Getting older finds me methodically reviewing my involvements in life. I’m identifying situations, endeavors, and people I’ve mistakenly allowed to drain me of time and energy. Getting older puts the unavoidable fact that none of us lives forever in sharp relief. So, I’ve said to me recently on more than one occasion, why not shed everything and everyone I identify as being an unhealthy drain of time and energy. Accurately identifying who and what falls into this category is is not always easy and not always painless.
The plus side to the shedding-the-excess endeavor is more time and energy becomes available. For example, I’d like to visit a friend of mine named Dave Hausman. Dave owns Big Dave’s Bagels in North Conway, New Hampshire. I’ve known him for years and its been too damned long since I’ve seen him. I’ve never known anyone with more integrity, and, the man is brilliant-smart and deeply compassionate. I miss him and his remarkable wife, Susan, who matches him on the integrity, smarts, and compassion fronts. There are other people and places that fall into the Dave category. My nephew, Joseph Kahrmann, his wife, Tara, and their children for instance. I respect no one anymore than I respect my nephew.
I’d like to go back to the places of my childhood and walk around my old neighborhoods. The hamlets, towns and villages. The streets of New York City, the place I was born, and where so much that makes me who I am today happened. Of course I will continue to write and read and advocate for those being oppressed.
I think the shedding-the-excess endeavor aligns me more with what Henry David Thoreau meant when he said, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” Earlier this afternoon I was reading a long piece of writing my birth-mother Leona wrote to me right after we reunited on January 8, 1987. We were separated on October 9, 1953; I was seven days old. Her emotionally courageous and loving and heartfelt missive ended with the words, “My son, my son, I’ve always loved you.” And she did, always.
Not long before she died of liver cancer on December 19, 2001 I asked her if she had any advise for me in life. “Yes, Peter; be good to yourself.”
I know that freeing myself from all that makes living the life I’ve imagined more difficult is exactly what she’d want me to do.
I love my mother, born Leona Patricia Clark, my whole wide world. I love my life my whole wide world too, all the more because she gave it to me.