When I was 75 I wrote a little book, “Seven Decades: A Learning Memoir” about significant learning experiences that had an impact on me and helped shape me into who I am. The book covered each decade from the 1940’s through the first decade of the 21st century. The book ended with 2010. Now another decade passed as a moment in time and I completed my 85th year in June. While not as busy as in the previous 7 decades, I have had the luxury of time and many more opportunities to pursue whatever I wanted.
In the past ten to twelve years there have been a plethora of events, some reminiscent of earlier years, and many unprecedented which have had an effect on us in different ways. I will not try and catalog those here in this blog, one of over 500 written in the past ten years. Varieties of topics, some commentaries on what I regard as issues, some about learning, growing and changing, numerous observations and some seasonal ones. There is no definite theme that I can discern except perhaps “for the record.” If anyone wants know what I think or what I believe these blogs are probably as good a source as any. They are not masterpieces of writing although they give me a forum for expression that is public and that anyone can read.
I am going to highlight the Sandy Hook tragedy on December 14 of 2012 because in the recent decade we have endured over 2500 mass shootings, 199 of them in this year alone and its only May when this was written. And today’s news of 18 children killed in an elementary school in Texas. It has to stop. There is no sanctuary – schools, grocery stores, shopping malls, churches, synagogues, mosques, nightclubs, workplaces, concerts – people going about their lives and then one day, everything changes and is never the same again. That our kids have to endure shooter drills and lockdowns is not the characteristic of this decade I would have hoped to emphasize but here it is and here we are in the aftermath.
We endured a disastrous election in 2016 and the years following have been fraught with political divisiveness, and a movement in the direction of an authoritarian government that would restrict freedoms and our inalienable rights – “a right that can’t be restrained or repealed by human laws.” Sometimes called natural rights, inalienable rights “flow from our nature as free people.” This appears to be in jeopardy with the recently appointed Supreme Court. I have been disappointed in our country’s leadership and their failure to find a way to work together to solve some of our more pressing problems in every arena of our life and culture. Just my opinion based on my values, beliefs and practices. You don’t have to agree and we can agree to disagree and still have a civil conversation.
There has been bad news from every quarter – government, health care, profiteering in the health insurance sector, education, the environment, climate change and racism. It seems that many pay little attention to these things until they affect them or their family personally. As we neared the end of this decade we were hit with the Pandemic which has affected everyone and it’s not over yet. Over 1,000,000 dead which left 250,000 children without a parent or primary care-giver. And the numbers and statistics on this topic, and others, bring little comfort or resolution.
On the good news sides, I have met many people who demonstrate and express kindness and love every day, who practice compassionate concern for others, who have dedicated themselves to helping others and contributing to a better community and society at large. They are not only among the front line health care workers whose life work is as a helper but all the other helpers – mental health workers, teachers, environmentalists, researchers finding cures for disease and so many others. And I remember too those who have brought joy into our lives through music, art, drama, dance, theater, and literature.
I dealt with some personal health issues that resulted in heart surgery and repair that was successful and currently under the care of a cardiologist we have made good progress. There is more to be done and in medicine, as in many other fields, the improved technology has been revolutionary. We said good-bye to Susie’s mother who at 107 had lived a very full, active and rewarding life. We also said hello to two new grandchildren bringing the total to 14.
My work in consulting continued apace with both individuals and organizations seeking change. I have the benefit of being able to do that regardless where we are or where we live. ZOOM became a preferred tool for communication as technology continued to evolve and change. Almost everyone has a computer called a smart phone with apps for every conceivable activity. My personal favorites are WAYZ, the Weather Channel, and PlantNet.
We continued our traveling schedules to Mexico, Canada and to various parts of the U.S. via an RV, made several trips abroad and enjoyed time with a large extended family. We lived near Santa Fe in Abiquiu on the Chama River until 2014, then moved to northern CA which lasted only 2 years. Back again to Santa Fe for a year while we figured out where next. And now we call southern AZ home at least a major part of the year. Traveling is important to us as we enjoy exploring new places and revisiting old ones. On the docket for 2022 summer, a trip to Newfoundland, and we keep options open for other possibilities.
I continue to promote long life learning, growth and change regardless of age. I became active on social media (Twitter and LinkedIn) in 2011 and interact with some like-minded folks on those platforms from around the world. Global connections increased significantly in this recent decade and I am grateful for those. Curiosity continues to be a constant companion in my continuing pursuits and interests as I look forward to each new day via grace and gratitude.