Middle-aged people shrink, crease, fade, and, if they’re lucky, slowly lose the desire to be noticed, the way we once lost our childhood taste for Necco Wafers or Pez. My desire to be seen is gradually being replaced by the desire to see: the faces of those I love, the cardinal in the bush, the socks of the woman with multiple sclerosis who swims at the Y.
The challenge of running The Sun continues to occupy me. Sometimes it occupies me like a conquering army, sometimes like the Holy Ghost. Either way I’m grateful for the chance to do this work month after month, year after year — a man happy to have found his cross to bear. Yes, even living your dream can feel like a burden now and then. But, my oh my, to live your dream! And not just when you’re sleeping, but every morning when you open your eyes. Then you sit in the dark and write a few words. Then the sun comes up.
Sy Safransky’s Notebook, May 2006
Lynn Casteel Harper On New Ways Of Understanding Dementia
Askey: How do you think we will look back on our current treatment of people with dementia?
Harper: I think we will see how incomplete our approach was: The obsession with a cure. The overuse of psychotropic medications to “manage distressing behaviors.” Only something like 10 percent of that is necessary, research shows. A lot of those psychotropic medications are dangerous for people living with dementia.
I loved my father’s body. It worried me, too. . . . I didn’t know what polio was, but it sounded scary, and he had survived it. This helped form my view of him as someone who could survive almost anything. Like Wile E. Coyote, he might get hurt and maimed, but he never, ever gave up.
I had thought nobody understood dark matter — that it was, fundamentally, an encapsulation of all we didn’t know. But it turned out other people’s lack of understanding took the form of complex theories, mathematical equations, computer programs that turned impenetrable data into different impenetrable data. Other people’s confusion was a castle you could live inside, a whole architecture of the unknown. My confusion was a wall I kept walking into.
Poems About Departures
Listen to the poets in this month’s special poetry section read their poems about leaving and letting go. To listen, click the play button below each title in the article.
I will leave you, / and I will / leave the sudden // darkness of afternoon thunderstorms / and I will leave / the rain and its patience in shaping mountains
— from “I Will Leave,” by Michael Bazzett
I am here to translate my father’s death / into fruit. Something that can be held. To bring / it up to your lips the way I spooned strawberry / yogurt up to his and said to him the word “Eat.” / There was no use, in the end. There was no hunger.
— from “I Did What I Could to Keep This,” by Peter Markus
Tonight, because all matter is dissolving, you & I / are being gradually undressed by the universe — // silk & wool molecules mingling with cells / rising from skin like souls
— from “Everything,” by Terry Lucas