In mid-September, Nancy and I headed south to participate in my COVID-postponed 60th high-school class reunion. While in Southern California, we took the opportunity to visit the gravesite of my parents and to rendezvous with my nephew and Nancy’s long-ago friends. Driving down and back, we tried to follow the sensible-senior-travel guidelines proposed in last month’s post. Here are some mileposts along a nostalgic excursion reconnecting past to present and youth to age. 

During the second half of August, Nancy and I toured Oregon’s dramatic coastline, riding all the way on US101. With one trip we accomplished two objectives: escaping mid-summer heat and wildfire smoke in our San Francisco Bay Area and becoming better acquainted with a region we knew only superficially from prior drive-throughs. For two weeks we ventured out from basecamps in Yachats (“YA-hats”) on the central coast and Port Orford in the south. For this blog post, I’d like to share with you four trip components: an outward-bound adventure, key roadside attractions, overarching impressions and some reaffirmed travel lessons for seniors. 

For this month’s Agile Aging post, I’ve invited fellow seniors to join with me in reflecting about forks in the road on our life journeys. Can each of us recall an occasion when we confronted a choice between diverging routes? What influenced our decision? Have we ever wondered about the path not taken? How might we and our journey have turned out differently if we’d veered in the other direction?

This month’s Agile Aging post explores how youthful impacts – encounters and relationships, experiences and inspirations – can influence the adults we become and the seniors we remain.

Seven blog subscribers have generously shared their recollections and reflections.

Like many of our senior peers, now that Nancy and I are fully vaccinated, we’re eager to emerge from COVID isolation. Yet with herd immunity still elusive and new virus variants a rolling threat, our cautious vacation strategy is to drive to a remote destination and enjoy its attractions in relative seclusion.

Our latest excursion took us to California’s North Coast, moseying from Bodega Bay to Mendocino along the Shoreline Highway, State Route 1. We’d been to this stretch several times before over the past 50 years. But rediscovering can be reenergizing. These journal notes home in on two historical landmarks. Both sites have played surprisingly pivotal roles in California’s political, economic and environmental development.

The coronavirus has exacted a horrific toll, infecting over 120 million victims worldwide, killing nearly three million. Problematic variant outbreaks continue to flare. But pandemic lockdowns and isolation have also inspired adaptive creativity – telemedicine consultations; working and learning from home; Zoom calls and conferences; remote performances, lectures and panels; exchanged video clips and entertainments.

I’ve been particularly impressed and encouraged by the blossoming of creative writing by fellow seniors. Retirement invites reflection. Isolation seems to have nourished a distinctive vintage.

I’d like to devote this month’s post to three diverse samples, reproduced with their authors’ permission. My hope is that these evocations may stimulate your own Agile Aging energies.

I’ve always been fascinated by border cities, straddling and linking cultures and regions. Istanbul is my prime example, clasping East to West, Anatolia to the Balkans, Asia to Europe, Islam to Christianity, the mysterious Black Sea to the bustling Mediterranean. Its name-changes keeping pace with its waves of occupiers: Byzantium for the ancient Greeks, Constantinople for the eponymous Roman Emperor, Istanbul for the Ottomans.

Nancy and I explored this beckoning metropolis in 1975, primed for a big-city experience after two years in East Africa. Her memories for detail are sharper than mine, but we both shared the enchantment of what was then still a pre-high-rise Turkish hub.

Our Agile Aging blog advocates proactive, mindful maturity. Peer Profiles illustrate this engagement with case studies of exceptional seniors, pursuing creative initiatives or wrestling with daunting challenges. Blog subscribers may remember John Phillips and Rancho Cielo, rescuing teens from the conjoined whirlpools of gang violence and repeated incarceration (Prior Post, July 15, 2019); Shirley Buccieri, figuring out how to organize and enjoy solo sojourns abroad (September 15, 2019); and Bill Dahlman, retraining his nervous system after a debilitating stroke (October 15, 2019). The rest of us may not be able to duplicate these singular achievements, but we can take inspiration from their energy and grit.

Shary Farr is devoted to another facet of enlightened aging, one of increasing interest to us all. She helps fellow seniors plan and prepare for the end of their lives. Her approach is personal, collaborative and confidence-building. In a series of COVID-enforced remote interviews, she explained how and why she does what she does. 

I’m pleased to report that my November 30 blog post, “Election Reflections,” stimulated an unprecedented volume of feedback. More important than their quantity, those responses were intensely personal and thought-provoking. Going beyond mere comments on my original reflections, readers offered their own electoral opinions, analyses and concerns.  The collective enthusiasm persuaded me to devote this follow-up post to sharing feedback excerpts. These selections are reproduced with the authors’ permission but I’ve omitted senders’ surnames to protect their privacy. Individual readers’ comments are flagged with stars. Some animated respondents are credited more than once.

In the following reprise, I’ve retained the original Election Reflections topic headings to organize the feedback. You will also find updates of my own November observations. A final section suggests organizations we might support and activities we might undertake to contribute personally to national healing.

Let me again thank Shary Farr, whose peer profile had been the planned subject of this December post, for her gracious flexibility in agreeing to a postponement.