A Few Rambling Thoughts on Changes

I haven’t done much snorkeling thus far on this vacation due to the reconstruction of the area around the harbor. The stone walls are being replaced because of damage done during the last rainy season. Each day I can hear the heavy equipment operating at the harbor, which is just 100 meters down the road from us. And, we have been doing some reconstruction of our own – thankfully nothing major with the house, but our large tree on the sea wall needed to be cut down. The roots have gotten so large that they were ripping up the small street that skirts the sea and runs through our neighborhood and the adjoining one. While nothing major, still another change. The benefit of cutting the tree down is that it gives me a clearer view of the sea from the balcony.

harbor construction

harbor construction

My second daughter, Rebecca, is struggling with finding a high school. She ended her national exams with strong scores, but there appears to be a lack of decent high schools in Singaraja. My wife spent the morning trying to get her enrolled in three schools, but they are already at their quota. We have to wait until Friday to see if a place falls open at one of the two. This is a major problem because I want my children to attend college, if they choose to do so, and they won’t be able to if they can’t get into a good high school. This is a major problem for Indonesia – to provide a decent education for any child that wants it. More on this later.

Another decade is about to pass for me. I turn 60. I’m working on mentally adjusting to that. I come from the generation that had the slogans like “don’t trust anyone over 30,” “ I hope I die before I get old,” “Die young and leave a good looking corpse.” Once many, many years ago during my SDS days back in Chicago, I was part of a group of kids working in the National Office on Madison who called ourselves the 18 caucus. We didn’t trust anyone over 21. I still have vivid memories of things that I did and said when I was a kid still in Junior High; so it seems rather…what’s the correct word? Maybe, unbelievable? Bernard Baruch said, “To me old age is always 15 years older than I am.” That pretty much says it.
Of course, people live longer now so my view of 60 is still based on my perceptions from my youth when 60 was the time to get ready to go. Many of my students have grandparents or great grandparents in their 70s and 80s, so it’s no unimaginable that I could live for another decade or even two. But the issue isn’t with dying – I’m OK with that – it’s getting old and feeble. A friend of mine wrote a blog recently about his 10 greatest fears, my major one is being demented or physically incapacitated and thus being a burden on the family.

One of my favorite poems when I was a young man studying literature at the University of Illinois was Elliot’s Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock:
I grow old…I grow old…
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to
eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and
walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each
to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.


~ by drbrucepk on June 29, 2009.

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