Tag Archives: sacred aging

A Passport- a gateway and a journey

I just received my new passport. The old one was expiring and I dutifully followed the instructions, got a new picture, completed the DS-82 form, mailed it and in the mail was the new passport. But I miss the old one.

I got the old one as I prepared to enter a new phase of my life, leaving a 30-year career in business to become a rabbi. Looking back, it has been a fascinating decade chronicled by this small blue book. Stamps representing my trips to and from Israel as a rabbinical student, my trips through the Former Soviet Union celebrating Pesach in Moscow and cities in Siberia, my honeymoon in Italy with Naomi as a newlywed, the trips to Israel as a rabbi, and a wedding in the Dominican Republic, were all documented by this small blue book with worn edges. Each page is a reminder of a very special experience.

I remember the process of obtaining it, completing other forms and taking other pictures that showed a younger version of me with more hair on top of my head and less gray on the face. The book was empty and new. It was literally and figuratively my passport to my future. Each of those stamps represented an amazing journey. Each was memorialized in that precious little book that I scrupulously guarded but whose inside page I copied just in case my best-laid plans to protect it was subverted.

Extraordinary memories of extraordinary experiences are evidenced in my old passport. It serves as a reminder that we continue to grow and each passing day is another page in our life journey. I reflect back on them and see something I learned and perhaps can share with others. My life is enriched and so too is my capacity to teach.

So now I have the new passport. The picture inside is of an older, current version of me. The pages are clean and new. I can only wonder about the adventures and how those pages might be filled over the next decade. The fresh pages beckon with anticipation and promise. I can only hope that when it is time to replace this contemporary passport, it too will worn and maybe tattered, filled with visas and stamps of exciting travels evoking meaningful memories declaring that my continuing life journey remains a rich experience of growth and sharing.

A New Chapter

 Naomi and I have entered a new chapter in our lives. A new phase in the journey that has brought us to an interesting, sobering and new place.

 I do not have a formal name for it, but people approximately my age/generation are becoming aware of it and those of you in the generation that has preceded us remember this time as well. I guess we are officially “middle age.” With all the talk of 40 being the new 30 and similar reframing, the fact is that in our 50’s we are in the place where mortality is showing itself as a real part of life. We have those krenks and pains, and some body parts are not performing as they once did. But even more sobering, some of our friends are not faring so well. They have real issues, confronting things such as cancer and heart disease, and some have died. Our parents are aging; many slipping, and many of them too are dying. We have entered that phase where these things are becoming the common and expected part of daily life, no more the stories of others from another generation, or the extraordinary event of someone we know. I am not sure precisely what this phase may be called, except for possibly “our new reality,” this next phase of our lives.

 It is strange and as a new experience it creates separation and aloneness. Yet it is a phase that we all experience. This is a time when our older generation can truly reach out to us younger people and help us make sense of this new place; for they have been here and have lived through it. Their experience gives them an understanding that we could use. If we could talk about it, the wisdom of the older would help us make some sense of it. We both would benefit from the conversation and the bonds that this sharing could foster. When we open up about our fears and how we navigate through them, we deepen the relationships between us figuratively and literally holding each other’s hand.