Sunday, February 01, 2004

Yesterday I read the first two chapters of Carolyn Heilbrun's The Last Gift of Time: Life Beyond Sixty. Friends who know me will scoff when they read this. What on earth are you doing that for? Aren't we still middle-aged?

Over the past two or three years I have become acutely aware that there is a limited amount of "good" time left in life. With that as a given, I've found that I'm aware on a daily basis that I have to do everything possible to make the most of it--to spend my time making sure that I make headway achieving the things I most want in life and that I have enough time left over to enjoy the people, places, and activities that mean the most to me. So, with this mindset, I'm attracted to books, particularly memoirs, that grapple with the aging issue.

Heilbrun, who committed suicide last October at the age of 77, wrote this memoir when she was seventy. An early chapter describes her experience buying a house for herself when she was 68--a house for her solitude. As her husband pointed out to her while lounging at their place in New York City, "We already have a house." This, the "country house," is one they share with their children. Heilbrun wanted a place for her own, a place she could go to just be alone with herself. I was entranced with this idea and found her experiences buying a renovated old barn fascinating.

Yesterday I turned to these two books (see yesterday's entry) because I can't bear to finish Oracle Night (December '03) by Paul Auster. I have just twenty pages left to go and it will be over! I'm heartsick! The story begins with a blue notebook--not just any notebook--but a notebook of substance, a Portuguese notebook with heavy, grid-lined paper. Within its pages, a novelist recovering from a life-threatening illness, without prior thought or planning, pours out a story. More when I finish, if I can bear to read the last page.


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