Looking Back II

I started the next chapter on November 29, 2013, as a retirement project. At that time, I was nearing the end of my first year as an officially retired person. I am now nearing the end of year three, and the next chapter continues. This post is a reprise of “Looking Back” and is a retrospective of the blog’s second year.

Teaching myself Spanish has been another retirement project. In my first look back, I did not mention that many of my posts are translations into Spanish of earlier English-language posts. The translations that appear in el capítulo siguiente are the fruit of my efforts to learn the language. I will continue translating my blog posts, and I hope that my Spanish improves in the process, pero sólo hispanohablantes pueden decir.

January 2014 got off to a lively start with a post about death. Though it is not a topic that often brings a smile, death is part of our common experience as mortal humans, and, for retired people especially, it is never very far away from our thoughts. This is true, at least, for me.

Also in January, “Dipping Into the Thought Stream” was a critique of the blog itself. I aspired to make the next chapter better by trimming the length of posts and expressing my point of view with more personality and spontaneity. I set a benchmark to keep my published rambles to a five-paragraph maximum, and I vowed to increase spontaneity by drafting directly to the posting page instead of laboring over off-line drafts.

The “Tragedy of Brian” (about former NBC Nightly News anchor, Brian Williams), published in February, was an opportunity to scratch the surface of thoughts about forgiveness and kindness. As I wrote at that time:

For the rest of us, we have become a community that is too quick to condemn without mercy, a community where forgiveness has become a strange and uncool concept. Being quick to condemn human failings in others, we have become blind to our own failings as a community–failings that may only be righted by each one of us deciding to step away from resentment and anger and toward healing the social fabric instead of tearing it apart.

In April, the next chapter foreshadowed the approaching spectacle of presidential campaigning. “Daydream Believer” was a wistful musing about Caroline Kennedy as a possible contender. The topic of health care was the focus of “Fixing the Formula,” a piece about the politics behind long-standing problems in Medicare payments to doctors. Health care is a recurring theme in this blog, beginning with “Fumbling Toward Health Care” (May 2014), and revisited in 2015 in “A Meaning Not So Plain” (examining the Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Burwell, which upheld a critical component of the Affordable Care Act) and in “The Next President: Health Care” (one of the six focus issues that the next chapter will follow in the race for the presidency).

May inspired “Retirement is the New Normal” (returning to the retirement theme) and two posts about the immigration issue, “The Error of Our Ways” (a review of Aviva Chomsky’s book, Undocumented) and “Rising Above the Babble” (questioning the meaning of “comprehensive immigration reform”).

In June, “We Discover Costa Rica” described our travel adventure and featured my 25 best photographs from Costa Rica. In July, in addition to “A Meaning Not So Plain,” I posted “It Ain’t Heavy,” another retirement piece. Figuring out what to do with my time in retirement has not been a burden, even though I have no master plan. For example, I read a lot—more than was possible when I was working full-time. In August, I wrote a piece about re-reading Moby Dick, “Hast Seen the White Whale?” which formulated the “immutable finiteness of life” and echoed the theme of death from January’s “Now a Pinion, Next a Spring.”

September, October and November kept me busy with Spanish translations of my four-part series on the immigration issue, first published in English in 2014, but in addition, September’s post “Caring for Our Common Home” addressed climate change and the encyclical letter from Pope Francis. I revisited the climate change theme in November with “The Next President: Climate Change.” The “focus” series on presidential politics began with “The Next President: Immigration,” posted in October, and included negotiations with Iran and minimum wage. The last of the six focus issues is campaign finance reform, and posts on this topic will appear in December.

The statistics reported for my website show that the next chapter has had more than 35,000 visitors in the last twelve months. I don’t know if I believe it, because there have been only a small handful of comments. I have written on a wide range of topics, all of them of interest, at least, to me. I have fallen somewhat short of my goals for personality, spontaneity and brevity, and I will continue to work on improving my blog-writing. Your comments, as always, are welcome. I am looking forward to the year ahead, as curious as anyone about what is going to happen next  in the next chapter.

 

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