Having reached my eighth decade recently, I began spending more time than usual doing something, I suppose, most 70 year old people do. Reminiscing. And, not be be morbid about it, coming nose-to-nose with my mortality.
I’ve been retired from an exhilarating broadcasting career for nearly four years. Retirement, I have concluded, is a great concept. Following the advice of many experts on age, I’ve kept busy: chairing a communications advisory committee for a local university, serving on the board of trustees for our regional, Actors Equity, professional theater, vice-president of the board of trustees for our county arts council, that sort of thing. As you may deduce from the picture above, I also launched a small voiceover business, concentrating on narrating audiobooks. I’ve completed nine of them, so far, all available on Amazon.com, Audible.com and iTunes.
One thing I haven’t done, at least in retirement, is something my friends, colleagues, my wife, my sister, even my parents when they were still on this earth encouraged me to do. Write. “When are you gonna write a book?” they would exclaim. “You traveled the world, watched history in the making, had so many experiences! You should write a book!”
I’ve made a couple of fits-and-starts about doing that. Somewhere in my computer files are the beginnings of a couple of books. One is a piece of fiction based on my family’s ancestral history. The other is sort of a memoir. But it has been weeks since I looked at either. Its seems odd to me that there they sit, collecting whatever the equivalent of dust is in the bits and bytes of a computer. After all, that’s what I did professionally for 47 years, write. I wrote for radio and television. I wrote about wars, about economics, about farmers and cars and factory workers and heroes and villains and politicians and human folly. I wrote about disasters and recovery, about soldiers and terrorists, about weather and crime and space and young people and senior citizens. I wrote news. What I didn’t write, and haven’t written, is a book.
Writing a book takes discipline. More discipline, perhaps, than I have in this retired life I live. But blogging? That is something else, I suspect. For my 70th birthday, my wife gave me a book entitled “70 Things You Can Do When You Turn 70.” It contains seventy essays brimming with advice from various authors about how to stay vibrant and relevant in this long, last stretch of life. One of those authors, Judy F. Kugel, Associate Dean of Students at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, advises “Write Your Life.” That is the title of her essay. Judy says when she was about to turn 70 she wanted to “document the coming decade.” So, she started a blog to “share the ups and downs of aging.” She blogs (yet another new verb) twice a week and finds the exercise immensely gratifying. She tells me in her essay, “So, go ahead and join the 200 million people blogging. Blog about what interests you.”
OK, Judy, I will. And, this is the beginning. Who knows where it will lead? Maybe to a whole book?