We will never forget you, Toni Morrison

Toni-Morisson-Katy-Grannan-New-York-Times-Magazine-01MD: How exciting, Nadya! Our book is out, it’s beautiful, and I’ve carried my one copy everywhere to show people. Guess what? I’ve lost the lone copy of the book about the time of life when we grow forgetful. What does this mean?

NG: So what are you saying? This is your book… not your mind! I misplace things all the time, and I don’t chalk it up to an aging mind. It’s simply forgetfulness. A trait that even our children display when they’re young. 

Why is it that as we grow older, we begin to link everything to aging? 

MD: Easy for you to say, sweetie. You’re a decade younger, never forget it! I didn’t worry about this when I was your age. You’re right, however, that we feel a new fear when this happens at a certain age. We do lose things throughout life, we do fall now and then, yet when it happens now to me, it carries the chill of future mishaps. 

NG: First of all, I won’t ever forget that I’m a decade younger than you. You don’t let me forget it! And, when you forget, I’ll tell you it’s time to worry.

My personal trainer includes balance exercises regularly, because I’m of that age – and falling is both a risk and a greater possibility as we grow in years.

Still, I am determined to face these kinds of changes with curiosity and amazement at the process of aging. I don’t want to fall prey to fear.

MD: Yeah, it’s a bad neighborhood that I try to stay out of too. What consoled me about losing the book and “losing it” is that creativity still abounds. I took the image of the book and printed several pages of it and bring it to events. And if I lose the papers…well, I know how to make more. 

NG: Gene Cohen, in his book The Mature Mind, teaches that the mind becomes more creative and elastic as we grow older. I like to think of this in Reb Zalman’s computer terms. The RAM is full! We have used all the space on our hard drive and it’s slowing down. We haven’t lost anything, it just takes longer to retrieve. As we’re waiting for the information, we come up with new solutions or responses.

MD: Whew. I feel so much better, rabbi.