This summer I will start my 7th year of retirement. How can that be? I retired at 66, 40 years after being ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary. I can still remember that day in May 1976 when dressed in a black gown and holding a one month old baby, I prepared to ascend the pulpit of the Park Avenue Synagogue and receive my ordination. ( I passed the baby off just before ascending). A month later I was driving the trans Canada Highway on the way to my first pulpit in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. A seeming blink later ( 40 years) I was attending my retirement party sitting in a wheel chair from a ski accident that happened in British Columbia. I would swear that I am not older than 50 but for my son’s pending birthday next week when he will be 47. How can that be?
How many 50 year olds can claim a grandson a few months shy of his 19th birthday? In other words both in terms of years and accomplishments most of my life is behind me, and yet….
Next Friday April 21, one day before my son’s birthday I will be “giving birth” to a new child, my book, “Wisdom Grows In My Garden”. The book waited for me to retire to be written and to now spend a year promoting it. It is not just an accomplishment, it is an affirmation that my life is still happening. I still have relevancy. It is true that my back hurts a little more, my memory is a little slower on recall, but I can still contribute to the world that I live in.
When I wrote the book I thought I was sharing life lessons to fellow seniors, and if that was all then to repeat from seder night, Dayenu, it would have been enough. But my son had other ideas.
He asked his 30 plus and 40 year old friends and acquaintances to read the book and lo and behold many loved it and wrote beautiful reviews. I was not just speaking to my peers, I had something that resonated with another generation who were starting to come into their own and beyond. What a gift, to know that even though the time accumulated behind me is vast and the time ahead is much less, ( if you are listening God, don’t rush) I am still making a difference.
Readers of advanced copies have told me that they are enjoying the book but also learning things about their life and how to deal better in it than they have been up till now. Listening to what they are resonating with I realize that besides a good read I have created a Rosarch test for the readers I did not see coming. One reader told me it was for him a parenting book for his teenage children. Someone else told me it was a lesson in being able to make mistakes and still be able to correct them and go in in a better way.
I wrote the book and those takes were never in my mind, but that is the very nature of art. I learned at Seminary in a poetry lecture that when an artist creates and releases her work in the world, she ceases to have ownership of the work’s message. It is the reader, or the observer or the listener who sees or hears it, who determines their own truth. If the artist disagrees it is irrelevant, it ceases to be hers.
Time is speeding up for us as we age but until we take our last breath there are still things to accomplish, family to nurture and guidance to give because on the journey of life , wisdom is something we acquire and something we dispense. Is that not reason enough to keep going?
IT IS MY GREAT JOY TO INVITE YOU TO A BAGEL AND BOOK, BOOK LAUNCH SUNDAY APRIL 23 AT 9.30AM AT TEMPLE BETH AM IN MARGATE. 7205 ROYAL PALM BLVD. MARGATE. I WILL BE SPEAKING ABOUT THE PROCESS OF WRITING THE BOOK AND THEN SIGNING BOOKS. IT WOULD MEAN A LOT TO ME IF YOU COULD ATTEND. FOR THOSE WHO CAN NOT ATTEND THE BOOK WILL BE AVAILABLE ON AMAZON AS OF APRIL 21 AND CAN BE ORDERED FROM MOST BOOK STORES AND CERTAINLY BARNES AND NOBLE. I HOPE TO SEE YOU AT THE LAUNCH.