At this stage of my life, the number of things I realize that I’ll never do steadily increases. I don’t know when I began to notice the deadlines that were slipping past except it was years ago. Some things could still happen, and I’ve given up anyway, as a precaution I suppose.

By the time I discovered bicycle racing it was already too late for me to be in the Olympics. I won’t be a sprint or points or roadrace champion. I’ll never run a 4-minute mile either, or a 10-minute mile for that matter. My six-and-a half-minute mile will have to do.

I’ll never play for the N.B.A. or the N.F.L. or the the N.H.L. or major league baseball. I’ll never win Wimbleton or the Masters. I’ll never get a black belt in anything but a thrift store. I’m probably never gonna climb a mountain, unless I could do it over a period of weeks.

I’m never gonna win a Nobel prize or save a child from drowning or rescue a damsel in distress. I’m never gonna be with a woman more than twenty-two years. In fact, I may not be with another woman at all, a most depressing thought since I seem to be part dog.

I’m not gonna be a hero to anybody, although I realize that the phenomena I know about are few and probably trivial.

I’ve forgotten his name now, but soon after we moved to Chico, I took a workshop with a guy who talked about people wearing metaphorical sunglasses that filtered out some wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation, so that we simply aren’t aware of some things. I’ve discovered enough of my filters to think that I’ll never know about all of them. Giving up on perfect knowledge is a relief and seems to go along with a willingness to accept whatever shows up without any particular expectations or prerequisites for happiness. Following a star doesn’t mean you expect to get there, just that you’ve picked a direction.

I’ve also abandoned the idea of being a grandfather, which not long ago was a life goal for me. Grandfatherhood is clearly beyond my influence, much less control. Our eldest son recently became a father, but that doesn’t count. Although I call him my son on Facebook, that’s only because there’s no “stepson” option, and he and I have long been clear that he has a father, and it ain’t Anthony.

I’m also never gonna win an Academy Award for anything, having stumbled on those possibilities way too late to start such a journey.

I don’t suppose I’m ever gonna explore much beyond my inner life or discover anything important past my eyelids, which seems to be quite enough, thank You very much.

And I’m never gonna get used to Janice not being here. I try now and then, and occasionally I think I’m moving on, but only for a little while. Sometimes it seems like she’s everywhere, but mostly she’s just not here with me.

Posted Monday, September 8th, 2014 under aging, expectation, forgiveness, perspective, self-satisfaction, Uncategorized.


  1. Another good one. Thanks for putting this down. As I age, I wonder about what I won’t accomplish – let alone start. I don’t think about that often, but every blue moon….

  2. Oliver Steinberg says:

    At one point in my youth, I “gave up” on certain expectations. Today I heard on NPR that the quality which distinguishes those who get things done from those who don’t is something they call “grit.” I think that it means “determination” or even “stubbornness.” Or perseverance, a more polite expression.
    For myself, I’m deficient in whatever it is. But I accept that now, and this column which I interpreted as expressing similar thoughts seemed to evoke that memory of “letting go” of those erstwhile ambitions . . . which then were recognizable as mere fantasies. Yet I had had my head into them so far that I never totally quit dreaming.
    And so I kept for many years a scrap of paper to look at for inspiration, on which was scrawled a translation from a passage in the Talmud: “It is not upon thee to finish the task; neither art thou free to abstain from it.”
    That has sufficed.
    As for grandchildren, I know your sentiment, being perched in a parallel set of circumstances. Last night, a chance meeting with a couple about our age disclosed that they had three children and 18 grandchildren. It seems their daughters had decided to all move to Israel, become ultra-orthodox Jews, and start reproducing like mad. I concluded there’s no shortage of grandchildren on this crowded planet and what’s so great about my&spouse’s DNA that it needs to squeeze in with all the rest?
    Last comment . . . but my first reaction to reading this column: You’re a hero to me (and to my wife and daughters.)

  3. Oh, man, Tony, that was right ending. It took the air from my lungs but it was beautiful.

  4. Thom Smith says:

    Giving up on attaining perfect knowledge of ourselves I think is a major step to some place, piece of mind, something. But many years ago I asked a Tibetan monk what he was going to do next. His reply – “Whatever comes.” I was stunned as I was one to keep a steady look-out, not wanting to get caught with my pants down. Whatever comes is a great answer and I wish I were there.

  5. A lovely lament. I think about what I can still do which then I smash into thoughts of what I can’t do or never going to do. I do like to think that I know more now and am willing to do some things that others are afraid of doing and that I was afraid of doing. Fear seems tiresome over 55.

    I love your writing.


  6. Susan Sakash says:

    Excellent observations. Now make a second list of everything you HAVE accomplished. If you’re thorough, it will dwarf your will-never list. And yes, Janice IS everywhere. Even if you can’t see her physical presence, that includes with you.

  7. David hopper says:

    You will continue to think and write.

  8. Susan Sakash says:

    Of course you don’t take credit for your accomplishments. In addition to your other qualities, of which there are many, you are also humble. :-) That’s okay, we know how amazing you are whether you say so or not. :-)

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