Epitaph as way of life

Without any guiding religion or dogma, committed to rationalism and humanism, you try to orient your life with clear purpose. But it’s not straightforward. At age 60, an impulse led me to throw significant life energy into yearly day-by-day challenges, major or minor. I called it my Big Decade and it was just that, a planned decade of daily obsessions. In some ways, it was my “bucket list” writ large. I had a go at big writing projects, running goals, hiking years, some educational pursuits, even a year of meditating. I blogged about that time.

But after half a decade, the energy went out of that notion. Bucket lists can seem like keeping busy for the sake of remaining busy. At age 65, I canned the Big Decade approach and instead settled into a half decade of projects and life pursuits. This blog, Slow Glow to 70, signaled an attempt to journal comprehension into a haze of confusion. My first blog post set the scene.

Since then, irregular blogging has helped clarify some of that existential confusion. I’m now in firm control of where I’d like to be, notwithstanding daily tension and a sense of falling behind.

I’ve realized I’m employing the notion of epitaph to prod myself. I know it’s a cliche, but what do I wish to be remembered for? Well, for me I’m aiming for fourteen conceits. Examples range from over-optimistic (I revolutionize technology history writing with my upcoming, long-in-the-tooth book) to the prosaic (I noisily relish red wine and dark chocolate and fine dining and minestrone soup), to the customary (I love P and my family and friends, and show it). I gift a book/movie review website/blog (Read Listen Watch) to the world. I maintain energy and never “retire.” And so on and so on. I won’t catalogue all fourteen because in totality they are a mix of pretentious and banal, but you get the picture.

This slide towards a dozen or so mantras, of the form “I strive to do this or that,” was by no means deliberate. But now that it has emerged, it seems just the thing for this 65½-year-old gazing towards age 70. And this blog fits me like a tailored suit: a vehicle to talk to myself. A prod. A battle cry.

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