Sunday, December 4, 2016

Shun the phrase "This Stage of Life"

For reasons I don't fully understand, my Columbia University journalism school class has remained close for decades now. Maybe it's because we graduated in an era of "sensitive training," when on our own we organized a three-day weekend to learn to listen to each other. (After all, isn't listening what journalists are supposed to be good at?)
Maybe it's because we've had a list serve run by the same dedicated class member all these years.
Or because, every five years at reunion time, the same lovely couple hosts all of us at their New York apartment and we reconnect.
When one of us lost his health and then his job, the class stepped in to network and find him a new position.  When one of us, author Larry Leamer, announced that he had a play opening in New York based on the life of Rose Kennedy, some 40 of us flocked into the city to go to the opening of Rose.
So, of course, now that I have a book just published, I thought I'd share my good news with my J-School class.
Along with dozens of cheers and congrats --and book purchases (thank you!) -- came this note from a classmate,   Inderjit Badhwar. Indy, as we called him back in the day, has had an illustrious career as editor of the India Times and other international publications. Currently he's editor in chief of India Legal.
I had made the mistake of saying in my class email that it was fun to have a new career "at this stage of life."

Indy was indignant:

"Stage of Life" Dotty? duh! what a defeatist sentiment after you prove that life's the biggest stage on which nothing alive can be 'staged'. It does not age. There is no chronological progression. I've observed this as an editor and a novelist. I saw this most lucidly in the last two months when I met and dined and stayed with Michael March in Prague where he conducts the International Writers Festival featuring Nobel Laureates (this time [John Maxwell] Coetzee."

Indy then went on to remind me of others in our class, all climbing new heights at this so-called "stage," including  Jim and Jill Gabbe, who did a "magnum opus documentary on India/China, "To the Mountaintops." 
To that list, here are a few (not all) other classmates still very much engaged in a stage that doesn't age:  David Gumpert may well be the nation's expert on raw milk, having written three books on the issue of "food rights," and the government's efforts to regulate choice. Connie Bruck continues her award-winning writing in the New Yorker magazine and elsewhere.  And there are so many other who continue to leave their mark on the world...Michele MontasDon Ringe.
Among many others, all still very much on the stage. Thanks, Indy for ribbing me.

1 comment:

davidgumpert said...

Insightful post, Dotty. One of the down sides of being a writer, I've always felt, is that you generally don't make a lot of money, especially compared to some other professions. One of the really nice things about being a writer, that you only discover later in life, is that you can keep writing, long after you might have been put out to pasture in other professions.