What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from…
T. S. Eliot
I thought these lines were quite appropriate when I spoke them at my retirement party last week. I used them at the end of my new book Mind Flight as well. There is a Yin-Yang quality to the words. Ends are beginnings; beginnings are ends. I tell people that I haven't retired; I have simply started a new life. But of course, to start something new means one has to end something else. In death there is birth, or as Eliot says in the same poem, "We are born with the dead."
Last year in a conversation I had with my friend, Janice Dorn, she suggested that we agree to get together when we hit a hundred to celebrate the event. I thought that since I was only 62 at the time, living to a hundred was almost the equivalent of another adult life span. And given the exponential advances in medicine and technology the chances are reaching one hundred are significantly increasing every year. It is not that crazy a possibility. I could have another whole adult life span ahead of me. So when we speculate on the question, if we could do it all over again, what would we do, or how would we do it differently, though we may treat this query as a question of fantasy, it may be that the question could actually have a realistic application.
I am going to start a new life - create a new paradigm - take what I know from the first life and apply it to the future - keeping what is of value and discarding what is not.
Coincident with retiring, I have (we have, Jeanne and I) finished our new book Mind Flight - almost to the day that I "retired." It was a synchronicity. I believe Mind Flight is a humdinger and a trip of a book. And I realized that, in coming to the final edits, it was inaccurate to say that I was finishing the book; rather I was giving birth to it. In ending it, I started something - set off a chain of events. I created a pathway into the future - a foundation on which to build tomorrow. I believe that when you read Mind Flight - and you should read it, taking it to the proverbial desert island as one of the ten books you just have to have with you - you will be amazed, shocked, mesmerized, and jolted. Ultimately it is a love story, but a love story of ideas and flesh, matter and spirit, good and evil. The first six chapters (with the prologue) are up on the web site, but the second half - the second six chapters - really ascend.
I am going to become a child again. I am going to become a student again. I have all these books to read and then review for you, the readers, of the blog.
I have included some new books on the blog list. Sawyer's book Mindscan I highly recommend as a thoughtful and informed exploration into the nature of personal identity, consciousness, and the brain. If you could have a new, relatively indestructable body and brain - having your consciousness and self downloaded into it (Kurzweil's hope for the future) - would you do it? It would be like starting over. I found it to be an interesting and quite appropriate book for me to read during the first week of my new life.
See the various new talks I am giving (sometimes with Jeanne) this summer and fall. I will be writing many of the blogs now - perhaps you will see something new and different in them. I have an idea for a new book.