Archive for March, 2013

Letter From New York

March 27, 2013

Letter From New York

March 26, 2013

Or, as it seems to me…


It is Sunday, early evening.  The days have grown longer; the sun sets slowly in the west on a day, mostly gray, in the Hudson Valley, a quiet weekend for me.  Friday I arrived at the cottage, fell asleep watching video on my ROKU box, woke to a Saturday that was errand filled and capped by friends for dinner.  Today, Sunday, Palm Sunday for those who follow the liturgical calendar, the Sunday before Easter, was a day of long rest, waking, coffee, TIME Magazine in the morning, the NEW YORKER over brunch at the Dot while everyone else labored over the NY Times Crossword Puzzle.

At Odyssey, it is a time of strategic planning.  I feel data flowing out my ears, having looked at it from so many different ways I understand why down looks like up to me.  Sun comes wafting through the clouds now and again and I feel like that’s a bit of the metaphor for life right now – sun breaking through the clouds now and again.

Strategic Planning feels like that, too.  Sun coming through clouds, once and again, while struggling over a past to make sense of a future, a healthy exercise most organizations go through now and again.  And, in the midst of it, it causes one [namely me] to think strategically about my own life; a thing we should do now and again.

Undeniably middle aged, I must look at the next act of my life, think where I might want to be and all the answers to that question seem to be here.  To the here I have created over the last twelve years, in a home I have owned longer than any other, this little cottage overlooking the Claverack Creek, a small and cozy shelter.  Thankfully, all on one floor, minimal maintenance, all the things one looks for as one grows – older.

Older.  What a powerful word that is in a world that worships the sun-kissed golden youth of potential immortality that is inherent in the celebrity obsessed world of early 21st Century, not just in North America but in the industrialized west; we have become glued to goings on of people like the Kardashians who have perfected the art of being famous for being famous.  They make Paris Hilton look like a piker; they, too, will be followed by someone else who will be even more famous for being simply famous, someday.

I was standing at the pharmacy counter waiting for a prescription [another reality that hits the undeniably middle aged] and looked over the tabloid magazines clustered near the check out register and wondered:  WHO are these people?  Most of them, it seemed to me, were famous for being famous or having done one thing that they continued to trade upon to keep them famous.

This is not, you understand, a new phenomenon.  It’s been with us for quite some time – it just seems it has become more of an art form.  And it makes me laugh somehow.

Because while all of this is going on, there are those who don’t ascribe to the culture of fleeting fame, but are looking, in this, the early days of the 21st Century, for something deeper.  Folks my age, who have had the glitter and the glory, who have stopped and gone:  yes, but I need to know the meaning of my life.

And there are younger people like my nephew Kevin, who seeks to make a contribution and isn’t caught in the allure of the glitter and the glory, making an investment in education both for his future and the future of the rest of us, for he will be helping to shape all our futures.

When I feel despair [just look at Congress], I pause and think of the engaged, seeking to make things better.  When it seems nothing has changed, I look at issues that were unspeakable fifty years ago that are now common conversation [gay marriage] and know that the world evolves.

It is a grossly imperfect world.  It always has been.  The powerful and mighty always seem too mighty and powerful.  Economic inequality seems to exist and yet seems, to me, so much less than a century ago.  War still rages but we haven’t blown up the planet.  Tendrils of hope still grope for life all over the world. 

It is imperfect.  But hope has not died.