I Do Therefore I Am With My Apologies to “The Reader”


Even for us it has been an extremely busy summer: My wife Linda’s work. My work. One to four granddaughters living with us over the course of six weeks. The new book in publisher review. Travel. Staying current with what’s being written in my field.   Sogetsu Ikebana. TV appearances. Attending to my own becoming which, as a human development expert, is as much a part of my daily integrity as physical workouts would be for an Exercise Physiologist. The normal demands of home ownership and being in society. Coursework. My ongoing writings, including these blogs. Watching, slack jawed, national political campaigns unfold. Guests and dinners. Beginning the all-new new book project.

Yesterday morning my friend Eric and his bike appeared as scheduled at 6:30 am in our driveway. He rides every day and can leave me in the dust, but slows down for companionship rides with me once or twice a week. Rick knows I can always ride our 16-20 miles, punctuated by a stop at Coffee World at around the 14 mile mark. He also knows that I can’t (and don’t want to) go as fast as he can.

Which brings me to the crème colored leather chair in our family room that looks out onto the lake. Stick with me here. I promise to pull all of this together.

After returning home from the bike ride with Eric, I showered, dressed and sat down in the chair intending to bounce right back up and get to work. Instead I spent the day sitting there. Admittedly I took client calls, did my email and eventually cooked dinner for Linda and me, but for the most part I read. No music. No tv. Just our wonderfully silent house and that pile of reading I had been looking forward to.

As I sat there reflecting, all of this brought two experiences to my mind.

First was an encounter with the man I still think of as “The Reader”.  We met him only once, several years ago, at a local party. I’ve long since forgotten his name or what he looks like, but he made quite an impression on me. He was in his late 60’s and had been retired for a few years. When I asked him how he spent his time he said his life was a circuit between his best reading chair and his favorite used book store. He’d buy a few books, go home and read them, and then go buy more books so he could go home and read some more. For variety he would sit and read outdoors instead of inside. He was serious and his wife verified it. I was quietly flabbergasted. How could a grown man not exercise his gifts in some contributory way?  I can see now that I owe The Reader a quiet apology. His lifestyle wouldn’t work for me, but he was and is free to choose for himself.

Second was a Nextel ad campaign selling cell phone services. Plastered on city buses and billboards with bright yellow backgrounds and black print were the words: “I do.  Therefore I am.” I was not so quietly outraged. Did they actually mean to suggest that existence depended upon being in motion? Had we lost our right to NOT do and still be?  Existentially it stunk and I wasn’t happy about it. It was easier to suck me in then than it is now. And I still think the campaign was designed by young savants with little life understanding or interest beyond new and motion.

Which brings me back to the crème colored chair; my repository as it were for the day. It was only one day and it isn’t a pattern, but I do think being able to sit there for a day and mostly read is a step forward for me. It’s a pleasurable After 50 gift I could not have unwrapped or appreciated much earlier in my life. And I’m looking forward to another such day eventually. Just knowing I can do it is comforting and I may, like many of us, have to get better at it when I am much, much older.

What are you discovering about your own After 50 gifts that you couldn’t have appreciated or enjoyed much earlier in your life?


4 responses to “I Do Therefore I Am With My Apologies to “The Reader””

  1. Barbara Bechelli says:


    You + creme colored chair + stack of reading = a very good day. I am delighted that you are giving yourself permission to do this. I am doing the same for myself.

    Your pal,

    • George Schofield says:

      Hi Barbara. Thanks for your response. The chair is real. It has also become a meditation metaphor sometimes. Happy you can go to your structural equivalent. Best. George

  2. Jari Searns says:

    Ah, George, you do manage to ask the most probing questions that truly cause one to stop and think. There are so many things that I appreciate so much more now that I am no longer responsible for day-to-day business activities at our company…and you know it’s really taken me months to get off that speeding bus of daily activity and to do some serious thinking about where I am and where I am going. I too take days now just to read for the shear pleasure of the enjoyment of a really good book. I appreciate my friends a whole bunch more than I did when I was working…I’m truly interested in them, in what they are doing and in sharing time in their company. And if I loved painting before, well, now I wrap my painting time around me like a beautiful gown and revel in the joy the comes from creating something you really truly like. Previously I often painted to receive the verbal approval of those who saw my work…now I paint for me and the joy that painting brings me.
    You know George, life has become even more precious to me and I really do love every day whether I’m busy running around doing things I want to do or I’m home by myself just enjoying being….

    • George Schofield says:

      HI Jari

      What a lovely response. Makes me think of your large painting of the hereon with wings open. I’m happy this is turning out to be such a rich time for you.

      As I recall your retirement was not universally applauded in the beginning but you persevered.

      Looking forward to seeing you when you return in December, and thanks for your thoughtful comments.


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