In looking back at the last couple of posts, one particular line about my mortality whacked me upside the head. When I originally wrote the columns, I was both angry and sad about how our society, culture, and politics have slithered into muddy depths. As I reread them, I recognized they were tinged with another emotion: frustration.
I meant absolutely everything I wrote, but I now realize how mad, sad, and frustrated I was and am because I have watched many of my hopes and dreams hit the shitter. I’d known for years that Ronald Reagan really had pulled off a ‘revolution’ against what little was left of The Great Society. And that every following president allowed Reagan’s revolution to keep on keeping on. That’s right, every president, Republican and Democrat. Let’s not forget Clinton proposing that Chicago police enter apartments in the Cabrini Green housing projects without warrants, and Obama’s use of drones
Perhaps even worse than the egregious political acts that have been perpetrated in the name of the War On Terror is the horrible divide I see within our country. It’s loud, nasty, overt and, when virtually any social issue hits the airwaves, the divide becomes flashing neon. It was certainly there during the Vietnam War as well, but not nearly as broad-based, harsh, and multi-issue’d as it is these days. From where I sit we’re engaged in a significant civil war that no one can win. And it saddens me to find myself thinking that way.
But if I’m going to be honest on these pages, I also have to admit that some of my rage, sadness, and frustration have to do with the Golden Years not being very golden. In last year’s NOW I’M 64 post, http://zacharykleinonline.com/personal-experience/484/, I mentioned I had traditionally looked at the stages of life through the philosophical lens of Ortega y Gasset, who more or less divided them as:
1. Childhood, age 0-15
2. Youth, ages 15-30.
3. Initiation, ages 30-45
4. Dominance, ages 45-60.
5. Wisdom, ages 60 and up.
Now I know that Ortega y Gasset omits an important something. Reality. Unless he encompasses old age under his rubric of “Wisdom.”
I could list the age complaints, but I’d sound like an old Jew sitting with friends around the dinner table kvetching about all our physical ailments. (Uhh, wait a minute, I am an alta cocker who does sit with friends around the dinner table while we complain about our physical ailments). But instead I’ll use just one example.
The Squeeze. Above you the pressure of parents who are very old, infirm, dying, or dead that you care or cared for. Below you, but rising, are the kids, if you have them. No matter their age, you still feel the concern, anxiety, and fear about what life in this world, in this country, at this time, will deliver. Hence The Squeeze.
Somehow this wasn’t what I anticipated, though had I given reality more consideration, it probably wouldn’t have come as a surprise.
How foolish to imagine the Golden Years meant The Life of Riley. Or the carefree existence of travel and living in different parts of the world for a few months at a time, all the while continuing to write, practice my sax, and, when I was around at home, play softball. (The last should have been a harbinger when I blew my shoulder out on the ball field—but, alas, it wasn’t. I must have been blinded—by Oxycodone and alcohol).
I have no plans to curl up and cry when I turn 65. In fact, I’m eager for it to come so I can qualify for Medicare and get out from under a $700.00 dollar a month health insurance bill. But my expectations for these Golden Years have diminished, which, in the scheme of things might not be so bad given I usually deal okay with reality. But I can’t deny the hurt of no longer being able to hope for a much better and fairer world. And, to a lesser degree, whatever my personal losses might be given old age and The Squeeze.
But, like the man says, “It is what it is,” and I could always take a punch.
The trouble with young writers is that they are all in their sixties. ~ W. Somerset Maugham