At Seventy

aboutselfieA shadow of my future self

Over the years, I’ve come to enjoy the wisdom and dry wit of May Sarton, a woman whose books — particularly Journal of a Solitude, The House by the Sea, and Writings on Writing — have joined my collection of literary touchstones: volumes I find myself reading and re-reading multiple times.

And yet, another of her highly-praised books remained on my shelf for years, unopened and unread. It seemed appropriate to save it for a particular and quite special occasion.  From time to time, I found myself thinking:

One day, I ‘ll be seventy. Then, I’ll see what May has to say about the experience in her book with the tantalizing title: “At Seventy.”

When the much-anticipated birthday came, I celebrated with a trip to the  Tallgrass Prairie bottomlands, where I took my first, shadowy selfie.

Then, in the late afternoon, with bees buzzing about in the late gaura and goldenrod, and the Burlington Northern rumbling both south and north, I opened Sarton’s book.

The journal begins on her birthday: May 3, 1982. After a few words about the beauty of the world at large and the daffodils on her breakfast table, she ponders the question of the day:

What is it like to be seventy?  If someone else had lived so long and could remember things sixty years ago with great clarity, she would seem very old to me. But I do not feel old at all: not as much a survivor as a person still on her way.
I suppose real old age begins when one looks backward rather than forward, but I look forward with joy to the years ahead, and especially to the surprises that any day may bring.

After another page or two, I stopped reading, moved by her words to consider my own “years ahead.”

Without question, I had changed in the course of the past decade, as had certain of my life circumstances. Once the focus of my life, sailing had been supplanted by other interests: photography; writing; and engagement with the natural world. Freed from the role of caretaker, I’d begun to re-experience the joys of travel. While others longed for retirement, I continued to find work satisfying.

Surprisingly, even after nine years of weekly posting, the phenomenon known as “blogger burnout” hadn’t made an appearance. But nine years is a long time, and the changes in my life hadn’t been matched by changes on this site. A new template, a new photo on my “About” page, some revised personal preferences, and an updating of my favorite books, music, and quotations clearly were in order.

When it came to a new photo, I was greatly amused to realize that my first choice as a substitute for the sailing photo I’d chosen so many years ago would be the abstract “selfie.”

At first glance my shadow, captured at the edge of the leaf-covered creek, might be interpreted as a reminder that people — especially the old — tend to become “shadows of their former selves” under the pressures of time and circumstance. The presumption seems to be that after a certain point in life, the downhill slide, the Cheshire Cat-like fade into oblivion, is inevitable.

On the other hand, what if we could  choose to live as shadows of our future selves? What then?  May Sarton has an answer.

Now I become myself. It’s taken
Time, many years and places;
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people’s faces,
Run madly, as if Time were there,
Terribly old, crying a warning,
“Hurry, you will be dead before–”
(What? Before you reach the morning?
Or the end of the poem is clear?
Or love safe in the walled city?)
Now to stand still, to be here,
Feel my own weight and density!
The black shadow on the paper
Is my hand; the shadow of a word
As thought shapes the shaper
Falls heavy on the page, is heard.
All fuses now, falls into place
From wish to action, word to silence,
My work, my love, my time, my face
Gathered into one intense
Gesture of growing like a plant.
As slowly as the ripening fruit
Fertile, detached, and always spent,
Falls but does not exhaust the root,
So all the poem is, can give,
Grows in me to become the song,
Made so and rooted by love.
Now there is time and Time is young.
O, in this single hour I live
All of myself and do not move.
I, the pursued, who madly ran,
Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun!

Today, with new templates all around — even for life — and with a sense of yet one more sea-change arriving, I remember the words of Georgia O’Keeffe, quoted in Joan Didion’s White Album:

Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant… It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest.

Moving into my own 70th year, I find myself paraphrasing O’Keeffe’s words in a way that May Sarton would understand:

Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant… It is what I  will do with where I have yet to be that should be of interest.

Comments always are welcome.

145 thoughts on “At Seventy

  1. Hello Linda,
    Many Happy greetings for the new year and for your 70th birthday. I haven’t been round for a while. I hope you’re well.

    Looking forward to reading May Sarton. I’m never disappointed when following your book recommendations.

    I love your blog’s new look.
    regards
    rosie

    1. I am with you on that closing statement “…It is what I will do with where I have yet to be that should be of interest.”

      happy belated birthday, and may this next trip around the sun bring you lots of experiences to share with us!

    2. What a pleasure to find you here, Rosie. I think of you often. The last time was in a museum gift shop, when I thought, “Rosie would enjoy this mix of people.” Are you still enjoying your hiking? I hope so. I always enjoyed your reports about your adventures.

      I think you’d enjoy Sarton. I’ve never read any of her fiction, but her non-fiction is wonderful, and her books of poetry sometimes contain real gems. i’m not fond of all the poetry, but she’s so prolific, there’s always something new to delight.

      I’m growing fonder of this new look every day. It often happens that, after making a major change of one sort or another I wonder, “Why did it take me so long to do this?”

      1. Hi Linda
        ha ha nice to know you think of me when you find yourself at a Museum Gift Shop. I don’t miss standing all day at my cash register but I do miss the people I met there.

        Yes I’m still hiking. There are so many wonderful hikes close to home.
        My sister’s 70th is next month and thanks to you I know what to buy her. :-)

  2. After reading your latest very interesting post I talked about the meaning of a future as against reflecting on the past, with Helvi. We we both agreed that the future, or ‘where I have yet to be’ isn’t for us as much of a burning issue anymore as reflecting on the past.

    We now take the future as it comes on a daily basis. On that we are more inclined to lean towards the words of Georgia O’Keeffe. ” It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest.”

    We like the feeling of being ‘settled’ after a rather adventurous and interesting past which included and still does traumatic and overwhelming sadness. Part and parcel of life for many. It isn’t unique.

    I am reminded of the words of Woody Allen; ” I don’t think we learn much from the past and I expect I would make the same foolish choices all over again. There is not much of great benefit in having hindsight.”

    I suppose that shows that we ought to look more forward than backward, but… both at seventy seven, we have so much more past than future and therein lies the dilemma.

    1. However we incorporate the past into our current lives — and however we seek to move into the future — “shoulds” and “oughts” can make the process tricky. I tried in this post to be descriptive, rather than prescriptive, simply because there is no right answer for everyone. All of us are Janus-faced, looking both forward and backward, and I think that’s healthy.

      I certainly don’t disregard the past. It’s helped to make me who I am today. And I enjoy that sense of being settled that you talk about. Ordinary life has a lot going for it, although I have come to see it as the very place where the extraordinary can appear.

      I’ve always found that Woody Allen can be counted on to be appropriately wry when it comes to these matters. Another of his bon mots I enjoy is, “I have no idea what I am doing, but incompetence has never prevented me from plunging in with enthusiasm.”

  3. Linda, as always, you weave a delightful post. And now I find I need to discover May Sarton. But, “At Seventy” will have to wait a few years for me. That’s still a whole lot of musings over the morning cup of coffee on the back porch.

    1. And good musings they are, Gary. The opportunity to begin each day with a little reflection (and a little birdsong) isn’t to be taken lightly. May Sarton’s a gift, too. Her journals contain everything from her frustrations as a writer to sharp observation of nature, and gardening tips. In short, they’re real records of a real life, and I’ve found them entirely enjoyable.

      By the way, Peter and Susan Conaty were at the meeting of the Clear Lake chapter of the Native Plant Society last night. They both looked great, and it was a thrill to see them there.

  4. Wishing you all good things for this 70th year–and beyond. Like a previous commenter, I like the quote:” Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant… It is what I will do with where I have yet to be that should be of interest.” I hope you can have many meaningful trips and lots of wildlife viewing

    1. When it comes to wildlife, Tina, I started out with quite a discovery this past Sunday at Brazoria Wildlife Refuge — a blue crawdad! I had no idea such a critter existed in the wild, but they do. Who knows what the rest of the year will bring? That seems like an auspicous beginning.

      Thanks so much for the good wishes — and for adding that “beyond.” Given the gene pool on my mother’s side of the family, I anticipate many more good years.

    1. Just toss me a bouquet of Big Bend bluebonnets, and I’ll go on forever — or at least a little while. Maybe this will be the year for that trek into your territory, at last.

  5. Well, the photo is appropriate. We all are going back to nature.

    I really like the new layout. Now that you bring it up, I blogged for 8 years. I didn’t burn out as much as get tired of reading myself. I still get tired of reading myself and listening to myself, too. But I’m also good company. Anyone worthwhile isn’t simple…

    A few months ago I read an article that said blogging is writing your own long drawn out obituary. There’s something to that. But who cares? Do whatever fills the need, connect, reach out to help, teach, amuse or just be a virtual friend. Life’s too damn complex now.

    Because I live in O’Keeffe’s stomping grounds and see her name in this neighborhood and that neighborhood, I think of her often. I’ve always been restless, but now to make it a productive restless- that’s the challenge.

    1. We’re not just going back to nature, we are nature. Some day, virtual reality is going to run aground on that particular shoal. Or so I like to imagine.

      I laughed at the thought of blog-as-obituary. It doesn’t seem to describe what I write — or read, for that matter — but I suppose they’re out there. Perhaps the obituary-blog would be akin to those Christmas letters we’ve all received from perfect families living the perfect life: interesting, but not necessarily fully grounded in reality. In any event, I’m not ready to write my own obit, in blog form or otherwise.

      I like that phrase: productive restlessness. It occurs to me that may be a good part of what we call curiosity. I’ll have to think more about that.

      1. As soon as I posted my comment I realized what I’d said re “going back to nature”. I decided not to scramble to save face and to let you have that one to poke at. Boo hoo to the virtual crowd. Ya’ll going to be compost, too.

  6. Happy Birthday! and welcome to the seventies. I’ve been there for a while now and hope I haven’t trampled on them unduly. I think that you will find as I have that with each year, understanding deepens and with it a vision of many new doors yet to be opened. Enjoy!

    1. From what I can tell, the 70s are a perfectly fine place to be. I’m quite aware that radical life changes could come at any time, but there’s no sense worrying about those. You’re quite an example yourself of overcoming obstacles to keep on trekking. Here’s to a fine new year of exploration for us both!

  7. Dear Linda, and by George you really are a dear. I am always entertained and enlightened as I read your posts. I suppose the one thing that I enjoy the most is the interaction or intertwining of famous writers that are part or parcel of your posts. The May Sarton poem rings so true. I, for one, and like you, intend to enjoy life for as long as I can. I love nature as you do, I just can’t get out as I once did due to the meds for my heart and so many family circumstance that I can’t control. Through your blog, I can at least enjoy nature and learn about writers that I have never heard of. To me your blog is priceless.

    So happy birthday to the new seventy. I turned eighty back a few days before Christmas. It does feel a bit different but my goals remain the same. I am hopeful that family responsibilities will eventually lessen and I can get back to more blogging and photography.

    1. Yvonne, one of the things I enjoy about blogging is the opportunity to share some of my favorites — like Sarton — while also being introduced to writers, artists, and thinkers I otherwise wouldn’t know.

      Certainly, there have been times in my life when things weren’t exactly copacetic (there’s an old-fashioned word for you), and there may be unhappy times in the future, but right now? Life is pretty good. I’m glad I can get out and about — although I need to start carving out more time for photography. I took my camera to the wildlife refuge on Sunday, for the first time since my trip, and it’s clear that letting things slide like that wasn’t a good idea.

      My best friend is 80. In the past four years she’s had a stroke, a broken arm, a smashed kneecap, and cataract surgery, but she’s just gotten back from two river cruises: one on the Mississippi and one on the Columbia River. As she said, “I sure am glad i finished rebuilding the house after the floods, so I could do all this.” I said, “You go, girl — in every sense of the word.” We’ll keep going, too!

      1. Lina, your friend sounds like someone to emulate. I hope I can live life in a more fulfilled manner than what I have in the past few years. I do want to get back to photographing more. Whether that will happen remains to be seen.

        But I admire your grit and staying power. Just make sure that you continue to stay healthy. Eat very healthy and take vitamins. I think you already get plenty of exercise.

        I hope to see some of your photos, taken at the wildlife refugee, posted on your blog before long.

        1. I got curious about the word, looked it up, and discovered it’s a “new” word that didn’t arrive on the scene until about 1920. Apparently it’s grounded in African-American slang, and the jazz scene of the “Roaring Twenties.” So interesting.

          1. Thanks, Linda. Your info is very interesting. I had no idea how the word came into use. I love the sound of it and use it probably more than I should but as I previously wrote, I speak the slang- copaceti which is dropping the “c” at the end.

  8. As we grow older, we realize the relativity of age. It wasn’t so long ago that I heard my children refer to a certain teacher as an old woman. And when I went to visit her in school, I was surprised to find her barely 40. Now those same children are in their fifties. It seems to me that life doesn’t change radically as we grow older. We continue to search for the same things in so far as our values direct us. Some things change, but there is a certain essence that remains. As we age and grow old, the areas in which we have learned and excel enable us to continue past enjoyments. On the other hand, our weakness seems to emphasize those characteristics that led to failures in the past. And it seems that all through life, there are always new tests, and occasional failures, with which we have to deal. It’s all part of life, I believe. Wishing you a very enjoyable decade ahead, with health and happiness, and the support of good friends.

    1. Thank you, Shimon. You’re quite right about the relativity of age. It also seems to me that, as we age, the possibilities for friendship and collegiality increase. The gap between a twenty-year old and a ten year old hardly allows for equality. But give the pair a few decades, and they may be quite good friends at sixty and fifty years of age.

      Like you, I believe there is an essence that endures. In individuals, we call it personality. In communities, we call it tradition. If we’re lucky, or blessed, we may recognize it, and reclaim it for our own.

      During Hanukkah, I shared a video that nicely presents the tests, the failures, and the small victories of life. You might have seen it, but if not, I think you’ll enjoy this. it’s as vibrant, hopeful, and filled with life as I pray our next years are.

  9. I see other readers are especially impressed with your last sentence. That is my goal even now at 82. What will I do with the “new” to come? I will visit the past and relish in it’s memories even as I live each day making new memories. How could I have possibly thought three years ago, that I would have world wide friends as I have made in this venue! Some where in Paul’s writings he mentions us moving “from glory to glory.” How much is still to come!

    1. The past has given us skills, memories, and wisdom, but we certainly are free to employ all of those in the service of the new.

      And you’re exactly right about the unexpected gifts that come our way: like your blogging community. I don’t think I could have predicted a single important thing that’s happened to me in this life — good or bad. And honestly? I’m with Edith Piaf. I don’t regret a thing — partly because regret takes so much energy. Do I wish I’d done some things differently? Of course. But the occasional wrong-headedness is part of what makes us wise, don’t you think?

    1. I saw that bubble in your latest post. You’re still pursuing some of that child-like fun! There is time for more adventures, and May Sarton would be a great companion for you. I think you’d like her journals, partly because reading and reflecting on one entry at a time isn’t so overwhelming and would fit into your schedule nicely.

      Thanks for the good wishes! On we go!

      1. Yes, Linda, I tried very hard to blow bubbles even after this photo, it snowed, but still no frozen ones. I’ll not give up and I do believe I will enjoy Sarton’s books. Can you recommend one to start with? And on we go….

        1. I think maybe you’d enjoy “The House By the Sea.” It’s a journal she kept after moving from New Hampshire to Maine. It has everything from deep thoughts about writing to baking Christmas cookies. It can be a little gloomy in the beginning, because she was working out some personal issues, but she’s a good observer of herself as well as of the world, so it’s never too heavy.

          You can read some reviews at Goodreads for a better sense of it.

  10. Much as I like Georgia’s quote, I like your version better. My mom is 92, still spry, alert and active. That colors my thoughts, as does Frost’s musings on promises and roads not taken. There will come a day when my promises have all been kept, and I might just turn that pony into a road less traveled and see where it goes. In the meantime, I’m a Gemini, and I contain multitudes and worlds, a great deal of which is undiscovered country.

    1. We both have been blessed with long-lived, active mothers. With luck, we’re swimming in the same gene pool. Nothing’s certain, of course, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see your mother reach 100. She’s got the support (including you), the friends, and the enthusiasm for life to make it happen.

      Your comment about saddling up and taking that other road reminds me of a favorite Buffett tune. I love this line: “Follow the equator, like that old articulator.” He’s talking about Twain, of course, and every time I hear the song, I want to read “Following the Equator” again. One of the best quotations ever came from that book: “Be good, and you will be lonesome.” Buffett turned that into a song, too.

      Here’s to the far country, and exploring.

  11. Your new layout looks clean and sparse as though it’s waiting to fill up with all the words of your future stories. I like the idea of being a shadow of a future self. And I am very interested in where you are headed.

    1. I very much like the way things look now. Cheri’s suggestion to add the avatars was perfect. The weird spacing in the comment section disappeared once I added the avatars. I’d kept things a little too spare.

      I really enjoyed coming up with that “shadow of a future self.” Like the star that follows us, it was a matter of taking a commonplace and reversing it. It’s a simple and effective rhetorical device, but not always obvious.

      I do have a sense that you’ve picked up on a little extra movement around here. Let’s just say that if I can keep up the forward momentum, it will be a good — and interesting — year: at least for me, and I hope for you, too.

      1. I think my husband and I must have done too much teeth gnashing in 2016; we’re starting off the year with a hefty dental bill. So here’s to 2017, good teeth and good momentum, and lots of interesting things to chew upon. :)

        1. I think there was a lot of teeth-gnashing going on in 2016, and I suspect it’s not over. Still, we can hope. I second your toast to the New Year, as does my kitty. She had to have a tooth extracted recently, and she’d prefer not to go through that again.

    1. Do you think we could say I’ve Marie Kondo’d my blog? I’m not sure i could do it to my closets, but it was great fun to clean things up here.

      Thanks for the good wishes. Given that my actual birthday was in late October, I’d say I’ve done a bang-up job of stretching out the celebration. I’ve always thought a birthday deserved more than 14 hours, anyway!

  12. Thank you for re-directing me here. WP had done the same thing to a post of mine last year and I can understand your dismay and confusion on the part of your followers. Happy Birthday and ENJOY !

    1. When I got home from a meeting last night and things still hadn’t worked themselves out, I decided the brief repost was the only answer, especially since I didn’t want to risk losing anyone’s comment. It worked fine, and from now on I’m going to “check under the hood” to be sure the posting date and time are correct before I hit “publish.”

      I’m sorry you had the same problem, but it is some comfort to know it happened to someone else. And thanks for the good wishes! I generally don’t pay much attention to my birthdays, but this one did seem a little special.

  13. A pirate looks at 70?

    But seriously 70 is the new 50, or so I’m told. I rather like that idea, as it must mean that 50 is the new 30, and therefore my 56 is only a “new” 36. Time is young, and so are we.

    New 50 or not, happy (belated) birthday! Thanks for sharing your beautiful writing, and your wisdom. You are a blessing.

    1. You know, if we don’t stop with the Buffett tunes, I just might be tempted to pick up my brushes and head for the Keys. I’m not sure how wise that would be, or how much of a blessing, but on the other hand, it’s not like I haven’t headed off on impulse before.

      We are young — young enough to sometimes let the paradoxes of life, and all its little ironies, simply be. That’s why I’m happy to let Buffett and Shakoor sing their hearts out. They may be making a bundle in the process, but they’re also giving voice to an approach to life that’s brought me a great deal of happiness over the years: despite periods of low cash flow and high anxiety, of course.

      Thanks for your kind words. It’s going to be a year of experimentation for us both. I’m not sure where to buy my seeds, though!

  14. I’ve not read May Sarton but it seems that you have yet another non-fiction book of hers to look forward to, a journal called ‘At eighty two’. As for the Reader, I don’t rely on it as it frequently doesn’t show me posts of people whose blogs I’m following and want to read, so I use Reader as a nudge and email for notifications of new posts.

    In completely the wrong order, I now want to wish you a happy birthday!

    I was brought up by parents nearly forty years older than myself so I’ve always known and mixed with people older than myself and really I don’t think anything of it. To me, people are people whatever their age. There’s definitely been a slowing down for me, in the sense of not caring as much now as I used to about the superficialities of life (or what I see as such), things that were important to me when I was younger. And as I fulfilled a dream I’d had since childhood of moving from a dirty, noisy urban environment to a rural one, a few years ago, I’m noticing and enjoying far more in reality things that I had previously only dreamed about.

    1. Some reviewers have called “At Eighty-Two” her best. I thought this Kirkus Review piece was intriguing. As we all say: so many books, so little time.

      I don’t use the Reader, either, but I always check it after I post, to be sure everything’s in order. Yesterday, it wasn’t — and I was glad for my routine. I’ve accidentally published a draft, but this is the first time a meant-to-be-published piece hasn’t shown up. Given the number of blogs being handled by WP, I’m not surprised there are problems now and then.

      My parents were a little older, too, but it was my status as an only child that led to a lot of adult companionship. Today, I’m taking more seriously the advice offered by some eighty and ninety-year-olds I’ve known: to make younger friends. It’s difficult to see age-mates die, but it happens, and it’s best to be prepared for it.

      I understand your preference for a rural area. I’ve lived in large cities, and won’t be doing that again. I’m glad you’ve been able to slow down, and take in the world around you. It does make the years more enjoyable, doesn’t it?

  15. Happy Birthday Linda. My 70th comes in February. It’s a milestone of sorts. I don’t see it as a millstone ready to pull me down to never move forward. My physical and mental health are strong. My genes tell me I will likely see 20+ more. Make the best of them.

    Melanie and I have seen the date snafu with WordPress before. Our post yesterday about Seattle in Our View From Iowa was one. We worked on it a couple of days. When we save our work, the date changed properly. But, not yesterday. It was stuck on the day before. Melanie copied to to start a new one. I’m glad I didn’t miss your post today.

    1. It’s strange that my fiftieth barely registered. It was a busy time — lots of sailing, business-building, and such — but it still didn’t feel particularly important to me. Maybe that’s because 90 seemed much farther away than it does now. Still, like you, I prefer milestone to millstone. As a matter of fact, I’ve actually felt energized by turning seventy. Why that should be, I haven’t a clue, but I’m glad of it.

      For a while last night, I thought perhaps the Reader was off kilter. Then, your Seattle post popped up, so I knew something else was going on. I’ll keep the tip about copying the post in mind, in case it happens again.

      I’m still bemused by seeing “trashed” show up in the slug, rather than my post title. Could it be that WP is using an algorithm to judge posts these days? Can we look forward to slugs that read, “You’re Kidding, Right?”, “Awesome!!!”, or “Try housepainting”?

  16. What enjoyment and hope I find in your work. At 60 I feel betwix and between about where I have been and where I am going. I feel Afronted by being 60 and where the future lies for me. So far it looks more challenging than most other events but life has a way of keeping me hopping. Thank you for great food for thought.

    1. That’s exactly how it is: life does keep us hopping. I think I enjoy both birthdays and New Year’s Day because they offer a natural chance to slow down, reflect on the past, and make a resolution or two for the future.

      It makes me happy to hear you say you find hope here, and I think May Sarton would be pleased to know that, too. She could be cranky, depressed, anxious, and anti-social at times, but she could be an extraordinarily hopeful person, as well. She certainly gives me food for thought, so I’m happy to have done the same for you.

  17. Happy Birthday and many more! Thanks for the pointer to this post. Otherwise we never would have seen it. I agree with your statement “Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant… It is what I will do with where I have yet to be that should be of interest.” It is much like I told a friend last year: “What you did is not as important as what you do.” It’s a good reminder that we need not hold too much pride or shame about our past accomplishments or mistakes. Where we go from there is the key.

    As to writing and blog burn-out, I find that though I write “a lot,” I miss writing with more serious intention. This year I would like to make more effort at that.

    Thanks as always for the post.

    1. As I mentioned to Jim, it was your Seattle post that convinced me the problem wasn’t in the Reader. I’ve tucked away your hint about copying the post for future crises.

      This is so true: “It’s a good reminder that we need not hold too much pride or shame about our past accomplishments or mistakes.” Some years ago, a colleague used to say, “When it’s time to decide: decide. Then, let go and move on. Otherwise, if you were right, you’ll spend forever congratulating yourself, and if you were wrong, you’ll beat yourself up forever.”

      Eventually, I turned that into one of my inviolable rules for blogging: “Write, and let go.” I can work and re-work a piece for weeks, but once I hit “publish,” I just don’t fuss over it any more. Instead, I choose my next topic, and get to work on that. Eventually, I’ll go back and look at old posts with a more critical eye, but there needs to be some distance for that to be useful.

      Your quilting is so detailed and intricate that your writing about it often has to be, too. I suspect you’ll enjoy other sorts of writing. I know we will!

  18. I have read and loved May Sarton but not the ‘Writings on Writing.’ I love those kinds of books so it will go on my Amazon Wish List. What you quoted from her in your last line is something we should all take to heart and I admit that isn’t always easy for me.

    Happy Birthday to a wise and talented writer and artist with a camera!

    1. What fun, that you know May Sarton, too. If you enjoy writers on writing, you surely would appreciate Annie Dillard’s “The Writing Life,” if you haven’t come across it. The Sarton and Dillard books, along with a couple by William Zinsser, have been my guides through this whole little endeavor: as good for inspiration as for technique.

      Just a note — that last line that you liked isn’t Sarton’s, but mine: my paraphrase of O’Keeffe’s words. As fond as I am of those words, I’m going to claim them!

      Thanks so much for the birthday greeting, and the complimentary words. They’re great encouragement as I move into a new year, determined to hone what talent I have ever more sharply.

  19. All best wishes for a wonderful 70th year, Linda! Love the quotes and yes, Sarton and O’Keeffe are good companies to travel with. I have two Sarton books on my shelf and O’Keeffe in my memory. Lovely post.

    1. Thanks, Arti. I just was thinking yesterday about our first meeting, over the writings of Madeleine L’Engle. She has a word to say about aging herself: “The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.” Sometimes they get buried, but if we’re willing to pick up a shovel, they still can be found.

      Here’s to a creative year for us both. i need to start leaving comments on your off-WP work, so you’ll know I’ve been around!

  20. So many happy wishes to you on your 70th! I’m sorry I’ve been out of the blogosphere lately, but I do my best to keep up with your beautiful writing… So here’s to all the wonderful future surprises that are coming your way in the future! :)

    1. It’s always a delight to see you, however long between visits or your blog entries. Life is what it is, and there isn’t time for everything. But here’s a question — have you changed your gravatar image? I don’t remember seeing it before, but I really like it.

      Thanks for your good wishes, and a happy New Year to you. Before we know it, it will be hug-a-tree day again — I suspect we’ll see you for that!

  21. Our last night in Sicily, and we are waiting until dinner hour begins here–so much later than we do at home! So, as I am where there is (I hope) a stable internet connection, I came by and had the pleasure of reading your post. I love your revision to the O’Keeffe. Happy travels into the next decade!

    1. That was one of the first things that surprised me about Spain — the late dinner hour. Still, when the paella arrived, no one cared that it was 9 p.m.

      Thanks so much for stopping by, and for your good wishes. I was thinking about you a couple of days ago when I saw that the Tibor de Nagy Gallery is showing an exhibition of new John Ashbery collages — through January 28. If you’re in the City, it no doubt would be worth a visit.

      I trust there will be photos to come — if you’re not already home, happy and safe travels.

  22. I can’t say I saw a lot of change in the years between 60 and 70. Since 70 the change is enormous. I’m probably happier than any time in my life. I don’t spend much time thinking about the past. I much prefer thinking about the future.

    1. Given what you say about life post-seventy, Linda, I’m looking forward to some great times ahead. In a way, my sixties-to-seventies decade seems to have been a time of transition, and of subtle, under -the-surface changes that have prepared a way for something new. We’ll see.

      As for the past, I don’t worry over it, but I do draw on it, and I believe absolutely that Faulkner got it right when he wrote, in “Requiem for a Nun, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

  23. Linda, you mentioned birdsong in one of your replies above and I suddenly remembered being aware of birdsong this morning while doing my chores (feeding and watering dogs, chickens and geese). The morning was cold and overcast, the work felt mundane, and yet the birds changed everything! Thinking on this reminded me of my first cross country drive in 1974 and how amazed I was with all the singing birds in the south. Having lived all my early life in Southern California I just never heard much from any bird with the exception of the Mockingbird. All this to say, that over the past few years I seem to have tuned them out. What a disconnect!

    Thank you for your 70 years of living and for sharing your perspective. Thank you for making me realize that the sum of past experience prepares me to look forward, to keep growing and to rejoice in each new day.

    Until this post I was afraid of 70.

    1. The birds do change and charge the atmosphere, don’t they? My mockingbird — which I’m certain is the same one who for three years has been singing in the same tree, at the same time every day — is back, and it’s thrilling. It’s not quite spring, but you wouldn’t know it to listen to him.

      Of course, it’s a bit like your California in my neighborhood. If I want juncos and cardinals, chickadees and titmice, I’m going to have to head to brushier country. We’re mostly seagulls and egrets and herons around here, and while their croaks and grunts are amusing, it’s hardly singing. Still, your point is valid. It’s easy as can be to tune them out — and such a pleasure to begin hearing them again.

      There were some times, decades ago, when I never would have imagined being as happy as i am today, and certainly couldn’t have imagined some of the twists and turns in my life. I have a feeling that you and Bob are in the middle of some of those twists and turns now, and that you’ll end up happier than you ever imagined.

      I only have about three months of seventy-hood behind me, but so far it doesn’t seem scary at all. We’ll see how it goes!

  24. Happy Birthday (and you were right to make sure this post didn’t get swamped by the sheer numbers and overlooked.Such a treasure.)

    Funny, I’ve always thought of shadows of what is yet to come – to materialize – the possibilities gathering themselves until time to step forward. (But then I see darkness different than most, too?)

    Sarton may be on to something with old age beginning when one starts looking backwards.
    You sound like a young child enjoying the swings – loving the wind in her hair and sun on bare legs.
    (Must have something to do with the zen nature of your occupation?)
    An any case – a blue crawdad? Yep, only one jewel offered and more to discover!
    Cheers and onward

    1. Although there seems to be no real answer as to why the post was published with a January 5 date, at least I understand now how I could have moved it into the Reader — had I caught the omission before there were any comments. And I know now why the slug says “trashed.” If you’re interested, there’s an answer in my reply to Lisa/Playamart, just below. One thing’s certain; I wasn’t about to let it disappear.

      I love your mention of the swings. Remember Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem, from “A Child’s Garden of Verses”?

      “How do you like to go up in a swing,
      Up in the air so blue?
      Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
      Ever a child can do!

      Up in the air and over the wall,
      Till I can see so wide,
      Rivers and trees and cattle and all
      Over the countryside—

      Till I look down on the garden green,
      Down on the roof so brown—
      Up in the air I go flying again,
      Up in the air and down!”

      Here’s a photo of the crawfish for you. It’s wonderful strange, as they say. In the meantime, while we’re waiting for the next treasure — keep on swinging!

    1. I saw that “trashed” designation, too, and wondered about it. Now, I have an explanation from a “Happiness Engineer.”

      We don’t know how this ended up with a publication date of January 5th, rather than the 9th. What we do know is that when I tried adjusting the date to the 9th, to see if that would pop it into the reader, and then changed it back to the 5th, that caused it to be “read” by WP as a trashed and reinstated post. The system automatically adds “trashed” to the slug at that point. Once a post is published, you can’t change the portion of the slug that reflects the title, so there it is.

      As for the slug itself, here’s some information on that. I could have managed to get the post into the reader in a couple of different ways had I noticed the problem before comments were left. At that point, a redirect was the easiest way to handle it. Live and learn, indeed!

        1. As much as I fuss about certain aspects of WordPress, this actually all makes sense to me now. I do know that the Reader was showing up for some people on some browsers, like Chrome, as nothing more than gray bars on Monday. I suspect there was work on the back end of the Reader that might have caused the original glitch. I’ll give them a pass on this one!

          1. you always have a kind heart!
            today i used the ‘newer’ compose post page, and it’s lacking in many ways vs the older one. for one, it adds extra steps to things like ‘add media’ and on slow internet, it’s frustrating. there doesn’t seem to be a ‘preview post’ in new window – only that silly boop boop bop that never loads on slow internet. i published it without proofing, as it just spun there…

            ah, but if that’s the worst my day gets (and it was) then it’s really nothing!

            time for some sleep.. on friday i’ll be up really early for a birding tour….

            good night, amiga!

            1. Si, I have it bookmarked on the Opera browser, which had gone into spasms, so I did the post on Chrome, which did not have the bookmark. I went to the top left, drop down, and once uponce a time one could reach the Classic Editor there, but today it was absent…. Thanks dear friend!

  25. Obviously, I was one of the ones who missed this one, and I’m glad I finally got to read it. You’ve made some thought-provoking points on a “milestone” birthday. I think it’s been said that “old age” is 10 years older than we are at present, so consider yourself a young’un!

    Happy belated birthday. I admire your attitude and half-envy your free time! I know things won’t remain complicated for me forever, but it’s always tough when slogging through the weeds!

    I continue to love your new layout here — so clean, fresh, and easy to read. Well done!

    1. A young’un, for sure — especially among a certain group of friends where everyone either is approaching or is well over 80 years of age. They call me the “baby” of the group.

      I laughed all day over your comment about free time. The phrase reminds me of our family’s view of cake. In our household, there either was cake, or there wasn’t. The concept of “leftover cake” made no sense to us. You could have frosted cake, or cake with ice cream, or refrigerator cake, but there never was “leftover” cake.

      I’ve always thought of time in the same way. We can waste our time, or be productive with our time, or even let time just slip away — but none of us has any more than anyone else. While we’re living, we have all the time there is; only the choice of how to use it remains. Of course, after work and sleep are factored in, the amount of time remaining is considerably less than our 24 daily hours — and that’s where the crunch comes. If I can figure out how to manufacture more time, I’ll send you some!

      And I love that you love the new layout here. I’m really happy with it, too.

  26. Linda You are a lovely 70, and your positive anticipating outlook doesn’t surprise me in the least. At 90 you will have the same inquiring and curious persona. You introduced me to May Sarton’s lovely “At Seventy” just before our 70th anniversary and I have enjoyed it ever since; reading and rereading passages from time to time. It is strange to think we are at the stage of life which we once thought old. At nearly 89 I still look forward to what else I might accomplish or achieve.

    1. I had a hard time keeping myself out of that book for a while. I kept dipping in, and then putting it away, Now, I’m enjoying it a daily entry at a time, and it’s really quite wonderful. I’ve heard good things about her last book, “At Eighty-Two.” I think I’ll get that one once I’ve re-read all of her others — but I’m not going to wait until I’m eighty-two.

      If I were to draw a picture of my life, I think it would be a bridge, with childhood on one side, and the 1990s and beyond on the other. All those middle years? Water under the bridge. Which bridge? Well, this one, of course!

  27. Belated birthday greetings! Looking forward seems wise council while we still journey, I think. It is interesting how we discern changes over the years; and still there is an “I” that tells the story and imagines the future.

    1. You’ve reminded me again of Robert Goeser, the PLTS profesor who influenced so many of us so profoundly. His insistence that we learn to say “I” also was an insistence that we claim our words, and take responsibility for them. When I went back to the post where I wrote about him, I was astonished to find that it’s from 2009, and that I quoted the same words from Georgia O’Keeffe that appear here.

      Sometimes, what endures through the years is as interesting as what changes.

  28. I congratulate you on such a great photo and the journey you envision for yourself. I like this post, it’s so hopeful. Living in the past is so easy, and May Sarton’s poems captures the essence of living in the moment. It sounds like such an exciting stage of your life Linda! Congrats and happy birthday!

    1. What you say about living in the past being easy is true, I think. We like old jeans, old shoes, old quilts, because they’re comfortable. Old patterns of behavior, old habits, old attitudes, can be comfortable, too — even when they’re clearly worn out.

      There’s going to have to be a lot of picking and choosing as I move forward, because the truth is that i haven’t the energy, the money, or the time to do everything I’d like to do. Rather than bemoan the fact, it seems more reasonable — and a lot more fun — to make some choices, and accomplish at least a few goals. Every day is important. As Annie Dillard wrote, quite rightly, “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour and with that one, is what we are doing.”

      What a wonderful thought — that every hour counts!

      1. I couldn’t agree more. Perhaps this is what is also called the Buddha’s “middle way”, the path to nirvana. I don’t know. All I remember is that beautiful little book called ‘Siddhartha’ by Herman Hesse, and the river as symbol of life’s cycles bringing us to the present, all over again.

  29. I love that leafy shadowy picture, and will make good use of that image and concept, “a shadow of my future self,” for myself, too! It’s very positive without being preachy or sentimental. It’s the Light shining that makes a shadow, after all, and I will be who I will be by letting that Light fall on me.

    Thank you, Linda, for your example of an adventurous and grateful spirit. All the best to you in 2017 and in this next phase of your life.

    1. I abhor both preachiness and sentimentality, so I accept your comment with tremendous gratitude. And a mention of gratitude reminds me of one of my favorite observations from Billy Collins: “A love of language and a sense of gratitude would be two ingredients in the recipe for making a poet.”

      Clearly, we both love language, and just as clearly we both understand gratitude. Whether reading or writing, it will be enjoyable to share the poetry of the coming year with you, GJ.

  30. Belated birthday greetings as well as happy New Year, Linda! And congratulations on your new blog format. Very clear.

    Ah me – too many books, too little time…I have now added May Sarton to the already burgeoning 2017 must-read list…clearly, what I need for my 70th birthday is: a book-reading doppelgänger!

    1. Isn’t the new format nice? I started thinking about a change when WP introduced themes that adjusted to fit tablets and phones. Then came infinite scroll, and then the wider-columned, and so on. I suppose I’m just a good example of a late adapter. Or, I could be a stick-in-the-mud. That’s possible, too.

      If you haven’t read Sarton, I think you’ll find her congenial. She’s not to everyone’s taste, I suppose. But her appreciation of nature, human and otherwise, her ability to record life in interesting detail, and an introspective bent have made her a favorite for me.

      Just for grins, I thought I’d check the Mercury retrograde calendar to see what was up when my publication glitches happened. Well, here we are. January 9 was the first day of Mercury Direct Station. According to a linked page, ” As much as the Mercury Retrograde Station tends to be a focus of errors, false assumptions, lack of clarity and proper execution, the Mercury Direct Station tends to be a focus for revealing the consequences.” In other words, if I had just checked the little “publish immediately” calendar a day or two earlier, I would have seen that the date had been changed, and all would have been well.

  31. Is it really nine years?
    Nine long years that you have been working and writing, and nine long years I have been ‘retired’ and playing at writing! When each New Year comes around, I say to myself, ‘I must finish the book this year’! (It is nearly there.)

    I love this post, it says so much to me. I think I will print out … “Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant… It is what I will do with where I have yet to be that should be of interest.”….. and post it over my computer!

    A very happy belated birthday.

    1. Yes, ma’am. Nine years — but of course that’s only here at WordPress. There were a couple of years at WU before I moved to my new digs. On the other hand, I wasn’t so much “writing” at WU as I was poking around in piles of words, seeing if I could make something of them. We’ve both been a little sluggish with our books, but I do think that there’s something to that “when the time is right” business. Even when we put things on the back burner, they’re still simmering.

      It’s funny that you should be thinking of printing out some of my words to put above your computer. After all, I’ve had your words next to mine for all these years.

      1. I hoped you would get the inference.
        I like that … my story is simmering… perhaps if I turned up the heat it might come to the boil!

  32. The French ease into seventy by calling it soixante-dix, literally sixty-ten. (The original septante survives in a few dialects.) The age that follows is soixante-et-onze, sixty-and-eleven. The sixties linger for twenty years. I wonder whether that has any psychological effect.

    1. I wondered if they do that only for age, or for counting in general. When I looked at a table of numbers, I saw that the pattern begins early, with “dix-sept,” so it can be used for counting oranges as well as years. Seeing that it’s part of a general pattern, it doesn’t feel so strange, but my first response was that it seemed like keeping one foot in the past.

      On the other hand, at least their way of doing things might help to keep some basic math skills honed. I can imagine a group gathered around a café table, muttering “Soixante-…ummm….”

      1. You’re correct that the French counting system applies to anything, not just ages. The word for eighty is four-twenties. Like the sixties, the eighties go on for twenty years, up to four-twenty-ten-nine, which is to say ninety-nine. With spoken French, it’s hard for an English speaker—even one good with arithmetic—to make the mental conversion while keeping up with the rest of the sentence.

    1. Thanks, Robert. There’s so much good poetry in the world, none of us can find it all. Despite extensive reading of Sarton, I found this poem of hers recently on Bill’s blog, and it helped to pull together my own essay-in-progress.

      If there’s a centennial edition, you can be sure that everyone who’s still around will get cake and ice cream, too. The logistics might be complicated, but it will happen!

  33. A belated Happy Birthday. Seems like you are as fresh and alive and kicking as anyone could wish, no matter the age. I totally agree with May Sarton in that old age begins when one looks backward rather than forward. That’s an insight it seems both you and I live by.

    1. “Alive and kicking” is a phrase my grandfather often used. I looked it up just now, and found this: “The phrase originated in the late 18th to early 19th century and is believed to have been used by fishmongers to convince customers of the freshness of their fish. The earliest print citation is from an anonymous travelogue “Farther excursions of the observant pedestrian” in 1801.”

      That made me laugh. But as long as the phrase applies to me, I’m happy enough to be implicitly compared to a fish. And you’re right — we do share that forward-looking perspective. That’s one of the things that makes your blog so appealing. Creativity may be grounded in the past (gaining experience, learning techniques, and so on) but it looks to the future. So shall we!

  34. I’m not too many years behind you, and I should take this to heart – what am I going to do with all my many blessings? Sit in my house and enjoy them? You will be amused to hear that your post is making me rethink taking some time off from church after we move. I imagine that I’ll take a bit of time to get oriented & then dive right back into being a Church Lady. It’s the best way I know how to pay my blessings forward…

    P.S. Happy happy birthday!

    1. I suspect you’ll know when the time has come to get reinvolved, Dana. The moving process is just that — a process. Packing up and heading east is the easy part. Then comes unpacking, figuring out where all the stuff goes, finding the best grocery, visiting with your dads — all of it. Even though you know the area, it’s going to be a new, and exciting, experience. I’m certainly looking forward to the photos, and the tales.

      I’ll say this — you’re a whole lot cuter than Dana Carvey’s Church Lady, and sweeter, too. Wherever you land, you’ll fit right in.

  35. One consequence of reaching a certain age is that more and more past years carry personal memories. At the Apple store a few days ago I bought a couple of cables. When the clerk tallied up the amount I owed, he announced “Nineteen forty-eight.” My reply was, “I remember that year, or at least I think I do.” It was on the borderline of early childhood memories, but I’ll give myself the benefit of the doubt. I clearly remember when my newborn sister came home from the hospital the next year.

    1. I don’t doubt that you remember 1948. My earliest memory is from my high-chair days. It’s purely visual, but all the details were corroborated by my parents: my description of our kitchen, the sight of my mother slamming a white enameled dishpan over a mouse that had its tail caught in a trap, the time of day. Of course I couldn’t tell time, but I can “see” the wall clock, with its hands showing 8:10 a.m. or so.

      While thinking about the incident this morning, I remembered a detail of my mother’s life that I wrote about at the time of her death. When she purchased a gravestone after my father died, she refused to have her date of birth engraved on it. She couldn’t tolerate the thought that people walking the cemetery could use that birth date to calculate her age. If she still were alive, she’d be horrified that I wrote this post. The thought amused me all day.

  36. There is so very much to love right here! Especially you and the wonderful way that you look at the world and your role in it. I love the looking forward!

    It’s interesting, those big birthdays. They do cause some thought, don’t they. The odd thing is that there are always the ins and outs of age, the creakies that sneak in or realizing they need to up the prescription for glasses. But I don’t feel older, and I don’t think you do, either. There is just so much to learn, to see, to do, to write, to feel. Until I’ve done it all, I don’t think I’ll feel old and I know you won’t! I think you’ve just started!

    I love the new format and your updated about page. It’s as fascinating as one of your posts! And the photo — well, I’m not sure I see you as a shadow, former or future, and yet it makes a perfect comment on your wonderful point of view!

    Now, about that birthday — you really need to tell me exactly when it is…

    1. The birthday itself is October 23. That’s one reason I scheduled my long midwestern trip as I did. It seemed like the perfect celebration. I never expected to come home with the perfect photo for a new project or two, but that’s serendipity for you.

      Now that you mention glasses and creakies, I do remember my cataract surgery, and the cherry juice that helps to keep a little arthritis in check. And yet, despite those being age-related conditions, they haven’t made me feel “older.” They’re just different challenges to be dealt with: like teen-aged angst, or learning to live as an independent adult.

      I’m glad you like the new format. The new photo, of course, has the advantage of being good for a few years. While I very much like the sailing photo, and didn’t want to eliminate it, it’s not as representative of who I am now. What will come next? Who knows!

  37. What a lovely post from a truly lovely lady! Happy belated birthday, dear Linda. We wish you all good things for this 70th year–and much beyond. Have a wonderful time. <3

    1. Such kind wishes, Dina. Thank you so much. Perhaps this will be the year I find my own faeries out in the big, wide world! If I do, you’ll surely know about it! ~ Linda

  38. Goodness, I see there is another Dina! I’ve never come across anyone with the same name as me before…..
    I did enjoy your abstract selfie, the shadow of your future self, and your forward thinking. What a marvelous post, you always express yourself so beautifully. I loved May Sarton’s poem, and the fact you waited for your 70th birthday to check out her experience of that age. I’m quite sure that where you have yet to be will be fascinating. Happy birthday, wishing you a wonderful year.xxx

  39. My first thought was that there are Dinas galore — but then I realized all the Dinah’s I grew up with spelled their name with that “h” — Dinah Shore, Dinah Washington, a classmate named Dinah. And of course Dinah has her own song, too. That’s all right. I’m sure she’ll let you borrow it!

    I love my selfie. It’s one of those photos that seems perfect in every way. It will have the advantage of wearing well, of course, and probably will do as nicely at 75 or 80 as it does now.

    The only slight anxiety I have about the coming year is that it may be the year when my beloved kitty finally departs. She’s clearly slowing down, is suffering from arthritis, and seems to be losing a little appetite and weight. At nearly seventeen, that’s all to be expected, though. We’ll just keep on trucking, and see how things go. I can still get up off the floor, and she still can jump on the bed, so we may be good for another year!

    1. Hahaha…here’s to you both being good for many a year! Wow…17 is a grand age for a kitty!xxx
      P.s…my name is Gerardina…don’t ask! Shortened to Dina in childhood.x

        1. That’s interesting about your name. My last name is one that is pronounced at least four different ways. It depends on whether the person has a German background and recognizes it as German, etc. I like your pronunciation — and when I see your whole name, I realize I probably would have said “Deena” if I’d seen that first.

          Yes, if you’re a spoiled indoor cat, you can put on a few years!

  40. About a decade ago I encountered Sarton’s writings and became quite caught up in her words. I often enjoy exploring further writings, if any, from those who actually knew personally whoever I’m reading — writer, scientist, or whoever. I recall reading one such person who said Sarton didn’t actually live her life as she described it which I found interesting. Brings into play how realistically we really see ourselves, or do we perceive our lives as we want them to be?

  41. It’s hard to say. Everyone who writes memoir selects details to include, and memory can be slippery. On the other hand, I always wonder about those who suggest that less than the full truth, or a different truth, have been recorded. An envious competitor, a scorned lover, a fallen-away friend, or a person who wants to claim a “special relationship” that never existed always have their own motives for writing. And, as Faulkner wrote in “The Town”, “…poets are almost always wrong about facts. That’s because they are not really interested in facts: only in truth: which is why the truth they speak is so true that even those who hate poets by simple and natural instinct are exalted and terrified by it.”

    It occurs to me that I might paraphrase O’Keeffe’s words in a different way: “Where Sarton was born and where and how she lived is unimportant… It is what she’s done with where she has been that should be of interest.”

  42. I really like your new template and photo. The second I clicked on this post, I was really blown away by your new picture. It is so serene and artistic. I’m glad to hear that you aren’t burning out on blogging. It seems like so many bloggers come and go across the years. At the beginning of January I started my 7th year blogging, and am beginning to feel like I’m one of the old-timers.

    I really like the line from Mary Sarton about how we become ourselves as we age. How true! It’s exciting to continue to discover who I am as each year passes.

    1. I’m glad you like the new look, Sheryl. I’m going to have to keep in mind how much I dithered over it, and how much I liked it once I made the change. Somewhere down the road I may grow stubborn over a change again, and need to remember this experience.

      There is a lot of coming and going among bloggers, isn’t there? I suppose the reasons can be as various as the people involved. I certainly miss some who’ve dropped out, but there’s nothing to be done about that.

      I like the thought that we become more ourselves as the years pass, too. I especially was caught by her line, “Now there is time.” It seems both counterintuitive, and true. On the one hand, there are fewer years left, but the pressure of time seems less. It’s an interesting phenomenon.

  43. I like the new appearance of your blog, and your post reminds me that I completed nine years of blogging last week as well.

    Will look up Mary Sarton, loved the excerpts you’ve pasted here.

    Happy Birthday, Linda, and here’s hoping the new year brings you peace and joy.

  44. Late to the party again, but just in time to tell you it’s a long time since I’ve read Sarton, and what a poem that is. Thanks for bringing it along to your new place…. And your revision of the O’Keefe line is crucial. The template is going to work well. I look forward to being inspired by you this year!

    1. There isn’t any “late” around here — not even for a metaphorical party. I just leave the door open and the light on, and whoever happens by is welcome.

      I thought that Sarton poem was exceptional. Some of her poetry is a little heavy on the self-examination for me, but this one seems just right. And I’ve been turning and flipping that O’Keeffe quotation for years, ever since I found it in Joan Didion’s “White Album.” That’s another of the books I turn to over and again — especially when I want to remember what the 60s and 70s really were like.

      I just put up a new, photo-heavy post, and I really do like the way the photos look, even with a two-column format. I could make them even a little larger if I wanted, but I have another idea for working with photos.

      So many ideas, so little time! I think you might be in Arizona now — enjoy all that fantastic scenery.

  45. A belated Happy 70th from me – in seven months time I will on the same page as you. I love your re-working of O’Keeffe’s quote. When we stop looking forward is when we start giving up on life. We have an archive to look back on life, but on our visual journeys as photographers our archive measures growth and progress and it is an inspiration to further work.

    I’ve been very conscious of my archive in recent weeks as I have been putting together a re-working of a talk for use in local camera clubs. Moving house, just over a year ago, and a whole year now passed in a new environment has been inspiring in so many ways. January may feel a dismal way to start the new year but it has been an opportunity to plan forward.

    It’s such a pleasure to be able to stand on the same stage as you and share our experiences through writing and photography. Long may it continue Linda.

    1. Thanks for the birthday wishes, Andy. You’re exactly right that looking forward is important, and I think what you say about archives applies to life, too. Our “archive” of memories and experiences also helps to measure growth, and inspires further work.

      It’s been clear from your postings that you’ve really been enjoying your new environment. I’ve always felt that way about moving. There’s a period of time when everything is new, and so much can be re-decided: everything from what possessions come along, to where to spend an afternoon. I know that moving is generally considered a hassle, but there’s something of the vacation to it, too.

      Won’t it be fun to see where we both are at the end of this year? Honestly, it’s hard to believe that January’s half gone — it’s time to get those archives sorted, and new projects begun. There’s a lot of sharing to be done.

      1. It’s been a challenging year – first house move in over thirty years for a start. Not sure how we got through it looking back. But the joy of the new has been special and inspiring. The Archive is getting a good rummage at the moment as I am busy re-writing a talk that I give to Camera Clubs. January always feels like ‘down’ time with weather that really doesn’t encourage photography but with rare and welcome exceptions. Where will we be in a year from now? Interesting thought. Still blogging for a start, I hope.

        1. I certainly hope you’ll still be blogging. For a beginning photographer, you’re a “perfect follow” — skilled, creative, and yet accessible. I feel perfectly comfortable asking you a question. That’s not true with everyone.

  46. Happy belated Birthday, oh how I so wish we would of made the effort to get together when you were in KS celebrating! I had a “big one” this year also, (a decade behind) and on my day, I just laughed and said “when did this happen”. I don’t look at it as getting old, I’ve seen a lot “older” younger people than me. I cherish each and every day and also cherish the past, even the not so good things in it, as that’s what made us who we are.

    I hadn’t read the books by May Sarton, so I ordered the Journal of a Solitude, I could of gotten it on Kindle and had it immediately, but there’s something special about holding a book, so will have to wait a few days. That’s okay, I plan to still be here. I love the idea of getting her book At Seventy and keeping it until….that day and I will be some place special to read it too!!

    I like your new format! I love your blog!
    Have a wonderful day!

    1. Thanks, Debra. I didn’t have any elk cake with mashed potato frosting, but it still was a really good day. What’s really strange is that I hardly remember my 50th or 60th — too busy with other things, I suppose. For my 50th, I still was building my business, and for my 60th, I’d moved my mother here from Kansas, and was getting used to that new routine. So, this was a year to just enjoy the transition.

      I know what you mean about older young people. On the other hand, there are days when I’m pretty sure I feel younger now than I did at forty. It reminds me of the line from Bob Dylan’s song, “My Back Pages” — the line goes, “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” That’s just the way it is.

      I finally broke down, bought a Kindle, and have used it a half dozen times in the past two or three years. Like you, I just like a book. On the other hand, I have a couple of big reference books now that also are available online, and it’s nice to be able to browse to find what I want first, and then go to the book, if I need more information.

      I’m glad you like the new format. I certainly do. It’s nice to make a change, and have no regrets.

      I hope you’ve made it through the weather without any problems. From what I’ve read, it was worst in the far SW corner of the state. Snow’s ok, but that ice can cause terrible problems — as you know.

  47. Thanks so much, Juliet. I wish that our society held old people in greater esteem. Elders traditionally have been the repositories of wisdom and tradition in so many societies. Us? Not so much. Of course, some of the elders we have running around right now aren’t particularly wise; so there’s that.

    One thing’s for sure. We all age, and we all learn to cope with what life brings. Right now, life’s very good for me, but I’m under no illusions. It could change in a minute. I don’t worry about it, but I do give it some thought from time to time.

    1. Yes, this is the link. A nice WordPress person explained it to me. When this post didn’t show up in the Reader, and I found the date on it was wrong, I thought changing the date to the correct one might pop it into the Reader. Well, not so. But, in the process of changing the date, and then changing it back, the WP system thought I had thrown it away, and marked it “trash.” When I added it again, it stayed as “trashed” instead of having the correct title.

      So copy and paste away. She’ll get to the right place. And thanks for passing it on!

  48. Oh I love this wonderful post! I didn’t mind turning 50, but for some reason 54 is troubling me. My life circumstances are threatening to change in ways I cannot control, old treasured ways of being are fading and sometimes it feels as though I am fading away along with them. You’ve reminded me that old patterns must give way to give room to exciting new ones. And, like Georgia O’Keefe, it is what I do while I am here that should be of interest. With that, I’m off to the studio! Thank you for once again brightening my day.

  49. Melissa, I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, and found it cheering. I don’t remember ever being bothered by any of my birthdays, although a time or two I did think, “Well, I survived that year!”

    But for some reason, seventy has felt special — energizing, and welcome. It doesn’t even bother me (much) that I’m still working, and will have to for the foreseeable future. Part of that’s because I enjoy my work so much. I don’t suffer any of the claustrophobia some of my friends did in the corporate world, and I do have the freedom to arrange my schedule as I please. That counts for a lot.

    The old is giving way to the new every day, if you think about it. Paul Graham, a programmer I’ve followed for years posted something his son said the other day, and it stopped me in my tracks:
    “You’re sad that you don’t have the 3 year old me anymore, but when you had the 3 year old me, you didn’t have the 8 year old me.”

    And there you have it. Just think — you have 54 Melissas, and I have 70 Lindas. What a gift!

  50. I’m late late late to wishing you a happy birthday, Linda. It’s obvious you did. Thank you for the gifts of thoughtfulness and provoking thoughtfulness that you always bring here.

    1. You’re not late at all. You’ve just extended my celebration a bit, and I thank you for that. Besides, I know how pressed for time you’ve been. I’m just glad that we’ve met, and I’m looking forward to another rose-filled year with you!

  51. By my absence from blogging I have missed your birthday by several fortnights. So, in this case more than acceptable to May Sarton I would hope, here’s a look back to say Happy Birthday rather more than belatedly.
    You have quoted much wisdom. I think we all have a tendency to review our lives at some point. I must admit that I do much too often…regretting this or that. However, it is wise to learn and take those lessons with us as we forge forward into the future. I’ve always considered the edge of time like riding a wave (not that I ever have been on a board). The ride can be rough or smooth, but it’s always totally new…despite what they say about history.
    I look forward to many more years of sharing posts as we acquire more time and experience (I hit the big 69 on Saturday). Onward…into the future

    1. What’s astonishing to me is that nearly four months have passed since my birthday. I’ve always heard older people talk about time passing more quickly as they age, and now it seems I’m experiencing a bit of that myself. Ah, well. More reason for both of us to celebrate. Happy birthday to you, too!

      I’m actually happy you stopped by today. Some posts are special (like photographs, I suppose) and it’s a pleasure for me to revisit this one. For one thing, it’s a reminder that I have a few projects for this year beyond a new template and new bio. Those were for January — I’d best move February’s project along before the month is gone.

      We’ve got some good years ahead. I love that Timbuk 3 song, despite the apocalyptic overtones, and loved the video. Sometimes a little wry humor is just the ticket, especially where aging is concerned.

      Thanks for the greetings — it’s nice to have you stop by!

      1. Thanks, Linda. I’m enjoying our exchange of music. I always liked that song.

        I think the switch happens at the point where we are no longer eager to be older for the privilege that brings and more in the moment, enjoying what life is offering and in no hurry to see it pass by.

        1. Contentment is greatly underrated, I think. Everyone talks about finding happiness, but it’s been my experience that contentment can sneak up and surprise us. It’s a lovely experience.

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