Growing Old, Staying Relevant

sch board
Three quarters of a century old. Who among us thought, when we were angsting over turning thirty, that we would face the challenges of being seventy-five or older? When I turned thirty I got a guitar (that I never learned to play), an expensive sports car (that my ex wanted as part of our divorce settlement), and a tailor-made tennis outfit (even though I could never learn the game).
It’s embarrassing to remember how un-self-aware I was when both body and mind were young and agile. It’s not that I didn’t understand social causes. I joined with the African-American community to get out the black vote after MLK died, promoted breast feeding and natural childbirth, and generally was a good citizen. It’s just that most of my attention was squarely focused on me!
It took a near-fatal car crash, a divorce, and a stint as a policewoman to shake me loose from the “American dream” and awaken me to the “American reality.” There were causes to champion, lives and ideals to fight for, and a world outside to discover.
So here I am at the end of my teaching career, waiting for my memoir to catch the wind and get noticed, hoping to survive an onslaught of itises—including rheumatoid arthritis—and trying not to worry about my grandchildren’s’ departure from my expectations about how they would enter adulthood. I made two decisions: one, I was going to visit Bhutan and Mongolia and cross them off my bucket list; two, I would make a run for the county school board during the May primary. I leave for the Far East in a few weeks for three months; I was sworn into office on the school board two nights ago. Thanks to Skype, I can do both.
We can’t sit down and wait for others to stand up. Our struggle is not over until the last breath is drawn. I, for one, plan to make every day count.

PS: My memoir, The Fourth Moment: Journeys from the Known to the Unknown, will soon be out under the Univ. of Chicago Press. Stay tuned.

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