Revisiting an old book I haven’t read in 50 years, John Steinbeck’s “Travels With Charley” and discovering insights I missed as a young man that resonate with me today. Steinbeck was just 58 when he embarked on one last cross-country road trip, but he already had one foot in the grave.
As it turned out, he had years yet to live. But I believe the progress of congenital heart disease left him more worried about a long decline as an invalid.
“It had happened to so many of my friends. The lecture ends, ‘Slow down. You’re not as young as you once were.’ And I had seen so many begin to pack their lives in cotton wool, smother their impulses, hood their passions, and gradually retire from their manhood into a kind of spiritual and physical semi-invalidism. In this they were encouraged by wives and relatives, and it’s such a sweet trap.
“Who doesn’t like to be a center for concern? A kind of second childhood falls on so many men. … I see too many men delay their exits with a sickly, slow reluctance to leave the stage. It’s bad theater as well as bad living.”