How old are you and how do you feel about your age, aging, your future?
When your regrets exceed your hopes you know that you are old, no matter your calendar age.
Your hopes are your life when young — hopes for a happy marriage, career, kids — all the trappings of the good life. You have not lived long enough to harbor regrets.
Then, oops. Your marriage dissolves into a cauldron of recriminations and you join the army of the disillusioned divorced. You realize that the career you wanted died a painful death as the global economy evolved.
I am a robust 89. Divorced but both of us rebounded. Changed career and became happy and prosperous. I still harbor many regrets of what could have been, surely tied for the most useless of emotions with worrying about the future.
So I try, at times unsuccessfully, to count my considerable blessings and achievements. I have four kids and six grandkids with whom I communicate regularly and are healthy and prosperous; business associates around the world who work toward our mutual success in publishing; a part-time lover who shares my passions for wine, music, literature and for treating each other with kindness and dignity; many erudite friends with diverse interests; seventeen books with my name on the covers and two more on the runway;; and hundreds of appreciative students at my writing classes and lectures. I hope I have improved the lives of others, and many of my students and readers tell me that I have. Just last week a student upped my happiness and ego when he wrote:
I got an award at work for being the best writer in marketing (and my boss sent me to your class to improve my skills) and I have been writing for fun, as well as for work, ever since. I am in your debt.
My future, of course, is truncated and I behave accordingly. I am finishing the manuscript of a book titled More Glad than Sad, a memoir that is a series of anecdotes and essays that have mostly made me happy. Writing it has opened new levels of gratitude.
I also have conceptualized a new book on leadership and ethics (perhaps the boldest of oxymorons) that I will co-author with a former president of a major manufacturer and lecturer at twenty-one universities.
It’s anybody’s guess that I — or you, for that matter — will see either book on Amazon. I hope we do, of course, proving that I am still young enough to hope, or perhaps proving that there is no fool like an old fool.