David Brooks asked people over 70 to write “life reports” and send them to him. He has posted several on his blog. I find them fascinating.
The stories document our culture over much of the 20th century (at 70, the youngest were born in 1941) as much as they do the experience of living. Their values, challenges, triumphs and observations are rooted in what it is to be human which is a process of continually becoming, not a static goal achieved once and put on the shelf like a trophy.
Those in their 20’s and 30’s may think folks over 70 are near the end of their lives. But none of the writers seem focused on the end as much as they are on the living process of becoming who they are. Despite the bad behavior some confess to, none of them are static, unchanging, nor accepting of the ultimate end, their deaths. Instead, they are actively engaged in writing the next pages and chapters of their lives.
Their stories underscore what I hear in Dylan Thomas’s poem, “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night“.