A Word In Edgewise: Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow: Summer


A year ago, I escaped the worst of the July heat wave by having knee replacement surgery, recovering in an air-conditioned rehab facility. This year, conserving my remaining knee, I flew to California, just south of San Francisco, to visit an old friend from junior high. The Coast. Cool. Foggy. Where one lazes about the house in parkas and snuggles under comforters at night.

Neither of us watches television, so along with blissful temperatures we enjoyed blessed, stress-free silences punctuated only by the foghorn’s soothing call and our spirited conversations.

And what was there to talk about for ten long summer days? Not unexpectedly, at our age, the subject of mortality cropped up with some frequency. We are slouching towards our respective 50th college reunions in 2013—less than a year hence—and while as a reporter I had occasion to interview alums on their Harvard 50ths, my own achieved half-century is rather daunting.

What, for example, can we reasonably attempt to accomplish in our unknown allotted times? How athletic can we be—skidding over the slippery rocks of the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve begged that question. How, while we’re still mobile, do we design an endgame that will see us off before having to relocate to a refrigerator box under a bridge? The Golden Gate would provide an awesome view, but…

Back in Minnesota, where temperatures now appear to be measured in Celsius, I’ve been pondering these conversations as I quaff quarts of ice water in front of a battery of fans, reminding my autonomic system to keep on pumping the air in and out.

I experienced a lovely visit, but what moral might the reader be expected to draw from my meander? None, really—perhaps simply some suggestions. Now, while you’ve time, visit an old friend, or keep in touch through something more intimate than Facebook. A great place to advertise, but not to say, “Hey! You’re special to me.”

Grads—whether it’s your first or fiftieth year out—each one of you has only a finite time. Don’t stop moving: It’s never too early to draw up a bucket list. Stay in touch with your current posse, and remember your other, older, now far-flung friends of earlier days.

Oh: and whatever else, vote NO in November.

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