Last weekend The New York Times ran a column by a woman named Dominique Browning, and it made a very deep impression on me. The subject was aging, which naturally concerns me as an octogenarian, and she made a few points which have resonated with me and might interest you. After covering all of the negatives (creaky body, memory loss, etc.), she then said, "There is something profoundly liberating about aging." And went on to explain her main premise, which was....,You can just say, "I'm too old for this" to almost anything which aggravates you. Why waste time and energy on insecurity? About your looks? Who cares now? Be concerned about about your life, which is all you have? What matters most is the work. Whether it is an actual job or the work which sustains you every day. Does it give you pleasure....or hope? Does it sustain your soul? That hit home to me. To speak personally for a moment, I have reinvented myself several times in my life. ....and you can and should do the same! I began my adult life after college as a Broadway press agent, then became a high-falootin' public relations consultant, a career which ran successfully for many years. Through a movie studio client, Cinerama, I almost accidentally transformed myself into a movie producer, and that sustained me happily for several decades. Moving to California in the early '70s to produce "Lady Sings The Blues," I missed the routine of writing every day, so I began sending out a chatty newsletter to friends and colleagues..which expanded into a whopping enterprise with my burgeoning Jay Weston's Restaurant Newsletter. Five years ago my life took a dramatic 180 degree turn when the L.A. editor of the Huffington Post, Willow Bay, asked me to write a restaurant review or two for the new online publication. It has blossomed to more than 500 columns and still counting. Huffington doesn't pay its writers and I'm often asked why I do this. Writing a daily column is actually hard work, requiring much research and time, but as I said earlier, it is the work that counts. Of all the lessons I can pass on to you, that is a key. Explore all facets of your life for something which will excite and satisfy you, then grasp it and hold on for dear life.
The key to life, said the New York Times woman, is resilience. You - like me and all of us - will have been knocked down innumerable times. Y ou just got up and started over. God knows I have done that all my life. I'm too old for hopelessness and despair Truly. Resiliance is the key to feeling 39 again, which is actually how oId I feel most of the time, even though I am twice that in actuality. A corollary is that one is never too old for love and desire. And it is just as easy - often easier - to make friends when you are older. There is comfort in.....predictability. She made the point: take a pass on bad manners, on thoughtlessness, on unreliability, on carelessness....and on all the other ways people distinguish themselves as unappealing specimens.
She concludes: "My new mantra is liberating. At least once a week I encounter a situation that in the old (younger) days would have knocked me on my knees. Now I can spot trouble ten feet away and I can say to myself, 'I'm too old for this'."
I received an advance copy of Peggy Noonan's new book, "The Time of Our Lives," and was struck by her comments: " Writing is a full-body exercise. What you write comes from your brain, heart, spirit, soul and psyche. You hold nothing back, all parts are engaged, you are asking people for five minutes of their time to read you. They're busy; you have to show them from the top that you're engaged, that you mean it, that there's something you think is important that should be said." And she ends with David McCullough's observation, "To write is to think, and to write well is to think well. You think about what you want to say, you clarify it, question it, then say it." That's how I write my daily articles and that's how I hope you read them.
To subscribe to Jay Weston's Restaurant Newsletter ($70 for twelve monthly issues) email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.