Living in the 70’s is the name of a song and an album released in 1974 under the Mushroom label by the Australian band Skyhooks. My writing will not be about the 1970s but reflect on the nature of the human condition. Thus the words of the song resonate with the insecurities and challenges of having entered my septuagenarian years:
I’m livin’ in the 70s
I feel like I lost my keys
Got the right day but I got the wrong week….
Life has its grey areas and in my late 50s, life was a constant transition brought about by health, career-ending events, taking on new challenges, and – dare I admit it – my age
Now I am in my seventies I find myself coming to terms with the rapid transitions in what it is to be a septuagenarian. But, in 2017 I spent the half of every weekday in Italian classes in an Italian University with foreigners who are mostly in their 20s and 30s and that has once again set me on an accelerated pattern of identity formation.
In one of my careers I was an academic, which is a constant challenge with the universal critical question, “Why is it thus and not otherwise?” But one of the habits of academia was constantly reading myself – was my lecture good? Am I keeping up with my peers? Am I doing the right thing by my students? And my identity was strongly tied up with the nature of the work, its importance, the cachet of being a researcher, a teacher, and an academic and where I fitted in within the community of scholars generally and in my discipline. It is a habit of self-evaluation, which I have not lost.
My writing is therefore much more than the grumblings of a man refusing to grow old. It is to reflect on the important life questions which are critical for my readers of all ages. And for me.