"My daughter is in college. Annie is a beautiful dancer and choreographer; her real talent, I think, is her ability to create a feeling from movement. She's a talented girl and really bright.
"My son has some learning issues, and we're in a [specialized] environment educationally. So that's a whole new learning curve for all of us. And it's been fascinating. I work hard with his school, helping and learning and fighting on behalf of these kids.
"When my kids leave I would like to go back to school. To me, a great boomer fantasy would be creating courses of study, like book clubs, where people come together in small groups, for lectures, reading, movies, music, art, and then travel to that place. We would do Italy, we would do the Netherlands, we would do Russia. We would study Nazi Germany, then watch Schindler's List and The Diary of Anne Frank, then see my girlfriend Deborah Oppenheimer's documentary, Into the Arms of Strangers, and hear about stories of the Kindertransport, then read four or five historical fiction books and then travel there.
"As we get older, we say goodbye to a lot of people. We say goodbye to our friends, to our family, and discover our capacity to love and communicate and have intimacy — real intimacy, not the superficial intimacy we had in our youth. Strip away the bulls---; be done with that. Ask yourself these two questions: Did I learn to live wisely? Did I love well?
"Service is another way to get out of the calcification of your life. I am the spokesperson for two children's charities — the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation and Starlight Starbright, which does wish-granting for ill children. I host a lot of charity events. There's a lot of personal satisfaction in being of service to other people. It's the complete opposite of being for sale.
"If I get the chance, I would like to evolve as a public voice, to find a way to talk about making better choices. It is very difficult to talk about people's personal choices, and the addiction to having what we want when we want it. For instance, diabetes is an Armageddon. Where did this come from? It came from us. We need to live the example more. Giving up something that makes us feel good in order to keep us alive as a species. We need a surgeon general who challenges the way people eat. I don't know why doctors don't say, 'Oh, you smoke? I'm not going to treat you. It's clear that you're not interested in being alive.'
"I'm going to give myself a breakfast birthday party. I'll serve my favorite meal of the day: cereal and waffles and bacon and pancakes and scrambled-egg-white omelets and protein shakes and cappuccinos. My friends will come with their kids. The little children can get their hands dipped in wax, and they can watch the wonderfully talented candy carver swirl the liquid candy into dragons, and they can leave with a dragon lollipop.
"To celebrate, I'm making a book of 50 of my photographs and giving it to each of my friends. It's not for public consumption. People have been very complimentary over the years, and many have said, 'Oh, you should have a show.' I thought about it, and I thought, no. I don't need more attention. I don't ever want to make taking pictures into another way of saying 'Here I am.' Because I'm as here as I want to be."
Join or Renew and Choose Your Gift
- Offer ends Dec. 17
- Discounts on travel and everyday savings
- Subscription to AARP The Magazine
- Free membership for your spouse or partner