. In the words of Estragon, recoiling before Pozzo,  “That’s to say . . . you understand . . . the dusk . . . the strain . . . waiting . . .” Every person, without exception,  was straining under the pressure of the wait.

Where there was once capacity in “slower moving times” to enjoy the present, knowing the future would unfold in the eventuality, the present seems to have been lost to anticipation, forfeited to the wait. My grandmother used to say: “Everything comes to those who wait.” We were conditioned to think of waiting as something possibly to be valued. But now,  like Estragon and Vladimir,  people are waiting–day after day,  with blind obedience to some messenger from the future, that commands, it will come and they should agonizingly wait for it.

Please don’t think that this perspective comes from some Polly Anna of a writer who herself has nothing looming in the future. Indeed my future holds a ball that will drop, which while not my own, is nevertheless heavy and sad and will affect me deeply. But living in the present, for me means not waiting agonizingly for Godot to come by the tree near where I reside–but to go out and about, living  life.  Perhaps I will bump into my Godot as I bumble along –and by bumble I mean take it by the tail and whirl it as hard and fast as I can.  As for waiting for this or that, I will deal with whatever it is…no sooner than I have to, no later than I am required to.

And, yes there I go ending another sentence with a preposition.