Sunday, December 15, 2019

It's Now or Never

Peggy and Steve at the opening or our fourth biannual two person show at Wilder Nightingale Fine Art in Taos. We're downright giddy aren't we. The event coincided with my 78th.

I received a wealth of advice in response to last week's blog Turning Corners. It all came from folks between the mid-60s and 81. The rest of you slackers are too young to relate.

The distilled take is that I should narrow the scope of my investigation, choose one, or at least fewer, of my targets and get on with it. The consensus is Sell the Porsche, Buy the Sprinter and make whatever it is happen. This floundering has gone on long enough.

These comments have been lightly edited for clarity and to protect the innocent.

If I travelled four months at a crack I'd be as happy as John Farnsworth.

John Farnsworth, in Cusco, Peru as of Friday and who the hell knows where today, wrote:

“There went my morning! Being a bit older and not a bit wiser, there, probably, will go the next days, weeks, months even, wrestling with most of the same issues, plus a few of my own devising. 

I have, just this moment, made a decision, or had a revelation. Not sure which. I have had forefront in my mind for the better part of a year, “I’m almost eighty!”. In just over three months I will turn seventy nine. At that point, no, right now, I’m changing that thought to “I’m not eighty, yet!” 

Next, I intend to devote what’s left of my seventies to visualizing who and what I want to be during my eighties.

I intend to change my thinking from “the autumn of my life is almost over and I’m about to slide into winter” to, “Wow, this has been a chilly winter, but, hurray, here comes spring again”!

Here’s to new plans, new dreams, new accomplishments…

Whatever we do in the next years, let’s be sure to do some of it together, ol’ friend!”

Juan Viejo

To which I responded:

“Yes, we will do some or a lot of it together. I’m still at the figuring out stage. Good comments all, Juan. I think I’ll devote what’s left of what’s left to “being” what I want to be. That’s opposed to thinking about what I want to be. There’s been quite enough navel gazing.” S

Lindsey, the most popular cowboy in the known world.

And from dear friend Lindsey Enderby came step by step instructions:


         What’s next?

Bundle the fun; what can I afford, enjoy the most, and what would Peggy like.

           1. Sell Sports car

            2. Purchase Sprinter van

            3. Take guitar and speed 


             4. Keep camera handy

              5. Pick up camera and

                    guitar in daily fitness 


               6. Eat well and often

                7. Good wine (what else?)

                8. Keep and enlarge Blog

                9. Seek adventure

                10. Enjoy the slow pace

I’ll keep thinking.”


From me came:

Absolutely nothing.

Mark Asmus, all 6'-6'" of him. From the Immel Studio.

Mark Asmus said:

“I need to read this one over a few times.  Lots buried in here which we can all relate to.  Comments will follow. Good being with you Friday.  Assume you recovered your wallet.”

I responded:

“M. Lots to contemplate for sure. I’m still flummoxed. Yes, the coat and wallet were waiting for me. Look forward to your comments as well as further discussion. S”

Uh, your comments did not follow, Mark.

And from Anonymous came this wisdom:

“Hi Steve,

I always love your stuff which I get from whatshisname. Your musings have certainly resonated with me, as I turned 81 last week and have been assessing my situation for some months now. It had momentarily totally ruined my mood but, I'm happy to report making the decisions have lifted the huge weight and I am getting back to normalcy. I think this is what you're doing right now. And, yes, it is depression, something I don't usually wallow in except for maybe a few weeks at a time, not a month’s worth. What I did was decide to give up tennis and skiing and take up pickle ball. A few other decisions but essentially the first two weighed heavily on my mind, having to admit that I've just gotten too old to do those sports the way I want to do them.

One suggestion I have for you in the service department which may satisfy part of your longing and not tax you one iota! This fall, whatshisname and I met with a fellow (Louis Moya) at UNM Klauer Campus to fund scholarships for their students. For $500 a student, we are making a difference in some person's life. Yes, Louis assures us that $500 is a make or break amount of money for some of the students who can get Pell Grants but lack the money for things like gas, supplies, babysitting, etc. We were given about a dozen essays from the applicants and we chose three, originally wanting to choose only two until we saw how it worked. But, one more applicant was just too compelling to pass up. If you are interested in this, Mark and/or I can explain further and put you in touch with Louis. The Spring term is coming up soon.

Btw, I was impressed with your "Bucket List" and wonder if you haven't set the bar too high. It sets you up for failure and more depression! Pick just one or two. I know you love unsolicited advice! No, wait. You did solicit it from Mark so maybe I should run this by him before I click Send. Nah. I love shooting off my mouth!

Love and good luck.”

Jamie Hindman offered this:

Focus  on writing...mucch as I love your photography, given the nature of fine art photography art marketing, if you are looking for validation there you will make yourself crazy...There's work to be done as your stripmine your experiences and intuit the path ahead. Too many choices lead to overthinking I have found. Grab one and run.

A studio Portrait of photographer and friend, Daryl Black.

Daryl wrote:

"Absolutely adored this blog of introspection at age 78. Fred's comment? I want that breakfast right now. Lucky for you, we know many people who turned 80 this year, are 80+ and continue to be avid fourteeners and kick butt climbing mountains I Colorado and Nee Mexico. You should meet some of these folks. Just amazing. But first, you asked for it and here it is. Start jettisoning the emotional baggage for the Porsche, prepare it for sale, and buy the damn Sprinter. Heck, you were talking about that years ago when we were out on photo shoots. Those two things would really set the tone for other things might want to do. Giving back would be easier as well if you had the Sprinter. You could go yo wildfires, floods, etc. and offer your services. You could get stories and take photographs in the process. A real photojournalism workshop in progress. I am so happy Terry T has asked you to be a second shooter. You'll be a great team. So, so much potential coming up, Senor. As they say in the Times, we will look forward to reading all about it."

To Jamie and Daryl’s comments I responded:

“Thanks to both of you. Good advice all around. There’s a groundswell for losing the Porsche, buying the camper van and wandering forth to find stories worth telling. And there’s a plurality that says stop drowning in an ocean of choices. Pick a gold ring and reach for it. Decisions, decisions. Yes, to the writing.”

I’ll say this. It’s sure easier when you write my blog for me. Peggy said she didn’t know that I was that I was so depressed by 78. I told her that I was maybe possibly in a funk for half a day but “How dare you say depressed.”

It’s gratifying to know that others (everybody?) faces the abyss with a measure of trepidation and uncertainty. Most of us had made accommodations brought on by advancing age. Anonymous gave up skiing and tennis, my Spanish group cohort stopped skiing, like Anonymous Terry T has given up tennis for Table Tennis. I stopped road cycling and downhill skiing when I was diagnosed with Osteoporosis five year ago. Being the diehard that I am I will take that decision under advisement after my January bone density test. Cycling was the sport where I could still approximate my performance of early middle age, so it is not a fait accompli. Yet.

Garrett and his proud dad last Thursday.

Our son Garrett, age 52, visited last week and that was a tonic for this old psyche. To be close to your kid is an invaluable treasure. And to feel that the gap in our ages is smaller than the math suggests is priceless. To be able (still) to do the same adventures with the same appreciation and energy informs the immediate future and tells me that maintaining fitness, both physical and mental, is job one. “We exercise to preserve function” wrote author Jeff Jerome in The Complete Book of Running at least 35 years ago. That axiom has been my religion since the mid-70s.

So, I can’t tell you what’s next for me or how I’ll choreograph the next 78 years. I imagine I will choose what’s most compelling and get after it. Since I’m so scattershot the choosing will be the hardest part of achieving something of real importance. Choosing fewer goals means not doing the other things. And that’s just appalling.

On second thought it was harder to edit your stuff than to start from scratch. But it was worth it.


Blacks Crossing said...

Hola, Amigo! How fun to see the comments from last week's blog, and the consensus about selling your Porsche and buying a Sprinter van. But then that could be because folks want to bring their gear and come along for the ride. Regardless, as John Farnsworth intimated, a new spring is on the horizon, waiting to be embraced. Peggy, Garrett, and your compadres will be there to give you at least two cents worth. It will be a great ride. As a friend always says "It's gonna be fun! Just wait."

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