I am beginning...
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom
A few days ago my estranged wife handed me a photo of me and hizoner, the honorable David Dinkins, former mayor of New York City, which she had come across while sorting through papers.
It was taken 15 years ago when we were in grad school together at Columbia, immediately after I had interviewed him on stage as part of an event that I had organized for my colleagues. I didn’t give the picture much of a second thought, putting it aside, inside my current read, The Divorce Process: Empowerment Through Knowledge, to use as a book marker.
At least, I didn’t think twice about it until Dom started reading the book that I had left on the couch, and upon finding the photo again, asked, “Is he dead yet?” or maybe she asked, “Is he still alive?” I’m not really sure, to be honest, how she asked exactly, but I do know that she essentially insinuated either way that she thought he wasn’t around anymore.
I think he still is, I answered.
Subsequently, this prompted me to ponder my own existence. As I am turning 40 in about 10 days, on Thanksgiving. Contemplating her question, I was somewhat shocked into consciousness about my own age, something that I am not usually all-too self-conscious about.
However, as I took a look at the photo again, it suddenly occurred to me that this was me 15 years ago, the thought resounding within me, echoing and piquing me to assess how time has exacted its toll upon me.
I suppose I’ve survived its wrath fairly well—I still have all my teeth, I haven’t started using a cane, and I’m still riled by desire practically every day.
However, I have gained some weight, keeping it off is an ongoing endeavor, the application of which fluctuates with the tide of life’s demands.
I don’t run as much as I used to, but I think that is primarily because I’ve picked up a number of vices over the last 15 years.
And occasionally I have problems that I have to deal with that slow me down and get me bickering more than I care to admit—heel spurs, back aches, asthma.
Nonetheless and allthemore, I am still alive, and perhaps, a bit wiser than I was 15 years ago.
I am beginning to understand the differences between the thrashing exuberance of youth and the calmer take on life that comes with age and experience.
I am beginning to see the follies of maturity as well, in turn embracing and being inspired by the courage and curiosity of my children.
I am beginning to envision the end and in turn thinking about how I should begin preparing for it—Do I want to fall or roll downward? And if I choose the latter, am I willing to pull back on the reins of the frantic fears of my middle age?
I am beginning to realize what matters most to me is what has long mattered most to me: it is immaterial and will not be considered an asset when it comes time to file for divorce.
I am beginning to learn that I shouldn’t work so hard at those things that will prove irrelevant in the end and to work smarter at those endeavors that will.
I am beginning to know how to let go, especially as things and plans and people unexpectedly perish and no longer take part in our lives.
I am beginning to face adversity with a smile and a grin, more often than with a furrowed brow, tightened fists and chagrin—for life is only as hard as you want it to be.
I am beginning to feel calm among the storms, each one becoming slightly easier to weather, knowing I’ve been through it all before.
I am beginning to understand others more and more; thus, increasingly wanting to know less and less—subsequently, solitude and I are becoming best of friends.
And, I find, that truly, I am beginning to enjoy my life more than ever before.
Oh, and by the way, I checked: David Dinkins still lives. He turned twice my age (i.e. 80) this last July.
Thank you Triborough for sharing the photo above of Bill McCreary, David Dinkins, and John Roland taken in March of this year.
He reports that according to the Gothamist, Dinkins just had his appendix removed a few weeks ago.
Guess I’m doomed, considering I had mine removed long before him, at the age of 32, on Valentine’s Day 1999.
Forthcoming! 25 Lessons: The Art of Living, to be published by Cyan Books in February 2008.
Until then, I’m happy to share with you the original 25 musings.