Post Pod Blues

For the first week in 13 years I didn't climb Podcast Mountain yesterday

I miss my podcast.

Until yesterday, I uploaded The Kindle Chronicles every week for 13 years. I have been talking a brave game about taking time off from the show, concluding a very long Season 1 in preparation for the start of Season 2 in 41 days. August will be a monkish season of discernment, a time to figure out what’s ahead, I’ve been telling myself and anyone listening.

But during an illuminating Zoom chat with my friend Gary Lerude yesterday, I found myself saying, “On September 10th I might say, ‘Welcome to the first episode of Season 2. It will also be the last.”

Ha ha—whistling past the graveyard where Season 1 rests in peace. No fear here. No grief or even sadness. Just a guy about to turn 71 making a transition in his life with a chipper attitude, the latest narrative he’s created to organize his mind. Right.

We had a festive gathering here at the cottage yesterday evening. I grilled lemon chicken on the outdoor grill. Darlene cooked fresh corn and rice. Our friend Duce entertained my grandsons Jake and Ryan by reciting how complicated her ice cream order always is at Fielder’s Choice—three layers of different flavors, alternating between soft and hard, packed in the pint container just so.

After eating, we went out on the porch to cheer on dozens of runners in the Ocean Park 5K Road Race. It was fun, but I found myself a couple of times sneaking up here to the bedroom to sit in my chair by the window, doing a five-minute sitting meditation and reading The Economist. What’s wrong with this picture? Where did Grampa go?

Well, kids, Grampa was feeling kinda sad about letting go of the podcast. When you’re sad it’s sometimes good to find a place you can let it roll over you, like fog on a Maine morning. You can’t see for beans, and if you try you’ll give yourself a headache. Best to sit with it, maybe do some writing.

Before I go on, I want to promise my listeners and myself that I have not decided to end the podcast.

My vow is to wait until at least my birthday on August 30th to make a binding decision. Yes, I might by then be ready to move on without the show. Or I might be working my Amazon network to land a Season 2 Boffo Debut interview with Jeff Bezos, to find out how he’s managing the transition from CEO to space pioneer and whatever else he’s cooked up for life after 57. And for episode two we’ll be talking with Richard Rohr about his latest audiobook, A Spring Within Us, released earlier this year…

The challenge I’ve set for myself is to not know what I’m doing for a month or so. It ain’t easy being tween.

Just now, I headed out to the beach in time to photograph sunrise over Prout’s Neck at precisely 5:30 a.m. It’s the same sunrise my Dad sees from his bedroom west of Boston, overlooking a river and forest. He is in his tenth decade. I’m in my eighth. We visit regularly by Echo Show Drop-In and talk about everything except the former President.

Among the many things I admire about my father is the grace with which he has accepted loss and diminution. In six days our family will mark two years since Mom died. Dad and his housekeeper Marie drive to Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Sudbury every Friday to be with her. Dad is an optimist who knows how to grieve and move on. It’s a powerful combination at any stage of life.

When I think about how often Dad enjoys looking at photos of my mother, a stunning beauty who aged with style and dignity, I can imagine spending time in August listening to some of the 677 episodes of The Kindle Chronicles that are out there on the nets. It seems like an odd thing to do, but it might help me to find clues about Season 2. Which interviews touched me the most? Which ones changed my direction? What parts of past shows now bore me? Hint: it turns out I didn’t need to worry about always speaking up for Amazon, defending it from critics. Jeff, Jay Carney, and the powerhouse PR team have done just fine in that department.

Another thing my father has done in the past two years is make a lot of new friends. In the community he lives in, his dance card is always full. He carries a leather-bound pocket calendar with him at all times, so he can jot down in pencil a notation only he can decipher that reminds him of a dinner date or coffee with someone in his apartment.

I’m an odd mix of introvert and extrovert, and the making friends thing has always been a puzzle for me. I need to take risks, make some phone calls, reach out to some new people and loop back to friends from other decades.

Ambition looms over my time between pod seasons. How much of it is appropriate at my age? How much is ridiculous?

Sometimes it seems as if I’ve spent my whole life trying to get into Harvard—arranging my high school extracurricular activities to stand out in the crowd, staying up late and getting up early to study for tests and get the school paper out. Huff, puff, keep going.

But wait. I did get into Harvard! That’s when it got confusing, because I never again had as clear a life goal as that one. Harvard was quickly replaced by existential dread that I would never measure up, never be the man my father was, never matter at all.

Ambition is something I can’t seem to control, like lust. Each comes from somewhere I don’t understand, and when I deny them or pretend I am in charge, they get pissed and find weird ways to mess me up.

Maybe ambition in my 70s is flow I can guide and perhaps channel, the way I have guided the flow of runoff water at low tide when I make lakes and rivers and castles here on the beach. I’ve loved that form of play ever since I was a boy, and now I love doing it with my grandsons.

I still miss my podcast, but I feel better already for having shared these thoughts with you.

Stay tuned.