Keep up your own interests. That's one of my Notes to Self (see list to the right). My point when I added it to My Notes was--and still is--that the more we continue to pursue our interests (apart from our children's lives) the livelier our conversations with our grown children and our grandchildren will be. We won't be hounding them with deadly questions like "What's new?" We'll have something to bring to the table and talk about. The energy we get from actively pursuing a job, project or Zoom lecture will freshen up both us and our interactions.
I was reminded of this by Kathy Gottberg. In a blog post she took note of a book, A Brief Eternity—The Philosophy of Longevity by Pascal Bruckner, an author who has written a ton of books critiquing society and culture. Deep stuff. Gottberg admits the book is a tough slog that wades its way through deeply philosophical waters. To save us the work of wading, she sums up what she gleaned from the book. As I read her post, I was reminded of my Note to Self and how what Bruckner via Gottberg has to tell us about this stage in our lives is ever-relevant.
Here's an excerpt from Gottberg's post:
If I had to boil down this complex study into a short paragraph I would ask: Now that we typically live longer and have been given an extension to our lives, what do we want to do with it? Calling this extra time an “Indian Summer,” Bruckner claims that all the great questions of the human condition appear in the years after we turn 50 including:
- Is it more important to us to live a long time or more intensely?
- Do we carry on as we have always done or try new things and follow new paths?
- Do we find new love? Leave old ones? Start new careers?
- How do we move beyond great joys and great pains—and keep going?
- How can we avoid the weariness of living, the melancholy of the twilight years?
- What is the strength that keeps us going despite bitterness and excess?
Buckner offers insights found in the form of literature, philosophy, the arts as well as his own observations. Peppered throughout the text are lines that illustrate his ideas and offer insights that kept me reading. For example he asks: “What reasons can we give for living fifty, sixty or seventy years? Exactly the same ones we give for living to twenty, thirty or forty. Existence remains delicious to those who cherish it, odious to those who curse.”
In another place he says, “What remains to be done when we think we’ve seen everything, experienced everything? Constantly beginning over…Life goes on: that frightfully simple sentence is perhaps the secret of a happy longevity.” And another statement dear to my heart, “We are always living on a trial basis; existence is above all an experiment.”
painting: Two Women, Degas