I find myself, more and more often these days, in a mood where my books fail me, where it is difficult to lose myself in them as a way of escaping into a whole new world for an hour or two and leaving all my troubles behind in that other world, the one in which I live and work. Maybe it has something to do with the economy and the huge hit that my hopes to retire sometime in the next year or so have taken. Maybe it's because I actually believed that our new president was going to deliver at least a little of the hope and change he promised - and all I've seen is more of the same from him and his cronies. He seems to be nothing more than the product of the corrupt Chicago political system that created him, and that makes me sad. Even sadder, the other side has nothing to offer in response, so the country is in a downward spiral it will be lucky to survive.
But, more likely, my mood comes from the rather sudden way that I find myself surrounded by so many friends and relatives suffering serious illness. Yes, I know, deep down in my heart, that we have reached the stage where we are "too old to die young," but that does not make it any easier to handle. One cousin, two years younger than me, is suffering from stomach cancer; another suddenly finds that she is in stage three colon cancer; a good friend I've been negligent about staying in touch with breaks the news that he has kidney cancer; and my best friend's mother-in-law, a woman I knew for more than 25 years dies of lung cancer less than 90 days after being diagnosed. My father, fast approaching 87 years of age, is still fighting the good fight, trying to make the most of what his body will allow him to do, but it breaks my heart to watch him struggle a little more with every flip of the calendar page.
I suppose this is all part of the process of growing up and that it has probably taken me longer than most to finally get there. On the flip side, I have been blessed with an interesting life and a wonderful wife who supported me in every dumb move I've made over the last 39 years, my two daughters have grown into caring, competent women, and now there are three youngsters coming up in the next generation.
Don't misunderstand me. "Is that all there is?" is not my point. I'm only wondering why I did not take the time to appreciate it all more when it was happening and I'm promising myself that I will appreciate the rest of my life - while I live it, not looking backward from some point in the future.
But enough of that...back to books tomorrow, I hope.