Philip Roth, one of America’s most celebrated novelists has retired from writing. Every morning he sees the Post-it note he stuck on his computer that says, “the struggle with writing is over”. It gives him strength he says, but it hasn’t been easy. After doing it every day for over 50 years. Roth says, it’s taken a tremendous burden off his back, “I’m free, I don’t have to slave over it anymore… I don’t have to endure the frustration (New York Times November 18, 2012). He still pens lengthy notes for his biographer, but says it’s a relief not to have to dreg his own life as the springboard for his fiction.
I marvel at his ability to let go while he’s still near the top of his game. The work of getting old is coming to peace with the truth of what you can’t or don’t want to do anymore; letting go of what no longer serves you. I want to get older like Roth, to slow down, change my m.o. and feel relief. I’m not quite there yet, I still get pangs of uncertainty that from slowing down, it’s only a brief slide to a complete stop.
Getting old is nature’s way of taming the ego. We either accept the truth of who and what we are now, or lament our losses. We can feel good, come to peace with our limitations, while still making contributions. If we can do that, then we have reached the blissful state called Radical Self-Acceptance. (For more on this subject read the chapter on Radical Self-Acceptance in my new book Kindling Spirit: Healing From Within.
What’s Roth doing now? He’s rereading books he hasn’t looked at in 50 years… Dostoyevsky, Conrad, Faulkner and Hemingway. Every morning, with his coffee he studies a chapter in iPhone for Dummies, pulls out his iPhone and plays with it. Portnoy’s not complaining, he’s simply found another instrument he can pull out and play.
Have a great Holiday season…Order Kindling Spirit: Healing From Within and I’ll sign it for you.
Peace and Holiday blessings to all of you Relatives, and remember to welcome your imperfections and shortcomings, they are as much of a blessing as your talents.
I say this For all my Relations, Mi Takuye Oyasin.