Friday, June 24, 2022

As I See It #8

Not surprisingly, I find today's decision to overturn Roe v Wade deeply disturbing.  Not surprising because if I had been commenting on this earlier in life my upset would be the same.

Which brings me to the question: How much are our opinions firmly in place long before we get old?

In my case I would say that at the most basic level, my feelings of right and wrong, what I stand for, my orientation in the world, are much the same as they were 60 or 70 years ago.  I can see a few changes.  For example, from a political point of view I am less to the left and more in the middle than when I was a young man.  But fundamentally I don't see much change.

My expectations about how things will turn out are lower now than in the past, which leads to pessimism or even cynicism.  I am more likely to be a curmudgeon.  But when I get to that place what kicks in is the realization that being a cynic doesn't help fix whatever it is that is upsetting me.  So I tend to moderate my pessimism or cynicism.

I could say that I've become a more thoughtful old man.  But even so, something like overturning Roe v Wade is depressing in the extreme.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

As I See It #7

The Warriors are champions for the fourth time in the last eight years.  Go Warriors!

I watched every minute of the playoffs and found myself caring a lot about how we were doing.  Notice that I say "we."  I've always been amused by how easy it is to attach our ego to the teams we root for.  So "who I am" is at much at stake as whether the team wins or loses.  It is personal.

The question is whether this ego identification changes as we grow older.  Does my passion diminish as I see the world from a more mature perspective?  Answer: No!  Based on my recent experience as a Warriors fan, I can get as worked up about how "we" are doing as I did in the past.

So go Warriors!  Go Giants!  But don't go 49ers.  They went on my shit list when with bad management they became losers and abandoned San Francisco for a move to Santa Clara.  Seemed like betrayal to me.  

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

As I See It #6

I'm asking myself how much my attitude toward various things is affected by my age.  For example, I've noticed that when I read about climate change and how much the temperature is going to rise, say, by the year 2050, a quiet internal voice tells me that I'll be long gone, so how much should I really care.

My enlightened default position is that I am a caring person so this should matter to me even if I'm long gone.  But notice, the question comes up whether I like it or not.

The same issue rears its ugly head as I observe what seems to be the inevitable demise of America as a successful democracy.  Our democratic institutions seem weak.  Our deadlocked partisan divide make solutions to our problems impossible.  It's easy for me to bemoan the path we are on, but then again my quiet internal voice wonders whether I should really care.  We've had a good run.  I've been the beneficiary of America being #1.

If I were 25, or even half my age, 45, would I be entertaining these thoughts?  I don't know for sure, but I doubt it.  A more relevant question is should I empower my quiet internal voice and check out or remove myself from the conversation because I won't be alive to live with whatever happens?  

The honest answer?  I don't know.  For now, I'll stay in the question and let the process unfold.

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

As I See It - #5

I've asked myself why, when I look at the world around me, I often come to the conclusion that it's going in the wrong direction.  Things look bad and they're getting worse.

Maybe I'm just out of date, a cranky old man.  That could be, but its not the whole story.  After all, I organized my life so that I had a chance to make a difference.  I was proud of my country.  I was an optimist.  I had high ideals and was willing to work hard to see them realized.

So, I ask myself, what happened?  Here's a possible answer:  I feel betrayed.  And feeling betrayed is a very strong emotion.  My youthful idealism has not come to pass.  Was I wrong way back then to have had my ideals?  If I wasn't wrong, is there some one or some thing to blame?

The world is the way it is these days, whether I like it or not.  So on the one hand its a waste of time and energy to complain about it.  On the other hand I can retain my ideals in the face of the way it has turned out.  From the perspective of today I can empower a feeling of hopelessness, which doesn't seem very useful, or I can be true to myself, irrespective of the circumstances outside of my bubble.

So at least for today that's what I choose.

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

As I See It - #4

Generations are labeled these days.  The most recent is Gen Z (born between 1995 and 2010).  Before Z are the Millenials, and then Gen X, and before X the Baby Boomers.  I'm before all of them, from the Silent Generation, those of us born between 1928 and 1945.  So I'm five generations older than today's children.

Its no surprise that I don't see today's world or interact with today's world as do the more recent generations.  Its actually more than a disconnect.  Its a chasm that's impossible to fathom.  Not intellectually, which is a chasm I can cross over.  I can understand what its like for a teenager these days.  But what I cannot do is live life as Gen Z'ers do.  I can't have the experience of seeing the world as they do, as using Social Media as they do, as communicating as they do.  For all this I can only be an outsider looking in.

So, like it or not, the paradigm through which I see the world is with the eyes of one who grew up and was molded by the Silent Generation.  Given that today's world is so totally different than it was in my youth, is it any wonder that I'm often appalled by what I see going on outside of my homebound bubble? 

Its not all bad.  I live in and participate in the world as it is today.  I love that technology has in many ways improved the quality of our lives.  Its more a sense of frustration when I realize that I will never walk a mile in the shoes of those who will dictate what the future will be.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

As I See It - #3

I'm not sure when being "old" begins.  For me it was sometime after I turned 65 and stopped working and 85, which was when I decided I went from "old" to "very old."  In retrospect it seems to have been a gradual process.

As I aged I didn't experience a dramatic physical event, like a stroke or heart attack.  But I was conscious that my strength and stamina were less than in the past.  I have been spared mental deterioration and dementia.  Even now, at 89, my cognition is good.

More obvious has been how I see life, how I live my life.  I was always driven to succeed, so I worked hard and organized myself to "make it."  No more!  Being old has given me freedom and relieved me of the need to "make it."  I call it a victory over the tyranny of the "shoulds."  In the past the shoulds had a lot of control.  I should do this.  I should do that.  There isn't much choice when the shoulds are in charge.  So being free from needing to respond to these demands has been a blessing.

One thing I noticed as I've lived as a "very old" man: I pay more attention to obituaries.  Not who has died or how, but how old they were.  Once in a while I'll see an obit for someone who was older than I am.  That's the exception.  Almost all are about people who were younger than I am when they died.  

Checking the obits when I read the morning papers is a sobering reality that I haven't tried to avoid.  It is a reminder that gratitude is the appropriate emotion as I live through the gift of another day.   

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

As I See It - #2

Again, this country is in mourning after the senseless slaughter of little kids and their teachers yesterday.

Again, there are cries of outrage from gun control advocates, parents of children who have died in past shootings and from average citizens who see this pattern of violence repeat itself one more time.  Victims in Buffalo from the last slaughter aren't even buried yet.

Taking steps to control the availability of guns would be good.  But with 300 million guns already in the hands of Americans do we really think we'll be able to put a stop to the carnage?  Not gonna happen.  If laws feared the most by Second Amendment advocates were put in place, or even the repeal of the Second Amendment, wouldn't change what is ingrained in American culture - violent behavior.

I just finished reading a book on the history of the American West.  From start to finish violence is the recurring theme.  Between Americans and the British, the French, the Mexicans.  Between Americans and Indians.  Between Americans with different religious beliefs.  Between Americans North and South.  It never ends.

So if violence is in our DNA, is there any hope that the future will be different than the past?  Not much.  Which is not to say that actions to mitigate the damage shouldn't be taken.  That would be a good thing.  But we shouldn't kid ourselves.  This is who we are.  Not part of our culture to be proud of.