The Joy of Senility
I am dealing with old age because it is smacking me in the face like a wet dishrag. But I have choices: I can ignore it, pretend it has not arrived, or I can get better acquainted with it, like becoming intimate with some repulsive trespasser who has moved into the neighborhood and now is getting overly friendly.
Still, I find old age fascinating. Where I was totally surefooted at 79 plus 364 days, the next day, on my 80th birthday, people began helping me down the steps and warning me of obvious dangers. They started to regularly inspect my shirtfront to make sure I wasn’t drooling my food, and on occasion when they found the spots they seemed elated – as if they saved the old man from terminal embarrassment. The year before, the droppings were merely the tracks of a sloppy man whose habits they had silently endured all those years like bird spatters on the window.
And I provide people with advantages they never had before I became senile. My memory has never been good. Like a tiny closet in which to store all of one’s old clothes. Now those around me can, with solid assurance, insist they told me something that they, themselves forgot to tell me. “You know how your memory is,” they say with raised eyebrows and a sort of patient solicitness.
Another thing: they expect wisdom where none exists. They demand it. The only reason they can respect an old person is because he is supposed to be wise. He is no longer attractive physically. He can no longer perform all those physical things that were once his duties. He can now be tolerated only if he is wise. But Wisdom — why have you forsaken me?
I feel harassed by time. There is only so much of it. I don’t want to waste it, yet I have no sure measure by which to properly make my decisions. I think, well, I could be dead in the morning, so I better eat the ice cream with that hot apple pie tonight. Hate to be on my deathbed wishing I had and all they give me is weak chicken broth.
I need to attend to certain chores I must attend to before I die. I have put them off all these years, like cleaning out the drawers of all the junk I have accumulated – thoughtless to leave such a mess for others to deal with. I can hear them now: God, he was a sloppy old bastard. You’d think he could have gotten rid of this stuff and not left it for us to haul off.
And there’s my failure to gather that which needs to be put in places where my family can find them, things I have written, poems, clever letters, and pretended insights, and I also need to discard things I wish I hadn’t written – you know – just cleaning things up a bit like you do for strangers who read you – why not for the family? But is that the way one should be spending one’s priceless last days?
No, the odds for an unexpected death in the next day or two, next week, even next year are not staggering. I will probably live a while yet. I have a lot of things to do – like writing another memoir about cases thought to be important. Or making the perfect photograph. Truth is, in a decade or less those cases will be forgotten and new important cases will appear along with new heroes who will be soon forgotten as well, which brings back the vision of hot apple pie and ice cream that should be approached and attacked and destroyed, bite at a time — the only justifiable warfare I know. Hot fudge sundaes will also do.
I look back on a long life. Thankfully I have forgotten much of it. Sometimes fleeting bits and pieces slip into consciousness just as I am going to sleep or waking up. I made a lot of mistakes, grew from them, hurt others in the making, tried to rectify my wrongs with service to still others, and, in the end, fell vastly short of my potential. But I had just as well be satisfied with what my whole life looks like, as altered to fit my comfort level. Had I been a better man, a more generous person, a more productive human being, a better father and husband, well, I couldn’t have kept abreast of that. One needs a little sin in one’s life to understand virtue.
What would I do if somehow I were able to come back? I think I would become a bank robber, a poet and a painter. Bank robbing is the ultimate virtue. Banks rob the poor and the powerless, throw old ladies out of their homes in winter and leave endless hordes of innocent children homeless. Bankers are the elite of the criminal element in this country. They are usurious and heartless, empty-souled and play golf. And they measure all worth in money.
A good bank robber who could rob back for the poor would be a major saint – except that the banks also own the churches who bestow sainthood. I should call the new order of bank robbers the Brotherhood (and Sisterhood – we will need a good female accomplice to drive the getaway car) of the Best of the Worst Bank Robbers, or B&SBWBR for short. Such a saint would live forever because infinite joy is an infinite extender of life.
Now to quote the most important of my role models, Sitting Bull, who, after he laid an invaluable hunk of wisdom on the tribe mumbled: “I have spoken.”
Dear Gerry, You really did it this time. I laughed, cried and laughed some more. May you drool on for years with more stories and tales of court battles. I too have been thinking of cleaning house of notes left here and there to be found when I am no longer here. I am getting started now before I have forgotten where I put them. I have spoken.
Love you Gerry, keep writing as your writing bring hope, laughter and a tear or two from time to time. I await your next one. Cheers
Just thought it might help you to know that time does not discriminate against age, sex, race, etc. There never serms to be enough of it and we always want or need more. Some of us get more than others. Loosing my daughter at the age of 7 has taught me to try to appreciate every damn moment, after all I have had 3 decades more than Madeleine. But its still not enough:)
You have nothing to worry about. You have achieved wisdom. You have done enough:) So have your ice cream and maybe a little scotch!
Well, one interesting point about living to a certain age is that you are likely to live further past the life expectancy tables. You have survived the illnesses that did others in your cohort in and are thus stronger and likely to keep on keeping on. This is good news for us. Hope you don’t mind, but you have some of the same characteristics as my rascal of a father who remained young until he left for other adventures at 94 1/2. He enjoyed pretending he wasn’t all there so he could tease us later. He had a twinkle in his eye, too.
He had a wonderful doctor who asked him when he turned 90 what his favorite foods were. He replied, “Southern Fried Chicken, Cheesecake and Carrot Cake.” She promptly wrote him a prescription giving him permission to eat as much of them as he wanted. We keep it on the refrigerator.
So do keep on enjoying. You worked hard enough to do so, for sure. And keep spreading that wisdom. You’ve got more than we do, after all.
Your book “How to Argue & Win Every Time” helped me win a case with our local school board. I also emailed you, and you wrote back wishing me luck. That gave me so much inspiration! You have such a remarkable way with words. Thanks for your help.
And we have listened. Thanks for your continued posts, enjoyable as always.
You hit it out of the park and touched all the bases. Mom, apple pie, the kids. However, you forgot the sex. Its the Joy of Sex. Oh, yeah, I got the irony, you forgot… the senility… very clever. Why not leave an untidy mess for the survivors? Busy people, unless they are disciplined in cleaning as they go are quite untidy. I plan to leave a real hairball of a mess when I go.
This is priceless my friend. It is wisdom and word. I’ll keep it close.
Best Wishes and may you winter well.
Sounds to me like you have just the right perspective. Have that apple pie, ice cream, and chocolate syrup on top!
Pingback: Wisdom from Gerry Spence…. « Coyote Tracks
I have long been a huge fan of yours and I believe that you are too hard on
yourself. You are the wisest man I know – by that I mean that I feel that I know you through your books and lectures on t.v. You have a kind heart, mind and soul. I know that you hear this all of the time, but honestly, nobody in the U.S. could top my story! Nobody, period!!
It involves legal goliaths, laws which I had corrected, the California Supreme Court and a hispanic woman forced to defend against a $50 million dollar SLAPPsuit in pro per in complex, civil litigation. Her crime:
Filing a state bar complaint against her billionaire trial lawyer which was
her constitutional right and it was illegal for him to sue her for that according to California law. But, as you have written, judges are for sale. So, even though my husband and I won (The trial court, unanimously affirmed by the court of appeals, unanimous victory in the legislature and signed into urgent legislation by the governor,
then incorporated into a seminal Supreme Court Opinion on my husband’s case) we lost everything we had built over 20 years of marriage. Only
a man of your caliber could speak to this attorney and have him do right
by us. Everybody who is anybody was in this case, including Eisenberg.
Will you help us? We are not republicans and we believe all the evil you
have stated about the corporations is true, but the true soul test is, what
if it is one of your own who did this? My husband now has congestive heart failure. In other words, we are dying for justice. Please think about it.
We need you. I will pray over it. I believe that a few words from you
would go a long way to giving us back our lives.
Sincerely yours, Terrie Hutton
BTW, if you do not wish to pursue this, it will not change my opinion of you.
It is what it is – cops stand up for cops, doctors for doctors, and so on…
Gerry, you are a Robin Hood and have been for decades. Despite your protestations, you are a good and wise man; and, thank God you shared your wisdom with others. You have been my inspiration and I have been trying to help working people since around 1971. There is no doubt that there are thousands and hundreds of thousands who venerate you and wish to emulate you.
I am about 20 years behind you so I am beginning to taste some of the bittersweet aspects of life. If you pass over before me, then be assured that tears will fall in Texas and dedication will be renewed.
Sincerely and respectfully,
Bless you. I am 62 and may be experiencing unconditional love for the first time so I think I’ll stick around a while. Also I purchased a home last year and the kids are looking forward to a mortgage free property. Can’t disappoint!
Short term memory and human resources!
SALT! aka salary!
Women hold the keys to a bank robbers heart. Leave the details to your memory. Surely good times lost are, forever, but not re gotten. Appreciate the simplicity of being born a male individual. At this stage of being, “The bank is the last place to consider in this life or any other”, the oldest profession controls the need for a bank reserve.
My particular thoughts of rebirth: Is/maybe: This time is not my first or last time to depart. I am going to pass without leaving all the eyes crossed and the teas undrunk.
The buck stopped with Harry S. Truman and should stay in that insolent stage of factitious disorder by proxy.
The unvirtuous gods created by perpetuities are not to be valued above the knowledge acquired from experience in this most mischiveous land of female (motherly) domination.
Your sage advice is, well, considered and received in the art of frivolity.
I appreciate being.
David Getman, …
Imperfect god’s are merely wannabeees and I got all the honey stored within every taxpayers (peons) reach.
Awesome, Gerry; love hearing from you. Once, when I was seventeen, I spent a February day in, Southeast Alaska, navigating a twelve foot aluminum skiff across a large body of water–Sumner Straits–in conditions so foul the floatplanes were not even flying. A much older friend was in a fourteen footer, and finally, in the black of night, made the call to turn around and go back to a notch in the shoreline he knew held, within, Labouchere Bay, short of our destination at, El Capitan. The bullbuck and his wife took us in for hot chicken soup, sandwiches and pumpkin pie. Then the bullbuck set us up in the, empty-for-winter-shutdown, cutter’s shack. His wife had slipped out and made up two bunks, tight as the military’s, with clean white sheets and wool blankets. We were in gleeful. Every time I think back to that time, over thirty years ago, my soul is warmed by the memory of their generosity, and the comfort it provided, in the midst of a storm
And every time I see your name in my inbox it is a similar, good feeling.
“…everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence.” Morning Dove 1888-1936 Salish
Gerry, I appreciate your clean candor. I consider your son Kent to be a friend. So there’s a portion of your legacy – your son (and other children) carrying your soul and spirit forth to save little bits of our world at different moments…remember that book – “I’m ok? You’re ok”? ….inadequate … I think a better idea is: “I’m not okay, you’re not okay…but “it’s” ok”..nobody’s perfect, we all need sin to understand virtue…so we must ask ourselves: how well do we understand or “profess to understand” virtue?
I must take issue with your claim to have no wisdom. Perhaps it is the hallmark of enlightenment that the sage will not recognize it in himself. Blissfully ignorant of much media content, I have somehow managed to elude any knowledge of you until your book, How to Argue and Win Everytime, literally fell into my hands.
It has been a cathartic experience to read the words of a successful trial attorney who so perfectly expresses my own perception of the world and the relationships in it that seem inevitable but which actually keep us all from reaching our true potentials.
You may mirror my perception, but you add the wisdom that can come only from a long life of awareness and the courage to act upon your convictions. That, indeed, may be one recipe for wisdom, and it is a sure antidote for old age.
Thank you for taking part of your time to write. Forget the junk drawers, just write. I have found you to be a touch-stone of what is right and good in the world, and it is comforting to hear your words of……yes…..WISDOM.
Susan Pemberton Fields
Your thoughts will be printed out
and framed. Thou art a Sage!!!
Does the HISTORY Channel have access to your court procedures? We need you, as you are the last of the “good guys” even thought you had to be a “bad Guy”. Somehing like good cop, bad cop. You are the white buffalo of our time. Take care and God Bless.
Please don’t die’ Sitting Bull did, but we need you to keep on speaking…
Oh wise one; you write as if you have lived an everyday, average, life. Your writings and your accomplishments betray you. Even now, your mind is sharp, like the eagle’s talon. I wish I knew you, and could have learned from you, personally. You will long be remembered.
I hope we will all be remember for the right reasons.
Suspect he is telling us ALL from the grave:
“Give it your best and work very, very hard, enjoy the fruits of your labor while it lasts – and then have some FUN before it’s too late.”
(That’s what our pets have known all along – “Let’s play!”)
Wonderful words, Gerry. Thank you for sharing them. I’m going to clean out some drawers – or rob a bank – today. Not sure which just yet.
You can’t die until you help me start a small Colorado based law practice based, almost entirely, on your….er….methods. Smalltime girl with a hidden holster takes on City Hall and all the other bad guys in town. This little lady….to date…is getting railroaded. Send troops.
I have spoken.
Your fight will be yours only if you do it.
Gerry, My boyhood idol, Babe Ruth once said, “Who is richer? The man who is seen, but cannot see? Or the man who is not being seen, but can see?
I endeavor to sign up for your TLC 2011 despite being face to face with destitution. If I manage to beg, borrow or steal the money I need you to a: stay alive and b: remember to show up.
In return I will carry your books.
To be notified this morning you have begun to work and write again came with mixed emotions. I realized, in the conceit I allowed myself to wallow in for a
very short period of time, distracted me to following my dream, (vendetta through writing). I, in my slow, meticulous way of building iron-clad cases to win in court and publish many non-fiction books, pre-sold screenplays, etc., allowed the attention I received from my short and varied-subject interests, lull me into visions of grandeur, psychotic episodes of someone out there interested in what I had to say, write and document. My self-importance became all consuming and addictive. I allowed one important person I had found in my life to be upstaged, made to feel less important in
his self-esteem and pride of a life well done, you.
You, Gerry Spence, brought back memories of long ago when I had a friend
who was worldly, wise, and had something called “class” that I, in my very
short and young life had not experienced in the business-world sense. I was spell-bound when he walked in the office, immaculately dressed, smelling good, smiling at me with his blue eyes and black hair. He was a Canadian Native American Indian, who had risen above his humble heritage and was a man among men to be held in high esteem and respect. He did not have to speak to demand this respect, the other men, even the owners of the company where I worked, solicited his attention, his advice, his presence.
As this company was a one-girl office, I was polite to him, treated him as
the other associates in the building and helped him with his company’s office
secretarial typing as he did not have a secretary. He was a one-man office
for his French-Canadian company.
These office memos became fun and funny. I had not remembered his wit
and writing until your blog this morning. Thank you for another story. I do not know if he is still alive. This was long ago.
Symptoms of senile dementia have NEVER been forgetting where you left your keys, or anything else for that matter. That’s normal at all ages.
It’s when you are HOLDING your keys and ask yourself “What are these for and what do I do with them….”
i’m almost 38 years old. i have been trying to learn how to be a good trial lawyer now for 10 years. i represent criminal defendants and ordinary people in a very rural and country area in vermont and new hampshire. it’s a tough way to make a living not working for the rich and the powerful corporations who pay a lawyer a good fee. it breaks my heart when i feel the temptation of turning to the dark side to apply what i have learned and when i think about working for the insurance companies. they pay better and more often than my poor clients. i will most likely never be financial rich in my practice or famous like mr. spence. but there he is at 80 years old. his words here motivate me and bring me back to say what difference does the money make if you don’t have your health and strength? who cares about making all the money in the world when in the end we all end up in the same place? better to do good for people and feel rich in heart than rich in the bank. mr. spence reminds me with his writing here that in the end, money, fame, prestige mean nothing. thanks mr. spence.
Thanks, George. At 38 you already have it figured out right.
Keep up the fight!
Gerry, the only thing wrong with you right now is you are BORED. Go find another ‘Silkwood’ and you’ll be right as rain. Better husband? Interesting thought. I seriously doubt EmmaJean is complaining any. Straighten up say those that know you best!!I know. You are just a ‘country lawyer’. Yes. Right and Spence says the world is square and soon it is. Spence says night is day and soon it is. I highly suspect there is still that glint of mischief in your eye. Any almonds for under the Christmas Tree?
I just love the way you write and I love your insights about the experiences of getting older. There are many different ways to arrive at “old age” and I think you have arrived there with your intellect intact. Maybe that is due in part to the fact that you have continued to exercise your brain through all of your years. Maybe that is due in part to choosing the right parents. Maybe that is due in part to maintaining good health. I don’t know. Whatever the case, I aspire to use you as one of my role models for aging gracefully. Please keep writing!
If you came into my Neurology practice with a copy of the above article, I would be forced to write on your medical record:
“Pt. can still work a computer better than I can so is obviously indulging in ‘selective periods of senility”, cause and goal unknown.”
It’s still a joy to read your words. I was smitten by “The Making of a Country Lawyer”, and I have followed your life and writings ever since.
I’m so impressed with the choices and chances you have taken in life – from working on a ship out of high school to turning your back on your rich insurance company clients to defend the poor and needy against the insurance companies.
I was so impressed with your relationship with your father, that I hoped and tried to emulate it with my son, but without success. Now a generation later I see that relationship with my son and my grandson – it’s very rewarding to watch and appreciate.
If you come back as a bank robber, I want to come back as a congressional anti-lobbyist. I would insist that all of congress take a vow of poverty. How the hell do they all become millionaires while “serving the people”. What a scam!
Thanks for all you have done and written, and I look forward to your next story or article. Gerry – thanks for being Gerry – you’re an inspration!
I agree that congresspersons should take a vow of poverty. They will have one more promise to violate.
Thank you for your article on aging, if that’s an appropriate way to summarzie it. Even though I am 29 your junior, I too have put in long hours thinking of what a mess I would leave for relatives and friends to come in behind me and organize and clean up upon my demise. I am scared of becoming dependent on others and of not living a full life, what ever that means. (I began reading this morning Carl Rogers chapter on “A therapist’s view of a good life again” btw in “On Becoming a Person”).
I easily forget that through out my life I have helped a lot of people get through the most terrible crisis in their lives—maybe they might pitch in and help those with the mess I leave behind. No, they probably won’t. They have their own messes.
I know many people I have helped would not be free today if not for you and how you have helped me be a better person and helper to some of the people on this earth that need help the most.
We know there are no guarantees and perhaps that is what develops our awareness of how precious “now” is. I want to thank so many people but know I won’t have time, no matter how long I may live. I want to apologize to so many as well. I may still have time to do some of these things but not all.
I remember someone telling me a long time ago that you either have the ability to become wise or you don’t; I didn’t beleive him then but today I think this guy might have at least might have been partially right. Some people never, no matter how many mistakes, falls or lessons that one might expect them to learn, never do. People may expect you to be wise because you truly are extraordinarily perceptive and wise, and have given your wisdom to so many people. No one has all the answers do they?
Thank you not only for your vision of TLC but by putting it into action. It’s a very unique place for those of us who want to be better people and better helpers to those who need it most. The love that emanates from many hearts who leave Thunderhead is in many, as it was in me, something newly found. What greater gift can one give than the gift of learning to love others and oneself? You have given people a way or method to learn to love.
Your love will live forever in the hearts of generations to come, whether they realize it or not, after the court cases are forgotten (I don’t think some will be), and long after the final arrow has been shot over the big mountain.
Love and gratitude always,
You know Gerry, it seems I discovered you, and this blog at a time of transistion for yourself. Oh, I knew of you before finding this site, but only a peripheral concept of Gerry Spence and who he is. Even today, reading others replies, I know I don’t know you, or your work as well as many that bother to respond.
I don’t adore you.
I get the feeling a lot of people do. They hang on your every observation, await your next comment and most often shower you with agreement. Well I have always had an obstinate, alternate streak in me, and maybe that’s what led me here to start with….
Seems to me your problem isn’t with your chronological age and all the deteriation that happens to any flesh allowed to see X amount of sunrises and sunsets. Sounds to me like you’re loved and adored and you are lucky for that, but maybe and just maybe it’s not you that need to learn how to deal with your age, mortality and decline…but those around you.
You seem to be preparing for massive decline, preparing for death. Well my advice is take your own advice. Stop… Keep Up The Fight!
If you don’t like having your shirt front inspected for spots? Tell em to back off and let The Good Man eat, drink, drop and drool….why allow others to define what being 80 means to you? If it means laundry has to be done a little more often or a even a bib? Alright…but eat as you want to eat.
Also don’t worry so much about leaving your house in order. Those that loved you in life, will love you with your passing and imperfect discovered passages, or mess that needs to be discarded? Well, it’s up to you but I’m not much for pre-payed funeral plans…we are asked by existence to pay bills both literally and symbolically our entire lives…and we do it. Excuse me, if I’m not going to worry too much about whether my desk is perfect, there are no embarrasing things in my closet, or I leave behind a passage that reveals me as a clueless idiot….those that loved me? I assume they know I was a slob, pervert and clueless idiot…the rest? I don’t care.
You are quite right that there is a mythology we embrace about aging, and what it means to age. It’s flawed. There is no magical wisdom that floats down upon the limping and wrinkled that have memories of black and white television and corded phones. Screw those that expect it. Young fools can become Old Fools. Wisedom is as Wisedom does….it that wise?
Let me vent a little bitterness when I say I’ve been forced to visit too many nursing homes- for all the wrong reasons. I suspect your lucky Gerry. I’ve seen too many wheeled into rooms. Too many elderly kept alive by chemistry and science to enjoy the highlight of a day that involves an underpaid 20 something activities director calling another game of Bingo, for those barely able to either hear the numbers or shout out Bingo.
Too many without anyone to inspect shirt fronts for droppings. Too many without anyone to visit, or speak with. The best of us visiting mostly to find a balance between duty and our concious. Too many bedsides fed with tubes connected to groaning oxygen concentrators and litered with pictures of happier times. Too many wives calling out in for Husbands that have passed away, or calling for son’s and daughters that only might visit on holidays….only to rush off as quickly as possible.
So as long as anyone cares Gerry? Know you are lucky…or blessed….
And you are adored.
Define yourself as long as you can.
Love and let yourself be loved…but don’t give up the fight…and find something better to do than prepare for death. If you want to dream about your last breath, dream that it is exhalation of orgasmic inspiration…but in the meantime whisper, talk, scream….live.
Yes at 80 it’s too late to be a young man. But it’s not too late to keep striving to become that better human being your are lamenting you were unable to become. It’s quaint and unique and a little clever to admit to your fears and frailities as you age…but I don’t adore you, so I’ll tell you, you are begining to sound like an old fool.
It occured to me once when I was daydreaming, that perhaps the best life I could imagine would be some Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde fantasy. Adrenaline filled bank robberies (guiltless and bloodless of course), racing across a sprawling, innocent frontier of farmlands, with a beautiful young woman by my side…and I even imagined the death….young at a perfect age. Before decline and deteriation..exiting a movie theater as my eyes adjusted from the darkness of the theater. In a sudden and instantaneous hail of bullets to fade from life into unrealistic Iconic legend.
Sorry Gerry, you can’t have that. Precious few can really have that.
You’re adored, you are alive, and you are getting old. You’re trapped with most of us between sainthood and sinner. In the end most of us don’t get to choose how we ride into the sunset or even how others allow us to ride into the sunset. Strive to rediscover the joy in life, not the Joy of Senility.
I don’t adore you.
“I have spoken”.
You didn’t whisper. You spoke well. Hopefully also for yourself. Tack your comments on the wall and read them three times a day. They will turn to wisdom.
Jerry, you are my most respected hero. It takes great courage to tell the truth. You are truly a beacon of light and consciousness.
On aging, I’ll use the words of another respected hero, Joseph Campbell (paraphrased from his interview with Bill Moyers): There is beauty at each stage of life. We are at a stage where we can relax into it, to enjoy and appreciate the wonder of it all — with less identification with the body
which is falling away, and more as a vehicle of light, of consciousness.
Yes, hopefully JC is right.
Sounds exciting! Afraid to ask but….how many will be pulling straws to be Maid Marian?
I met you at a Denver book fair in the 90’s and the book signing of your OJ book. I am still in awe of your talents. I am a poet and people think I’m goofy and that’s the way I like it. You are the most honorable lawyer, best author and speaker I have ever heard. Enjoy your glory days your wisdom shines as usual.
Thank you. Poets are the wisest. The unwise see them as goofy.
As I approach the “crone” years, I appreciate your thoughts as I have had the exact same thoughts come to mind (i.e. cleaning out the drawers; putting everything in order, etc.) and those fleeting memories and thoughts come to mind of those who have crossed my path and a very special country lawyer comes to mind; Mr. Gerry Spence. I’ve read every one of your books at least 3 times and find your wisdom then and now comforting and of so much help. Just remember, you’re not getting old, you’re just getting better – like a very good wine. I feel, as the “elder” lady, that I am truly fortunate that I am an “elder” and have the “knowing” about life and can continue to smile, but above all appreciate the little simple things in life like watching a gull sail high over the ocean….a miracle.
I phoned a friend a few months after moving away from Jackson Hole where I had lived for 35 years. I asked, “Do people still ask about me?” she replied, “Hell no, you’re yesterdays news.” I dreaded the aging process and found that I was exaggerating the small changes that my body was experiencing.
Now in my 70th year I look forward to the peace, wisdom, and increased spirituality that I am working hard to develop. Meditation, hiking, staying close to nature, strengthening my spirituality, and never complaining about the few inconveniences of my aging body. Just received a new job offer in another part of the state NM, and look forward to the move and new professional challenges.
I am 70, took a nice 1-12 hour hike in the mountains of New Mexico yesterday, and feel good today. In my sixties I regretted the process of aging but I realized that as I aged and meditated and kept busy that my spirituality grew stronger. Now I look forward to the wisdom and peace that grows each day in my mind and body. I look forward to a clear head in my nineties and a powerful spirituality at that time.
I have a special blue bowl where I always put my glasses. I have a straw basket where I put my keys, wallet, and hearing aid. I have learned to give repeated input into my brain to facilitate memory. For example when I take my pills in the morning I touch each bottle and shake them so that my auditory neurons are stimulated to remember that action. I focus on positive things in my life and refuse to allow negative thoughts to remain long. I keep busy and am always looking for challenges. As I mentioned in another blog I am handling two pro-se lawsuits and three appeals, all by myself. I am amazed that I have been able to do it. My brain was reactivated and although my short term memory is not excellent, it is still workable.
What the brain loses in memory and quickness is balanced by wisdom and spirituality.
I saw the documentary “Hubble” nine times. It is a 45 minute IMAX film showing planets and galaxies bilions of light years away from our little planet. I find it immensely rewarding to take my mind away from day to day pesty little problems and observe the earth from the heights of the incredible universe. For me that works.
WOW…. these are powerful words you write..I look forward to many more… for you have opened the eyes of so many.
To you I send our love,
Gerry, as far as you feeling the loss of your memory. Hardy young man. I am 48, if I had 1% of the ability you have to retaine. Would consider myself. Ever so blessed. Living in Wyoming, I am proud you live here with us. Take care ok. Looking forward to you next book. Moe Morrow Rock Springs
Gerry, this blog entry is great as usual. I’m 52 and also feel harassed by time. We all have the same number of hours in the week, but sometimes it doesn’t seem that way. Keep up the good work and the good fight. You’re the best.
You speak, rather write the truth so eloquently on a topic like old age, and well…dying…
Most people prefer not to think about it, or write about it like you have. Yet it is a right of passage so to speak. An event as special as a wedding, or birth, or some religions, first communions etc.
Why can it not be discussed, shared, and planned like these other glorious events?
Its obviously one of those “firsts” like a first birthday, or 21st… (you know what I mean)
you do make me smile…
As long as we can laugh……we’re not old yet.
Dear sweet Gerry,
I sent your lovely quote about being a bank robber to, yes, the CEO of BoA! You pack a powerful punch in the simplest phrase! To me, you speak up for those of us who have no voice. Thank God you came along and what a miracle it was to meet you; I asked at your book signing for a hug before you left (where did I ever get the nerve to do that?) and you obliged. I’ll never forget that big, bear hug as long as I live. Your life has been a gift for all of us. If you ever sell a book of your poems and photographs, hold the first copy out for me! If you ever come back to Atlanta, I’ll be waiting for my next hug.
With deepest regards and affection,
Gerry. No truer words were spoken than “The Joys of Senility”. I hope for my intellectual state of mind that senility comes sooner than later. Reasons as follows. I’ll forget all the hurtful words accusations untruths thrown at me that caused years of pain and suffering. I’ll forget the loved ones that have gone before me (out of order I might add), which when forgotten will fill the empty void of lonileness. I’ll also forget all the pain and suffering I have caused others for years and wonder how I became so nice at the end. What a nice feeling that must be, right now I long for the “Joys of Senility”. Life has become more than my mind can handle, and my don’t give a damn pills don’t do there intended purpose anymore, no matter how many. Senility, tranquility are they almost the same. When there is nothing left, Senility looks very promising. I have been told I don’t remember something I have supposedly said a few minutes before, maybe senility is already creeping in and I am not aware of it’s presence. the Joy of Senility, bring it on. Gerry your words have inspired me more than any other human being on the face of this planet. For that I am eternally graetful and I must also add I have more of your books to read before senility moves in and takes complete control of whatever mind I have left. I did not accomplish what I was capable of through life, for that I will be always sad . God bless you my dearest friend. Bill
Bill, you are a good man. If, in the end, that can be said about us that is enough.
You must have got your tounge caught in your cheek, Mr. Spense, You are a “force of natue” and I can only imagine the battle you and Daniel Webster might have had..I will always see you clad in buckskins with your long flowing hair, sparks bouncing off your eyes-the truth in one hand and a hammer in the other..if you had food on your shirt-no one ever noticed-it was food for thought..LOL. 3 people altered the course of my life-MLK, Bobby Kennedy-and Gerry Spense-from you i got a sense of what justice could be-what the law could and should be..and the belief that the only fight you can’t win..is the fight you are not in….so quit ruminating about old age..and give me some advise on how we can save Wyomings and Americas Wild horses from the destruction they are facing.
You are an icon of a true fighter, a person who lights up the sleeping wisdom in others. Your beams heals unjust and give birth to personal creativity. Your words reach far across and keeps the oncoming winther here in norway in bliss.
Keep on playing Gerry !
“The reason I talk to myself is that I’m the only one whose answers I accept.”
Fuck it Gerry, let’s go rob some banks……starting with Goldman/Sachs….that is if Barry, their man in the white House, does not get in our way.
“You hold the whiskey, I’ll hold the money…”
Gerry: I haven’t seen you since the First Death Penalty TLC in 2001, but you still had the power then and I have no doubt you still do. My grandmother used to talk about “putting her house in dyin’ order.” She worked on it for 20 years. She finally died at 99. You will never die, Gerry. Your greatest gift is TLC. You will never die.
The gift of old age is the Wisdom NOT to care what others think about you. Belonging is no longer THE goal. Rejection means nothing anymore because we have finally accepted what a Gift we are to the world. Your presence is a shinning Light streaming out into all the world. We walk by that Light. Thanks to your writing skill and country bumpkin humor it will never go out young man.
I, for one, intend to be here till I am 120, just like you! In fact, I just took the Cal Bar Exam this summer at age 62. My daughter and I took it together. She just graduated from Santa Barbara’s Southern Cal Institute of Law in June. We are just waiting till Thanksiving to join your rank and file!
“When you are senile, you won’t know it.”
Dearest Gerry Spence- As I watched my father dying- this strong, honest, heroic figure who had been the son of pioneer farmers and survived the passing history of the 20th Century, and consciously experienced the wonder and beauty and love of being- now feeling the last weakening touch of life, it occurred to me that death was absurd and meaningless, and we had always known it.
I determined to figure it out, to break a taboo, in effect. I believed that we knew the answer- written deeply into our subconscious minds- but lacking the science to envision or fulfill it, we had cast it in metaphor and myth, and left its explanations to the gods. I do not believe that the self-conscious entity is forever born to die, elso why can we imagine immortality? Love itself presupposes the immortal. So does beauty. They are glimpses of our destiny. Now for the first time in history we can see the second half of the mystery revealed: The progression of computer technology and science will lead us- excepting the failure of will- to the day when capacity nears infinity, long before which the finite problem of death and resurrection will have been solved. Somewhere in the space-time continuum, determined by us, we will return. Death will not be irrevocable. We will meet again.
I’ve told you about all of this in my just-published book, “THE BRIGHTNESS: Secrets of the Third Angel, and the Bridge at Kino Springs”, by SM NONA. I took the audacious liberty of making the iconic Gerry Spence a character in the story (see pgs. 251-273), as I consider you one of the three great lawyers of the last century and a bit- Robert Ingersoll and Clarence Darrow being the other two. If I have violated propriety in representing you, and you should choose to bring suit, then I cannot win the case, unless I could hire you, which would not be logical, and so, being a poor writer without means, I would have to work out the judgment by promoting my book, while filling shopping-carts with smashed aluminum cans, being assured that the quantity would at last be a finite number.
Many thanks for all you’ve done, and will continue to do. (Your character in THE BRIGHTNESS said this, among other things: “The scarcity of a thing increases its value. When freedom is scarcest, people will die for what little is left.” Best Regards on your birthday. SM NONA
Good luck with your book.
Gerry, I knew very little about you until Ruby Ridge and then I became an admirer of you and your legal practice. What this country needs is more lawyers like you to fight for the little guy. I know because I have been battling a very large trucking company for 18 yrs in a workmen comp case. I just hope I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Keep up the good work.
I read on and on and on and the end result is you really inspire people Gerry. Every comment that I read has a way that you have inspired that person in one way or another. I certainly wish my sister had given me your book 15 years ago so I could have gotten started long ago with reading your writings. Sincerely Tom
At least some dumb doctor did not pull your ovaries out and make you mentally off kilter. ha! Menopause is really womanopause.
Respectfully, I ran across this trial of antiquity and deleted the references that were distracting for me to focus on the preliminary hearing and trial. Would you consider representing the accused?
1 Then the whole company of them arose, and brought him before _____.
2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding us to give tribute to ____, and saying that he himself is _________.”
3 And ______ asked him, “Are you the ______?” And he answered him, “You have said so.”
4 And _____ said to the _____ and the ________, “I find no crime in this man.”
5 But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all _______, from _____ even to this place.”
6 When ____ heard this, he asked whether the man was a _____.
7 And when he learned that he belonged to _______ jurisdiction, he sent him over to ______, who was himself in ______ at that time.
8 When _____ saw _____, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some _____done by him.
9 So he questioned him at some length; but he made no answer.
10 The ______ and the ____ stood by, vehemently accusing him.
11 And ____ with his _____ treated him with contempt and _____ him; then, arraying him _______, he sent him back to _____.
12 And _____ and _____ became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.
13 _____ then called together the chief ____ and the _____and the people,
14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him;
15 neither did _____, for he sent him back to us. ______ nothing deserving death has been done by him;
16 I will therefore _____ him and release him.” /17
18 But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, __________
20 ______ addressed them once more, desiring to release _______;
21 but they shouted out, “________ him!”
22 A third time he said to them, “Why, what _____ has he done? I have found in him no crime deserving death; I will therefore chastise him and release him.”
23 But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be _______. And their voices prevailed.
24 So ______ gave sentence that their demand should be granted.
To Gerry- on the note by “Neurologist” (Sept 4): Long ago as a boy, I was mystified to hear my father speak of a man standing on a road with a rope in his hand, not sure if he had found the rope, or lost his horse. I remember as a kid thinking, “Poor fellow.” Now, coming up on 70, with more experience and perspective, it’s easier to appreciate the context, carrying over through the 19th Century to our Great Depression era, and each generation of life. The poor fellow was most likely overwhelmed- but definitely in trouble. But, as Neurologist pointed out, he still grasped a connection between a rope and a horse. That’s about where I am now, unlike Mr. Gerry, who could rail on about the existential difference and similarity of the two- and have the optimism to say, You have the rope: let’s find the horse.., and the thief who took it! Enjoy the day, Mr. Gerry. It seems to me you’ve earned it. SM NONA
Like the metaphor a lot. I will probably use it sometime without accreditation. Thanks to your dad.
You do have wisdom. yours and your forefathers. I once gave you crap a long time ago, because after seeing you on Geraldo( I was very impressed by you and still am) I bought your book and enjoyed it,( Give me Liberty) I think and told you that you were being a little complicated with your vocabulary. Anyway, sorry abou that. I am readinding The making of a country lawyer right now and wished I had read more of your writings earlier. Not much time for reading but I am trying.
I hope you are doing great.
wow that is intense. I am in my 40’zzz and only now really feel age. The physicalness of it (is that a word?). I have been wondering what is this life for? As we do.
After reading your piece…I know…what I have always known, but needed you to write is so brutally and honesty. Life is short. Live it. Be kind. Have fun. Eat apple pie a la mode. 🙂 And what is our legacy. You have an incredible legacy and probably inspired thousands of to become great lawyers. People you will never meet or know.
Age terrifies me. I am closer to it. It is eating at me. tick tock tick tock.
I like the science of life….it aids me in acceptance…but it’s the consciousness….what is that. It is so beautiful that it is a mystery that no one can unravel. I love that. And sometimes…it hurts me.
I think my note to you isn’t making much sense. But basically I want to say…i find a lot of comfort in your writing, your books, your presence of knowing you are still here among us.
There is ‘something’ important there….your life….your presence.
And when someone like you, leaves us….it will leave a hole…a mark…
I know that the apple pie is ….grown from a strong tree, nurtured…resilient..and providing relief of hunger, vitamins, and sometimes silly joy. An apple has an incredible life.
Your writing continues to push me to be strong, to be deliberate in my life.
Thank you for continue to write…and I am sending you some love all the way from Paris France.