Is this a good year or a great year? Any year without any real or imagined furthering of my medical paranoias is a good year. This year witnessed my lowest PSA and cholesterol values in years! This year witnessed the least number of foot injuries of the last five thanks to excellent medical care by Ken Arakawa and the medicinal benefits of colchicine. This year witnessed the improvements in my chronic cough as well as reaffirmation that my lung function and lung anatomy are normal according to the most basic testing methods. I suppose, I could go through a litany of other tidbits of good news and note the status of every bodily function but that would cause mass exodus from this blog. Moreover, I cannot reveal the defects in activity and function of the more embarrassingly sensitive organs. Even if I did, it would only satisfy the morose curiosity as few would be surprised or titillated by the organ dysfunctions and travails of a 70-year-old male. But aside from the inevitable age related apoptosis, as I think about it, with this amount of good fortune, it already qualifies 2016 as a great year. But there is more.
Yes, this is a Great Year! I am healthy and I continue to travel the world – 18 trips total! Great Britain, South Africa, Mozambique, Canada – western & eastern, Vietnam twice (which everyone know I love very much), the Caribbean, Spain, Portugal, Morocco and many cities in the US – San Francisco, Seattle, San Jose, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Cleveland, New York City, Washington DC, etc, etc. Only one trip was for work and I even attended the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. And I’ve planned for even more exciting trips/cruises for next year thanks to the prompting of two interested friends who are willing to share their experiences in the artic (Svalbard) and all the way down to Antarctica. Indeed, next year I have too many cruises (five), those mentioned above, one dance cruise to Chile and Peru, one with my sisters that cruises from the Canada to the north-eastern US beginning in Quebec City, and one on the west coast – Los Angeles to Vancouver. I am going to Vietnam at least twice and maybe travel to a contiguous country like Laos for a few days. I travel to ski at least twice a year and next year will be no exception. I will travel to visit my children. Some trips are casual and stark, some are elegant and decadent, some are adventuresome, some are for sport, and some are social and poised. With some, my job is to trek and explore and observe, e.g., Svalbard, with others it is to listen, and converse and dance, e.g., Crystal Cruises and then there are those for skiing. Many more cities in the world will be left with my footprint. At this point, I have at least 14 trips planned for next year with one in the process. And maybe even a third trip to Vietnam will top it to 16.
Some Extraneous Verbiage. I live to savor the smell and taste of cities near and far, the people, the shops and streets, the hustle and bustle of those living their lives, those purposefully loitering the streets and others relaxed and enjoying the moment. To do so effectively, I have to accept the notion that I have invaded their privacy. But that allows me to dream for a moment what it would be like to be them or live among them. Cities in Spain are like those in Italy, with the old blending melodically with the new, having both the present and the past to savor and appreciate. You can never escape who you were - living with such history, and reminders abound in nearly every city, and cannot be avoided with an endless presence of beautiful ageless monuments of wood, stone and mortar, many in disrepair or perpetually being renovated. Contrast this with other cities even in beautiful countries like New Zealand that is only a few hundred years old and you will understand what I am trying to convey. And contrast this to the virtual world that most of our youth live in, and you will no longer wonder why they can be so easily mesmerized into foolish, dark and dangerous deeds.
I turned 70 years old this year and had nearly as many celebrations. They were truly meaningful. I hope to live several more decades but I think my next planned celebration for having lived any duration on earth will come IF I can make it to 100 years. Otherwise, I’ve had enough of birthdays. But turning seventy when most people would guess otherwise brings me great joy. Something I did was right, and while my parents also gifted me with many things, sharing their DNA was unquestionably the most cherished. My father lived to nearly 102, my mother not so lucky – 84 (too many pregnancies did not help), but her brother lived to 95 and her mother - my grandmother to 105. What’s more, they were all ambulatory and quick witted to the end. CNN posted in recent days a list of those well-known individuals from all walks of life that were lost in 2016. Some lived as little as two decades, some lived until nearly 100. Almost everything can be purchased by those with world fame and endless resources except the most important thing in life – life itself. I also lost some personal friends this year which is always a powerful reminder of the fleetingness of life, which seems to never linger long in one’s consciousness. How do many of us live life knowing that we will inevitably no longer exist sometime soon in the future – maybe tomorrow, maybe next year, maybe next decade…..?
I never expected to work until 70 but here I am still working part time. I come and go as I please but somehow find time to work from near and afar without my employers complaining. But my travel schedule has accelerated greatly these last few years and I can’t imagine how anyone would want to keep me on the payrolls. Still I thoroughly enjoy the role I have carved out for myself and wish to continue - at least for a few more years. At the very least, it keeps my mind sharp and is gratifying. In some ways, I enjoy working more than ever before indubitably because I no longer NEED to work. I am indeed a lucky man and a happy man.
To repeat, I am a happy man. Not every reason I am happy need be divulged. But I am a happy man because I have tried very hard to understand what makes me happy. Surprisingly, there are more remedies than roadblocks EVEN FOR A MAN OF 70. Skills that can no longer be achieved such as those on the dance floor must be accepted. I have to accept that I have reached the pinnacle of my dance skills. Its no fun to live in a world where the best you can do is the best you have done in the past. I felt the same way about tennis. I did not want to continue to play tennis when I could no longer become a better player. That’s just me. Others are satisfied with the status quo. Not I.
What Else Makes Me Happy? There is nothing insightful here. My family, my friends, my co-workers – as always relationships matter.
What Would I Wish for My Children and Their Children? I am saddened by the notion that as I enter the last chapters of my life that I will eventually be leaving my children and grandchildren in a more hostile and dishonest world than greeted me in my life. Presently I do not believe that they will live a better life than I have. What I wish for my children and grandchildren is that this belief in their future is INCORRECT and that they will indeed live a better life than God has bestowed me. Then I will be truly happy.
Final Thoughts. Well, was it worth the time and effort to write this blog? I believe its important to periodically catalogue the good and the not so good moments in a person’s life. I actually learned a few things recounting the events of the year in writing this blog. My initial euphoria in writing became heightened as I relived the events of my year of good health, good fortune, work, and travel. How often do we look back and congratulate ourselves for anything in life? Are we only relegated to be unnerved by adversity? We must periodically collect all of the memories of the past and relish those that bring us moments of happiness. Collect these moments and you will be a rich man or woman or person whichever fits the bill. Indeed!
Taken this season at the Halekulani Hotel