A TGB Reader Story: Hope On Top of the World
Elder Guardianship

Elders: Taking Stock of Our Lives

If you live long enough, it's inevitable: you will, in one form or another, do some stock-taking of your life. A sizing up. An account balancing. Or a simple, “how'm I doing?”

There is no particular time or year of life when it comes along. In fact, I think for some it is an ongoing monitor that pops up now and then all through adulthood. But in later years, it becomes more urgent.

Even moreso, as I learned recently from personal experience, when a life-threatening or “just” a serious illness interrupts the steady flow of days. Then a reckoning feels important.

For me and a few others I've spoken with about this, it usually begins with a narrative of one's life.

I never had big plans for mine – actually, I never had any plan. I have a strong memory of a certain day in my mid-teens realizing it was highly unlikely I would grow up to cure cancer. Teens do that sort of grandiose thinking but even then I knew I didn't have the wherewithall for saving mankind.

When college decisions were at hand, I had no earthly idea what I wanted to study and not a single thought about what I wanted to do with my life.

You'll recall that in those days, late 1950s, girls were expected to get married and have babies which a goodly number of my classmates did within a week or two of graduation.

I knew that wasn't for me so I went to work at a typing job. And then another. And another.

It never came to mind to note that I didn't have a real career. No one told us girls back then that a formal, planned career might be an option.

Everyone understood that we could be office workers and waitresses or, if we went to college, teachers and nurses. Women doctors and lawyers hardly existed in those days so most of us didn't think in those terms.

After seven years of pounding keyboards, I married and became the producer of my husband's radio talk show. The 1960s, of course, were an exhilirating time of social upheaval and I booked musicians, political radicals, dissenters, women's movement and civil rights activists, politicians and more as we reported on and chronicled the zeitgeist of the times.

It became the number one talk show in New York City radio and then I moved on to produce television shows for 25 years. In an unexpected instance of great, good luck, I got in on the earliest days of the commercial internet as managing editor of the first CBS News website.

I wouldn't trade my “career” for anything. I met kings and queens and movie stars and heads of state. I worked with the best and the brightest in pretty much all areas of life – music, medicine, politics, art, entertainment, literature, science, fashion, theater and movies and more.

It was my job to learn something of what those people knew and help them make sense of it for television and, later, the internet. They, experts in their fields, were the college education I'd skipped and it has lasted all my life.

When I was forced into retirement 14 years ago, I had already begun this blog so all that changed, aside from loss of a paycheck, were more frequent posts and a shorter commute - from the bedroom to my home office.

Well, work was not quite all that changed. The biggest, most difficult outcome was the necessity to leave my home of 40 years, New York City, when – in the shock of a lifetime – I found no one hires 63-year-olds, particularly in technology. I had no idea then that ageism existed much at all until it happened to me, and certainly not that it was so widespread even among people younger than I.

Now I know and it hasn't gotten any better since then.

You'll note that I didn't mention another marriage or children. That's because there weren't any and unlike most of my life, they were deliberate decisions. Regrets? None about not having a child or two but there is a wonderful and brilliant man I probably should have married...

Certainly I've made varieties of poor decisions along the way, and you don't get to know the things I've said and done of which I'm deeply ashamed.

On the other hand, apparently my mom and dad instilled in me a decent sense of right and wrong, good and evil. In the particular political era of our time, I am regularly shocked out of my senses at the enormity of the lies, misdeeds, avarice, iniquities and crimes committed by almost every high-level elected official and appointee in our federal government.

I am grateful to know I'm am not capable of what they do, although I am fairly sure I can't take credit for it – it's just is.

Sometimes I think the way I made my living, mostly related to entertainment with some politics thrown in, was too frivolous – that I would be happier with myself at this age if I had chosen something of more benefit to the world and other people.

During this past year that I spent in close proximity to a lot of medical, health and hospital workers, I see they are put together differently from me. Their care, concern and patience is genuine, manifest every day with their unending kindness to cranky, tired, frightened, sick people who are often in pain and on their worst behavior.

I know me and I know I could never match the standard set by these amazing people who turn their entire working lives over to helping others. So it's just as well I did something else with my life.

Not that I actually made a choice. A few years after I had conceded to myself that I had no idea what I wanted from life, sometime in my twenties, I made a decision to just follow my nose and see where it would take me through the coming years. It didn't work out too badly.

Recently, I ran across a quotation from the musician Elton John that sums up my 77 years and continues to apply:

“If you let things happen, that is a magical life.”

“Let things happen” is, for me, just a nicer way of saying that I never bothered to choose how I wanted to live. I think that's a failing – a fairly big one - but not something I can fix now and anyway, my life has been close enough to magical to be okay.

Have you done any taking stock?


Comments

Good timing, Ronni. I have been trying to figure out what my life has meant and what can I do to make my remaining time count to something lately. I definitely want last years to be more positive than my 50’s.

"We are, who we think we are most of the time". You get up in the morning, look in the mirror, look, dress, and act like the person you want to be.
Make it happen! It's never too late.

I recall in high school my mother suggesting that I pursue one of 2 careers: bank teller or nurse! She was of the opinion that if you could trust someone with your money or your life, they were sure to be very good people!! So I chose nursing & worked as an RN for over 40 years. I did pursue graduate degrees at age 50 & have never regretted my choices. I would have changed some things but I was lucky to find love at first sight being married for 56 years.
At 81 years, I have been doing some looking back, but I've vowed to look fwd. if I can. My kids are urging me to try something new which is supposed to keep you young, but I must say doing nothing special each day isn't so bad. Good luck everyone:):)Dee

Hi Ronni,
Just change a few details and your story and mine are similar.
My mother made me take the commercial track in high school. She said, You'll work for a few years then you'll get married. She was the child of immigrants and her father took her out of school at age 12 and put her in business school for a year. She couldn't get a job at 13 so she went to high school for a year then her
father found her a job. She worked until she married. My father arrived in America about a month after turning 18. He went to school full-time till he found a part time job, then night school until he had to stop when he worked full time.

I had no plans at all in high school and don't even know if my high school
had advisers. A couple days before graduation, I was called into the office and
told after all the scholarships (there was such a thing as scholarships?) were given out, there were 2 leftover $100 scholarships for the local university.
Since I was a good student, I was given one. That's how I got into college.
Took me six years of part-time and on and off attendance till I graduated.
Then-what do you do with an English degree?

I took some ed courses and became a primary school teacher (I wanted to be the
tallest person in the room.) Eventually I found my way into ESL which was
the happiest place for me.

I'm not married. Was asked but at the wrong time in my life. Did have a long term relationship later on. I do regret not having children. But life is what it is.
I'm grateful. Now it's the time of coping with the different indignities that
plague the body and just keep trudgin'. I write poems and a lot of them deal
with death or the choice to "just keep trudgin' on".

I was never an ambitious person and am happy to read that others, like, I, kind of fell into their lives. When my first marriage failed, I went back to school (grad school) for something to do and got my teaching certificate along with my masters. I met a man building a boat to sail to Florida and went along for the ride. I have lived here ever since, over 30 years now. Couldn't get a teaching job (hiring freeze) so became a waitress for 20 some years, then became an Activity Director at a country club by happenstance and help from a friend.

As a child, I knew I wanted to be a mom with a big family; that was it. I ended up with one daughter and 3 grandchildren. The path one travels is intersected with other interesting paths.

I assumed I'd get married and have kids and be a stay-at-home mom just like every other girl at the time. But I also wanted a backup position in case I needed one. It never occurred to me not to go to college and I got a degree in journalism. Married right after college, had a son, and went to work when he was 5 or 6. I was definitely not a homemaker! (Two divorces settled that.)

I learned what ageism is when I was fired at age 55 and replaced with two very young, very blonde secretaries. Over the next two or three years, in two different job markets, I learned that I was apparently unemployable and resigned myself to retirement. At least that freed me to finally move to Colorado, a lifetime dream.

I took great pride and satifaction in my work but I've always considered my son my greatest achievement. Smart, hard-working, a great father to two beautiful children. And they live just a mile away. Had a little bout with breast cancer three years ago, but all in all, I'm pretty satisfied with the way things have turned out.

Yellowstone offered some great advice.

Thank you, Ronni, for your mini bio. It was so iteresting to read about your fascinating professional life, albeit not strategically planned. If TGB has any resemblance to the employed professional you were, you are (IMO) doing your most important gig now. thank you!

It's interesting to note that our indecision, decisions and life in general add up to what we become.
I too had the same lack of options upon finishing school, but I've had a wonderful, if pedestrian, life. To say "if only" negates the wonderful friends and acquired family that have become a golden part of my memories and current lifestyle.
I'm sure there are many out there who feel the same.

I wonder, Ronni, if you've considered a piece on ageism with regard to women in other cultures, including Western European. It seems to me that there seems to be less stigma in the UK. Notably Dame Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Dame Maggie Smith seem to have managed to maintain their careers without Botox, pinches and tucks.

I have employed and enjoyed a non-compulsive approach to my life,so far.I am inspired by Yellowstone's words and hope to improve on my art of living.

My parents were immigrants from Mexico and I came to the USA at age 6 months. As many others have mentioned, for cultural reasons, college was never mentioned to me. My mother (parents divorced when I was 7) made me take shorthand and typing in high school with the plan that I would work until I married.
I had no desire to marry early (having had a front seat to my parents union), so 2 weeks after high school graduation I went to Mexico City and enrolled myself in college. I never received a dime of support from either parent. I became an ESL teach for many years and then changed careers becoming a court interpreter and then a paralegal for the last 30 years of my work life. Being bilingual served me well in every job I ever had.
I married at 27 and have been married for 44 years; 2 step-kids, 2 biological kids, 6 grand-kids.
Like many, I wasn't encouraged to dream or plan a future, but I somehow found my way through life; stronger, and more independent than I might have been. If I had it to do over again, I would have become a nurse practitioner or a journalist. Maybe in another life.
I've had a passion for travel ever since that first trip alone at age 17 and was fortunate to marry a man who also was seeking adventure and we have had some magnificent trips. We have had to slow down because of my husband's health issues, and I have become a full time caretaker.
That has been something I never planned or prepared for, but who does? A very difficult transition with many ups and downs, but like many other women I talk to, we have no choice.
I have spent time looking back and wondering if I lived my best life. Of course, it's full of could of, should of, would of, but have decided to look forward and work on being kind, tolerant, giving, and patient, acknowledging that it's a daily struggle when some days I don't even want to get out of bed.

I had a very rewarding professional life: a lawyer, turned college professor, turned gerontologist. At 72 I'm retired.
My three children have always been my greatest joy and delight, the center of my life. And suddenly and unexpectadly, my eldest son died last year. Every achievement of my life paled before this shattering event.
When I take stock of my life I can see it was a good and fulfilling life. Until now. It is like a void and nothing I've done before compensates for my present loss. And there is nothing I can do about it.

I've been reflecting on this lately and sent in a story encompassing an incident I observed in my building and then read your post. I was asked to participate in a panel on Friday to discuss what offices were like to work in for females in the mid seventies.

Then I read your post on your work history. A magical and fulfilling trajectory indeed even though you had to move away from your beloved New York.

I have to say I am happy as to where I've wound up though I never would have anticipated it in a million years, thus living Elton John's adage to wear the world like a loose garment basically. I recently celebrated 75 years on the planet and am finding some new opportunities opening up creatively for me.

XO
WWW

The idea that we should all develops a “life plan” by our late teens or early twenties is even more useless than most management consulting and HR-required inservices. They must be products of the same marketing strategists.

My life unfolded with no plan. My mother always told me that I had to finish college, so when I graduated from college I figured I had fulfilled “the contract.” What happened after college was never discussed- she probably hoped I would meet a husband at school and follow the fifties expectations.

That didn’t happen. I worked a few secretarial/administrative jobs until I was hired at the local food co-op. That was when I remembered that at age 18 I volunteered at a local food co-op and had loved it. That was what I wanted to do!

I retired in 2014 after 33+ years as part of a team that grew the co-op from 25 employees in an old convenience store to three stores, a restaurant, and a regional produce warehouse, and employs over 300. The membership must be well over over 20,ooo by now. We helped build the infrastructure for a regional/local food system.

Proud? Absolutely. My mother never understood it. No one in her generation in the Midwest wanted their college-educated offspring to become grocers, warehouse workers, truck drivers, or farmers. But we bucked their expectations and, with like-minded folks all across the country, developed what is now a thriving natural food industry.

My biggest contribution to the world is wonderful son we raised. He is warm, funny, generous, practical, employed, and he brought us a wonderful DIL home from college.

I am done with doing. At least, doing for its own sake. After decades of working and home-making and child rearing, I love waking up to minimally planned days. My little dog is my personal trainer- he needs well over an hour of daily walking. I am available for much older neighbors and friends who need rides or assistance reading their mail, or just need someone to talk with on the phone for a few minutes every few days. Beyond that, I cook and read and catch up on decades of movies and music, and enjoy time with my husband and a few long time friends. Life is good.

I, like you Ronni, did not make plans for my life; I just let it happen. And I, like you again, see it as a huge failing on my part. When the marriage I entered and expected to last until my death failed after 16 years, that was the first big surprise.

Regretfully, I only completed 2 years at college. This greatly impacted work/career choices and income, and this was keenly felt after my divorce. Another surprise; much less income and not great prospects to increase my income. I purposely chose to not have children, and I have no regrets. The world is still full of unloved, homeless, needy children, and I could have adopted had I so desired. I changed work/career paths more than once, but my biggest change/surprise came at age 56. Illness forced me to apply for Social Security Disability, and I was unable to work. That truly diminished my income, and greatly altered (not in a good way) my expectations of the future.

I am 70 now, and since having to quit work at age 56, I have had a great deal of time to ponder my life, existence in general, and face my regrets and the future. This has been compounded by having 6 people near and dear to me die within the past 5 years. I am still dealing with a chronic illness which causes me to be isolated most of the time from family and friends. Despite all, I try to find the good in my life; however, I must admit that it becomes more difficult as the months and years pass me by.

The first time I took stock of my life was when I signed up to attend my high school's 50th reunion. We were asked to send in a short bio of our life. When I started to write I realized that nothing in my life was out of the ordinary. I married had children, was a stay-at-home mom and I had nothing to say.

So I wrote a fantasy story of writing the great American novel, finding the cure for cancer, performing as a classical pianist touring in Europe. All of the things I had wanted to accomplish when I was a teenager dreaming of my future.

It's rather sad when you look back on your life and realize that none of the dreams of youth came to pass, but I have no complaints. All in all, it was a good life and I did live through the best of times and survived the Great Depression, World War II and other personal calamities as they enfolded.

Now I have the surprising blessing of more years to enjoy life than I ever expected. Hope is for those younger than I, but I am able to hope that they are as lucky as I have been.

Ronni, you are incredible. I'm so glad that I looked for and found your blog when I thought I'd lost it and you. You have given me so much and now your mini bio. Yes, I have been stocktaking and basically, I'm quite glad with what I see. I have to thank my mother for my career. When she divorced my father, she looked for another husband and returned to her country (Mexico). So after my first marriage didn't work out at 18, I pretended I was 22, had a HS degree (I didn't), knew a helluva lot more than I did, and started a 30-year career in advertising in NYC. Lived on both coasts of the US as well as the Midwest, in England and in Mexico. My father told me what I should expect to earn in London, so I asked for more and got it. Ended up as an account executive at McCann-Erickson and from there, it just kept getting better. Married again, had two kids and supported them in style. When I thought it was all over, a new career awaited me at 57. Ageism does exist but it's like everything else - you have to combat it! I finally retired at 70. Decided it was time to concentrate on my writing. Been waiting since I was 8. I already have two books under my belt and a couple more on the sidelines. And in December, I'll celebrate 50 years married - though we were separated for a long time. In my case, you can have your cake and eat it!

My grandson is turning 17 tomorrow. I am very proud of him... he has been struggling with ADHD, and is starting to get a handle on managing it himself. As he was growing up, I've always been the subversive Grandma, the fellow nerd in the family who understood why he needed a few more minutes with Minecraft.

This year I can't spend time with him in person. I was trying to figure out what to say to him in a birthday email.

Maybe just this: that most people looking back on their lives realize that despite any grand plans they might have had, things just happened one after another.

I'm not even sure that having a Grand Plan for Life is a net positive. If you don't achieve your goal, if you have to settle for a more modest result, isn't that guaranteed to make you feel like a failure? But maybe it works out for you. Hurray! You get where you planned to be. You celebrate. It feels good. And... then what? Now you have to invent a new reason to get out of bed.

I like the idea that "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans." (Although I know them from John Lennon's song they actually were first written by Allen Saunders in 1957.) If I accept that notion then not having ever made plans means I didn't waste my time!

I have to keep telling myself I'm 71 because the inner me doesn't believe it. To outsiders I've led the stereotypical life of a woman my age. My father had the most influence on the career path I supposedly chose -teaching, I married and had 2 children, lived overseas for several years before returning to Australia. I've never made any stupendous discoveries, created masterpieces or inspired World Peace.

These days I justify my time on earth by planting things, hoping I'll leave my little bit if earth better than it was before I arrived.

I think so much of life is just plain luck - the unplanned things that happen and sometimes turn your life around. But I've lived a small, safe life. And I find at this old age that it suits me. What the heck....in my next lifetime maybe I'll take a few more chances.

I did not feel ready to get married or have children until I was 38. By then, it was too late. I met my fiance at age 45. He was the light of my life. We shared many interests and he made me laugh. He passed away unexpectedly and suddenly. I have regrets but I did my best under the circumstances. I'm not saying I was perfect, just that I was honest and true to myself & with others. I know my limits. I am still learning to be a better person each and every day.

I think you are lucky, Ronni, to have a career at a time when high school grads could still make it in this world based on merit. You had a remarkable life and still do. Thank you.

I became who I truly am after my husband passed. I am finding "me" and what I stand for and evaluating my life and find it was just an average life...no great career, no claim to fame, but that’s all ok. Being me, doing as I please, when I please ...all the pieces falling together is all the taking stock I need.
My only true regret is wishing I was "me" when I was younger, but maybe that’s more often the case as we gain insight, maturity and to some degree freedom as we age. I have no angst about aging and in fact, I relish it. I am free.

I often think we overestimate our ability to shape our lives. So much of what we do is determined by our unconscious, and even when we are making decisions and plans we usually don't know the deep, powerful reasons behind them. And life has a funny way of happening to you despite yourself. I love the old saying, "Man makes plans, God laughs". But sexism then and ageism now are real negative factors for we boomers that we had and continue to have to overcome. I am now struggling not to pinch the noses of condescending young doctors and nurses. Or even not-so-young ones. I treasure being a curmudgeonette.

Conciencao, I just saw your comment. Please know you have my deepest sympathy for the death of your son. I only have one child, and I think if he predeceased me it would be more than I could bear. I truly feel for you.

I've decided that I've probably been far too vocal in sharing some of my opinions so guess what? Most of what I would say has already been said--so I won't say it. "Life happened" and it is what it is.

I have had several big challenges over the course of my life. Not every choice was a winner and not every effort was successful. I disappointed a lot of people who deserved better.

I am bipolar and wasn't diagnosed until 15 years ago. It was hard to come to terms with the fact that I can't always trust my own judgements. On the other hand, I finally had an explanation for many of my bad decisions. Once I got stabilized on meds, my life began to make sense. I was able to stay at one job until retirement, find a good man to love and build a life with, and come to terms with my own limitations.

I am content at 70. I did the best I could with what I had. It wasn't perfect. It was often disappointing. Some people were better off that I was around. Some people would doubtless have had better lives if I hadn't. I could be angry about the challenges I have faced, but the last 15 years have been awesome. I married a terrific man. We retired a couple of years ago. We have what we need.

When the time comes, I will die a happy man. Life is good and getting better

Recently, while driving around the city from one volunteer job to another, I realized what a wonderful life I have lived and am living. Oh, regrets, sure. I would do a few things differently, but God has blessed me and I will continue to enjoy every day of life until He calls me home.

I was extremely disappointed when I retired early from teaching with plans to work for non-profits in the area of social media marketing only to find no one would hire me. They were happy to have me volunteer, but pay for my skills, no, that wasn't going to happen. Now, I'm glad I don't have a paid job and can come and go as I wish. Things do work out for the best.

Recently had the bizarre experience of trekking around the Australian outback for ten days with Erudite Partner -- and a mixed crew of 10, mostly millennial, Australian and European comrade adventurers. On any topic of conversation, if EP or I (66 and 71 respectively) had something to throw in, we'd refer to some job or some experience which suggested our particular insight. After a few days, the younger folks kept exclaiming: "you've had such wonderful lives."

To which we began to reply: "Not exactly. We're old. So we've just had time to do a lot of things."

Yes, I've had a wonderful, sometimes socially meaningful, life but mostly I've just lived a lot of years and done a lot of things. I enjoy reflecting on it all ...


When I was a kid, I read a lot. Horse stories were a favourite. Often the storyline involved a wild horse, which inevitably had to be tamed by the human hero/heroine of the piece. I hated that. I always sided with the horse. NO, don't let them tame you! Run, run. But always the horse would be tamed and I would throw down the book in disgust and stomp outside to kick rocks.

When I was 16 or 17, I announced to the world in general and my family in particular, that I was never going to get married (show me one marriage that actually works) and also I was never going to have children (why would I want to spend my life changing diapers and wiping noses). I didn't dislike children; I just didn't think they were very interesting. And certainly not compared to the Grand Plans I had for my life.

At 18 I left home for university and in the process met a man, a friend-of-a-friend. We all hung out together and drove to the campus every morning in his little red Mini-Minor. On one of those days, a calm little voice inside my head informed me "This is the man you're going to marry". "Dream on" I replied. When he proposed, I explained to him that I didn't believe in marriage and had never seen a marriage that I would want to be part of.

Nevertheless, at age 20 I found myself married to him. We are still married.

At 21 I became a mother. It was an accidental pregnancy. I resigned myself to the numbing news and told myself I would do my best, even though my life was now clearly ruined (way to go, Self. You're 21 and you've already wrecked your life). Then he was born. And every idiotic thing I'd ever told myself was blown out the window. I adored him. I couldn't imagine how it was even possible to love anyone/anything this much. Nothing else mattered at all compared to this.

And it still doesn't. Which is pretty much how I learned that I haven't the faintest idea what's good for me, or what my life should look like. Never even mind the Grand Plan which I should supposedly be striving towards.

It got me pondering about the mysterious intersection between free will and what-life-hands-you. Maybe it's different for each of us?

For my own life, it appears I'm mostly free to make my own wild-horse choices and kick against the societal expectations of what I should do and how I should behave. And I do that. I march to my own drummer. I flout social rules and expectations without a qualm, whenever they interfere with my personal space and my personal freedom. I do believe, almost like a religion, in being kind, in being generous. But I resist any attempts to tell me how I should go about that. Eccentric. Not a team player, apparently.

But every once in a while, there's that calm little voice that says "Not this time. This is the path you're taking now". I still fight it. But not with as much conviction anymore. I always lose.

*****

And then there's that other thing: personal tragedy. We've had a lot of that in my family of origin and now in my grown-up extended family too. Deaths of children. Deaths of young mothers. Catastrophic illnesses, blowing apart lives that had seemed so perfect and on track and which (on the surface of things at least), ruin them for the rest of time, with hearts lying bleeding on the pavement.

It doesn't take very many of those experiences before you realize that you're not nearly as in charge as you might like to think. You're in charge of your reaction and response to the event, but not nearly so much to the event itself. (So if your life happens to be going swimmingly, Self, just be grateful. That could change at any moment and you'll be required to be stronger than you ever imagined or wanted to be).

So yeah. I agree with pretty much everybody here. Life is what you're handed . And what you decide to do with that.

It may or may not turn out to be "a magical life" as Elton John said. Probably not so much for most people. But it's still your life and you've done the best you could with what you had on hand at the time.


I constantly reflect on my life: my ineptness, my humiliations, my extreme uniqueness, my huge personal achievements, my improbable financial success, my catastrophic divorce, my long-term extremely successful second marriage, my two nice boys, and finally I have tried to find some clinical diagnosis for how I am--and came to understand myself and how in the hell I got to this island of contentment and personal success against high odds (at least I was considered very good looking and that helped and/or carried me--doors are opened by it which is a fact, albeit a sad commentary for us humans). It's been one strange journey and now, looking back, while not wanting to go through the gauntlet which was my life, at least now I THINK I figured out the details of the hand I was dealt and how I was able to keep moving forward (following my nose) and ending "Jelly-Side up".

I could go through the details, chapter by chapter, but I'll spare you and your readers the this likely monotony. I will close by saying that I truly respect the conventional intelligence of this blog, you Ronni, and the comments. I could never hold my own with such obvious intelligence and conventional personalities and their implementations without "smoke and Mirrors" and relying on a "cult of personality". Until finally I have learned that I operate on an intuitive basis and it's internal and has to be applied nearly in private resulting in choices and strategies that nobody can nearly grasp. It has worked out well, but it has been a bumpy road. Luck was a major factor--maybe divine providence, a sprit guide involved, or let's say pure luck at worst. All of this gleaned through many, many hours of reflection, often at night as I drift off to sleep, but intermittently throughout the day, having intensified since I turned about 60 and continuing, although the major conclusions have now been made with occasional nuggets of understanding now and then.


John

I spent my first ten years sickly, bedridden, and weak. I was told by the family "doctor" I would not live past 25. Plan life accordingly. I left home at 14 and finished high school, the only one of blood in my family to do so. I spent a few years at college, but saw no point. I really wanted to see the world in the little time I was told I had left. I became a factory rep and used my expense account well. I really traveled this country. I probably reached an apogee when I became Mayor of a small town. Then that career and life ended. I was 32. I realized I might live longer than 25. I stopped my chain smoking and doping. I somehow joined the military, served 21 years in 3 branches, and saw the world. I completely changed careers. Funny, in looking back now I actually lived two lives: one with a death sentence and a real one. I married 3 times, this one almost 30 years now. No children ever, too much hedonism. I am still working and will retire at 70+. As I recently told a young associate:
"I have written my book, you still have yours to write". I am at peace on a beautiful piece of property and have a sympathetic partner to share with. To me, life is still evolving and a challenge. I took stock at 33 and made a major directional change, personally and in my career. I only regret the years I wasted serving my "sentence".

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