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Max Roytenberg

Max Roytenberg: Peeking Over The Rise In The Hill

by Max Roytenberg, May 15, 2013


So, we’re getting on in years.. We’ve retired from the job, or jobs, we held for many years. The wife, if she’s still with us, is busy with her gang of friends, or the children/grandchildren, particularly the daughter that’s in trouble. You hardly see her anymore, particularly if you’re not up early enough for breakfast. Maybe she leaves you a note what to take out of the fridge for supper, or makes a suggestion as to what you might make yourself to keep body and soul together. Things sure are a lot different from the way they were when you were on the job.


You never bothered much keeping in touch with the gang you worked with. You didn’t like them all that much anyway, and it was a relief not to have to deal with them anymore. There’s the gang at the Shul; you have been spending more time with them. They are always looking for someone to make sure they have a minyan.


More and more, the guys we grew up with are gone, the ones that were friends for life because we shared so much of our growing up with them. Of course there are the kids, so busy with their lives, their partners, their jobs, the grandkids. That’s always such a pleasure, but no matter how kind and devoted they are, if we are fortunate, and we earned some brownie points, we are in the end a distraction with a limited time allowance in the North American environment. That’s only fair. We were no paragons either in our turn. And if truth be told, we have only limited ourselves, as well, to bridge the growing chasm of time and experience.






Our society glorifies our achievements in the longevity arena. They make a great fuss, seventy-five, eighty, ninety, the big one hundred. There are solemn words and praise about our achievement as if we personally have been successful at a very difficult task. We, the lucky beneficiaries in a lottery involving good genes, improving health care and nutrition, heroic interventions that keep us more mobile and active, and accidents of place and time that saved us from wars, or a holocaust, a mugger, a drunk driver or a deranged neighbor, spouse or offspring. Yes, we quit smoking and reduced the liquor, sugar and fat, went for a regular exercise or golf game, but that was because those things made us feel better.


More likely the secret to our longevity has been an interest that kept us awake and active. Or we had a partner for whom it gave us pleasure to please, so we went hopping along to do the necessary for someone else, overcoming our preference for staying in bed or sitting on the couch watching television with some munchies in bowl in our lap. Perhaps that resulted in a new interest that kept our mind perking along so it wouldn’t atrophy. Isn’t it amazing the lengths we will go for others when we can’t be bothered to do the right things for ourselves?


And isn’t it amazing what wonders our young people are coming up with every new day we are around to see? Can you believe it? know I’m not going to be able to master a lot of these new things. I know I will have to be content in most cases to know what button to push to turn things on. I remember what a shock it was to master the computer in my forties and fifties. But, heck, I can drive the car even it if I can hardly understand anything when I lift the hood. I can always count on my grandson or my granddaughter to help me out if I run into trouble.



For myself, I seem to be motivated by all of the above, the partner, the kids, the new interests, the issues that exercise my mind and make me plain mad about what is happening even though I may have little opportunity to impact events. It sure makes me want to try, even if it’s only shouting about it in a public place. Sure, I want to do all those things that are not good for me, stay up all night drinking, eating things I love that are bad, lying in bed or on the couch watching television. But the truth is, I’m too busy. I just don’t have the time. By the time eight-thirty comes along at night, I’m all tired out from all the doing, the reading, the exercise, the shouting, the singing, the playing with all my odds and sods, that I just pass out. I’ll be up bright and early in the morning ready for another exciting day.


Sure the slope of the road gets a little tougher as we go along, but I just can’t wait to get up in the morning to get a peek at what is coming over the rise in the hill.


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