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Crooked Timber


When I was young, there was a line of demarcation between adults and kids. Now that line undulates, it’s smeary and inexact. Even in the second half of life, I don’t know nearly all I’d like to know, and, too often, still feel like a kid.

Here, I’ll write about life and change, and my hope is that you’ll write back. I’ll invite guest bloggers, too, and interview people with good ideas and interesting stories. This blog will be nothing if not an improvisation.

Partly, I’m interested in my demographic, midlife, though. It’s particularly interesting to me as a time when people are driven less by the mandates of the ego and more by the mysteries of others and the self.  It’s also a time when those so inclined finally figure out who they are, move their lives more in sync with that, do the things that remain undone for them, make peace with that which didn’t turn out as planned – or try again, uncover buried parts of themselves and discover new ones, face old dybbuks, find greater humility, simplify, edit, open themselves to a greater array of others, and please themselves more.

During these years, our kids leave home, we divorce, we stay married – comfortably or not, we struggle with body revolt and illness, aging or dying parents, sick friends or spouses or ones no longer here, ageism, starting over. I often wonder what happens for those who aren’t inclined to take another look. Does that make midlife easier or harder?  And what does it portend for old age?

At our stages of life, the future is a foreshortened view to the one we had when we were young and it seemed infinite. It was not about time then because we thought we had all the time in the world. Now it is, and it creates a greater pressure to do the things undone, to correct, repair, see ourselves and the world with fresh eyes.

It’s About Time, too, because with hand smacked on head, we find ourselves saying the phrase often when we finally do things that we feel we should have done a long time ago. For some that might be as simple as letting yourself sing when you’ve had a yen for 30 years, or finally saying no to someone to whom you keep saying yes when you don’t mean it. Or it could be about becoming a pastry chef when you happen to have spent 40 years being a lawyer.

David Brooks, writing for the New York Times, commented on words in 2014 from the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant: “Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made.”

Brooks interpreted this to mean that “we are, to varying degrees, foolish, weak and often just plain inexplicable – and always will be.” And, he added, “ramshackle and messy.” I love that because it’s true of all of us. And, if we choose, it can be a foundation from which we build.

In It’s About Time, I’d like to tackle the topics that we face from that zigzagged, imperfect, not always certain perspective. No matter how it looks, it’s not always easy for anyone. And then sometimes, it’s darned great. Here, I’d like to connect around the timber we share – crooked, stunning, serious, funny and the rest.

I offer the following, because I thought you might ask:

dyb·buk  dib’ək
noun: dybbuk; plural noun: dybbuks; plural noun: dybbukim
(in Jewish folklore) a malevolent wandering spirit that enters and possesses the body of a living person until exorcized.

(Write to me if you already knew it.)