Ever since my very first exposure to it in 1979 as part of a Smithsonian Institution art-history seminar, one of my favorite art venues in Washington, DC, has been the venerable Phillips Collection, a few blocks east and perhaps a block south of the DuPont Circle DC Metro stop.
The Phillips Collection
There are many reasons for my respect and enthusiasm for “the Phillips,” but certainly one of the most salient reasons for my “evangelical” work on behalf of the Collection is that the Phillips houses Pierre Auguste Renoir’s great Luncheon of the Boating Party (hereafter Luncheon). (I refuse to call it, as some critics do, Boatman’s Lunch. Computers are expensive and I would rather not throw up on mine.) Aside from the sheer beauty of the painting itself, I enjoy watching others’
As someone who is moving into the outer fringes of what we may reasonably call “old age” – I will be 70 on 5 April 2019 – I have already learned some valuable lessons, all of which will apply to some and some of which will apply to all. For whatever it may be worth, the following is what I have learned so far. Pick and choose the lessons that are relevant to you.
o Old age need not advance gradually
With me, I began to move into the exurbs of old age in a single week, perhaps even a briefer time than that.
In late August of 2012, I was returning from a 3-week trip to Wichita, KS, to see relatives, what few I have left in my family of origin. I was jammed into the back seat, just forward of the tailcone, of a small Embraer jet on a flight to Denver to make connections
This “Skeptic’s” column tackles a subject that is both delicate and volatile: suicide. People who have known me for a fairly long time are well acquainted with a time in my life – during the time in Boston at Harvard and later at Seattle University during the equally ill-advised quest for the MDiv -- when I was undergoing episodes of very severe, quite arguably pre-suicidal, clinical depression. So – for the benefit of those people, for “my mariners, souls that have toiled and wrought and thought with me” – I want to emphasize that the following column does not describe me as I am now. Quite the contrary. I am not in crisis. I am not depressed. I am not afflicted with suicidal ideation – a term I came to know all too intimately during the “winter of [my] discontent”. So those of you