Archive for ‘Reflections on living’

March 1, 2009

Farewell to the Zeit Guy Chronicles

This is my last post in the Zeit Guy Chronicles blog. I’ve been focusing on the work at “born of silence” and will continue that. The current content of this site will be archived at This domain,, will be the new site for the born of silence  content. To confound things even more, that site will be renamed to “Drifting Awake.”

So starting later this evening, the gods of technology willing, these three URLS will take you to the same site —

I post much different material there, and I don’t want to send you unasked for email. So if you want to be notified of the new work, I invite you to register anew. You can do that starting tomorrow morning.

The content here at the ZGuy Chronicles will be archived at

Thanks for reading and may we all be well in these ever more interesting times.


March 31, 2008

A Boomer’s Reflection on Aging

In the April 7 issue of The New Yorker, Michael Kinsley reflects on aging, both his own and that of his generation. I’ve excerpted a small piece below.

We are born thinking that we’ll live forever. Then death becomes an intermittent reality, as grandparents and parents die, and tragedy of some kind removes one or two from our own age cohort. And then, at some point, death becomes a normal part of life—a faint dirge in the background that gradually gets louder. What is that point? One crude measure would be when you can expect, on average, one person of roughly your age in your family or social circle to die every year. At that point, any given death can still be a terrible and unexpected blow, but the fact that people your age die is no longer a legitimate surprise, and the related fact that you will, too, is no longer avoidable.


With some heroic assumptions, we can come up with an age when death starts to be in-your-face…


Anyway, the answer is sixty-three. If a hundred Americans start the voyage of life together, on average one of them will have died by the time the group turns sixteen. At forty, their lives are half over: further life expectancy at age forty is 39.9. And at age sixty-three the group starts losing an average of one person every year. Then it accelerates. By age seventy-five, sixty-seven of the original hundred are left. By age one hundred, three remain.


The last boomer competition is not just about how long you live. It is also about how you die. This one is a “Mine is shorter than yours”: you want a death that is painless and quick. Even here there are choices. What is “quick”? You might prefer something instantaneous, like walking down Fifth Avenue and being hit by a flower pot that falls off an upper-story windowsill. Or, if you’re the orderly type, you might prefer a brisk but not sudden slide into oblivion…

The boomer conversation on aging, like the aging itself, goes on. Click here for the entire article in print friendly format. Well worth the read if you’re a boomer or have boomer family or friends.

November 18, 2007

A Primer on Growing Older in America

What does growing older have in store? There is much literature on the subject. In researching through some of it I ran across 60 on Up by Lillian Rubin. It’s the best basic primer I’ve found on aging in this culture, aging as it is without the happy talk hype that characterizes much of what is written.

60 on Up is a clear-eyed, grounded account on what it is to grow older in America today. Not that some of this might not change as the great Boomer cohort passes through the “golden years,” but if the status of being older, of being old, of being long in years is to change, it is good to know from where we start. If you’re 50 on up, I encourage you to check out 60 on Up.

To check it out at Amazon, click here.
The author’s website is
You can listen to her interviewed by Michael Krasny on KQED’s Forum by following the link on this page.

November 2, 2007

Suddenly, I’m a Senior

It happened all of a sudden. Of course, I started getting mail from the AARP when I turned 50, but I ignored that until, in search of some good deals, I joined at 60. But I wasn’t really a senior. Now I am.

It happened when I moved to Davis, CA a couple of weeks ago. At the Food Co-op, I automatically get a senior discount, so at the check stand I say, “I’m a senior.” Yes, the public pronouncement of an identity that is troubling to Boomers. But what the heck, do I hide my years and avoid getting the “benefits” of age that this culture bestows? Me thinks not.

Additionally, I can get a free pass for the local bus system run by the student and city governments. Also available is a senior discount subscription to the local paper. (This so I can look for the obituaries of people I knew when I lived here 20 years ago.)

So I begin the next phase of my life. I could say I was late middle-aged or indulge in the death denying fantasy that 60 is the new 40 and 70 the new 50, but I won’t. Instead, with this post I begin to reflect here on aging (and my aging) in America. Sure, many of us will age easier and live longer. But youth, if not a youthful style, is a thing of the past. And after 60, certainly 65, so is middle-age.

While I may be a senior. I am not retired, nor would I likely ever say I was. For that identity changing declaration makes one irrelevant.

I close this post with two lines I wrote in splashing bird:

aging in two worlds

Singapore: old and perhaps in the Way
America: old and definitely in the way

More later.

September 24, 2007

Turn, Turn, Turn: When the Season is Grief

Below is a summary of some research on grief that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It modifies Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s famous five-step model of how we cope with loss. I’ve found it useful. The summary is from the The Atlantic magazine.

Researchers have long suspected that grief advances in stages, and Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s famous five-step model of how people react to a terminal illness—denial followed by anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance—is generally seen as the best way to understand the grieving process. Now a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association offers empirical data showing that a grieving person goes through a modified version of Kübler-Ross’s sequence: disbelief followed by yearning, anger, depression, and acceptance. The authors interviewed more than 200 adults in Connecticut who’d recently lost a loved one to natural causes, then followed them over two years. The participants were asked to report, at regular intervals, the frequency with which they felt each of the five emotions the researchers described. The results showed a surprisingly high, and steadily increasing, degree of acceptance throughout the grieving process; they also showed that yearning was the most commonly reported psychological response to bereavement. The five grief indicators tended to peak in the order predicted by the researchers, and to take an average of about six months all told to do so, suggesting that people who suffer a longer bereavement may want to seek help in recovering.
—“An Empirical Examination of the Stage Theory of Grief,” Paul K. Maciejewski et al., Journal of the American Medical Association

September 15, 2007

Infidelity Like Email, is Now Forever

Mix together our inability to live together with openness and trust with computer technology and what do you get? Among other things, an explosion of juicy (and sad) divorces. Now the record of infidelity, and not the engagement diamond, is forever.

From the New York Times:

The age-old business of breaking up has taken a decidedly Orwellian turn, with digital evidence like e-mail messages, traces of Web site visits and mobile telephone records now permeating many contentious divorce cases.

Spurned lovers steal each other’s BlackBerrys. Suspicious spouses hack into each other’s e-mail accounts. They load surveillance software onto the family PC, sometimes discovering shocking infidelities.

Click here for the full article.

March 15, 2007

Troubles in the steamy island nation

A year ago I was midway through a three month stay in Singapore. I hated the climate and loved the people. It’s a mostly ethnic Chinese enclave with a British past surrounded by Malaysia and Indonesia. This morning there is an article in the International Herald Tribune on the relations of Singapore with its neighbors. It well illustrates how national/cultural styles impact our ability to work and live together in our increasingly interconnected world. Click here for the article.

March 1, 2007

Commitments of the inauthentic self

As human beings we are always already committed. The question is not whether we are committed, but what we are committed to. In the ordinary, average, everyday, “mass,” self that the German philosopher Martin Heidegger characterized as “inauthentic,” we find embedded certain commitments that are easily recognizable when they are distinguished. I take the following from ruminations by Fernando Flores whom I first heard speak of this some 20 years ago.

Commitments of the inauthentic self

1) To look good
2) To no action
3) To assessment and assessment about assessment(s)
4) To offending and being offended as a permanent possibility
5) To already knowing the answer and to questioning for answers and not open to questioning as inquiry
6) To shopping for novelty

The issue is not whether these commitments are right or wrong or good or bad. Rather the more useful concern is what kind of life, of experience of living they give rise to and continue for ourself and others.

November 28, 2006

Nothing doing: Tao Te Ching, Chapter 37

This is the second chapter from the Tao Te Ching I’ve posted. I read in it frequently and delight in it like visiting an old friend. And like conversations with an old friend each one is the same and, at the same time, new. These posts are not translations because I don’t know Chinese, but rather are renditions based on the translations of others, a verbatim translation, and my reflections.

Following this chapter are three versions of this so far timeless classic of you might like.

Chapter 37

Tao does nothing,
But leaves nothing undone.

If leaders could grasp this,
all things would transform themselves.
Transformed, old desires would release their hold
through a simplicity without name.
Uninvolved with new desires…peace.

And the world settles itself.


1) Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu, translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English (The current “classic” version.)
2) Tao Te Ching: A New Translation by Sam Hamill (My chapter above is based mostly on Hamill’s. If you read only one translation…)
3) Tao Te Ching: The Definitive Edition translated by Jonathan Star (The verbatim translation in the appendix helps keep the imagination within the bounds of the possible.)

November 12, 2006

Haiku moving to their own site

The haiku now have their own site. They belong to a related but distinct sensibility from that of the Zeit Guy take on living in interesting times. The haiku can now be found here.