“Aging in place.” I’m borrowing a phrase, a bit of civil service administrative jargon that popped up at the City Council meeting on Dec. 15. It fits my mood and condition at the moment – and I will have a comment on that somewhere below.
This is the week when all newspapers, magazines, TV journals and all manner of professional associations, lay groups, politicians and pundits gather items from the closing year’s activities to salute, award, demean or otherwise celebrate with all the puffery they can muster. For the news media it’s often filler for a slow news season. It’s as though all year they were somehow just coasting along and suddenly remembered why they exist. It is a time for reviewing and recalling, almost like a trip to the confessional seeking absolution for real and imagined sins as we move on to the new year with but a whimper. This year would be different.
We are ending the year on a note of cacophony, as Congressional noses sniff the air and Senators and Representatives stand on their hind legs and inhale deeply to breathe a few nasty, not well-thought out comments about Obama. The junior senator, a Republican, from Texas, with the airy insolence of a spoiled brat, brought the Senate to its knees and rewarded the Democrats. The pungent essence of hate for our President has fouled the air for six years and will not abate now. The Cuban issue, for instance, is an opportunity for one last camera appearance. The true understanding of Obama will come during the next generation. The present generation does not deserve him.
The latest massacre of innocents in Pakistan underscores the depth of the moat dividing emotion from reason — so many divisions based upon religion, culture and just plain depravity. Humans will need another 500,000 years to properly evolve to a point where we can actually enjoy each other’s presence on the planet. Of the few comrades from my youth still around, one whose family was brought unwillingly to America over three hundred years ago still finds acceptance in our society a sometime thing.
There are some bright spots to point out….
After writing that sentence, I pondered for at least two hours to find a bright spot. The only one I could dredge up was a kind of general musing about the future, some talk about planning for a more pedestrian-friendly cityscape. In our little burg, a strategic plan is afoot for renovating the Eastside, long neglected by an “at large” City Council. Plans are firming up for a few “gathering places,” like the agora of old, I hope, with places to sit and chat and simply enjoy a rest, catch up on gossip. Perhaps there will be further regard for our infrastructure, our sidewalks, street intersections, overgrown street trees – the bloody awful traffic patterns.
Our changing climate (call it what you will) will have an effect on all living things, fauna (includes us!) and flora. (includes our food). The USA should be leading the charge for adaptation at least, but we some of our administrators believe the Christian Bible has a better view of things than any scientist and appear insensitive to any other authority. We’ll let them be the last in line for the next ark. I missed the deadline to sign up for the Audubon Christmas Bird Count – but there are no more birds around my house except a mob of crows a block away and the occasional screaming corsair, the mighty seagull. I’m hoping for birdsong this Spring.
There are no answers to the great questions that cannot be found within oneself. But it is important to continue asking for, as some know, “an un-examined life is not worth living.” Think about that between tweets, perhaps.
“Aging in place” sounds like the cold room at the meat market, but I do know what it means. Of our city’s population, 25 percent is over 55 years of age. How do we take care of that growing segment of our residents? Where do our citizens go when they are no longer able or willing to live alone as infirmity of one sort or another overtakes them? I’ve talked with many older people who have left the city for lack of a place to go when they must. What does a city owe its aging population? Incidentally, this has been a year of loss for me. as inevitable death has taken two jumior siblings and several dear friends. I would also include one pal of 35 years who has dismissed me because I do not share his ridiculous political views. He is well rid of me, I’d say.
Do I have hope for the new year? Well, yes. I have hope for every day. For one thing, I hope that the candidates for our Council will have answers to my 20 questions, the first being “Why do you want to be on the Council?” Please don’t tell me about your “vision for the city”. The time for visions is past, specifics rule the day.
While many people still find value in watching the movies “Miracle on 34th Street,” “A Christmas Carol,” “”It’s A Wonderful Life” and so on, I annually park myself in front of the TV with some good sherry and two hours of quiet time to see once again “Gunga Din,” a black and white movie that encompasses all the virtues, evils and dismay of humanity – but always ends on the same note: We are all equally valuable to each other.
Best wishes to all – as I age in place.
Carlton Cronin and his wife, Toby Ann, have lived in West Hollywood since 1974. They have raised four sons here, and Cronin, now 82, has long been an astute observer of civic life.