*Five Lives—thoughts on the eve of 2012.

I lived four lives before this one. 

The first includes childhood, adolescence, schools in Southern New Jersey and first employment.

The second, a year in St. Thomas followed by a decade in Puerto Rico that began as a beachcomber, morphed into a business in boating and learning about true companionship. 

The third, still tropical  decade in the in southeast corner of Florida, saw some growth as a business person, and a stumble in a great marriage that never found its footing again. 

The Fourth was the California Decade that lasted 20 years.   It was a very California period:  a discovery and growth of my personal spirituality, a number of superb relationships—each a test, a lesson, or both.

I always had an instinct there was a Fifth Life but never imagined what it could be.  Each of my prior lives seemed to take their character from geographic change and I wondered if I had another move lurking within.  I often cupped my ear toward other places, listening for siren calls.  Did I just imagine music coming from Portland, OR, Sarasota, FL, or the north coast of New Zealand?  And, ever so strangely, I wonder if I hear a call from the place where it all began—Bridgeton/Brigadoon, New Jersey.

Or is the Fifth Life on the road?  That idea does seem like a logical progression.  Or is the year or two on the road a long, labyrinthine trail leading somewhere that will appear as Shangri-La out of the mist one morning?

I can hardly wait to find out.

Happy New Year to all the passengers of the Jolly Swag.  To the friends of long-standing who revealed more of themselves and—by so doing—became more precious.  And to the new friends, who are adding new flavors and new voices to the conversation.

12 Responses to *Five Lives—thoughts on the eve of 2012.

  1. Chris Calkins says:


    May this New Year be a happy one.
    Perhaps satisfying is a better word.
    Thanks for sharing your observations
    and adventures this past your.

    Warm Regards,


  2. Dave L says:

    Thanks for lending this part of your next and good luck with the rest. I have enjoyed and benefited from coming along, catching your insight and reflections – keeping some. We do that you know, we writers – take what we see, mull it around, put our stamp on it and send it on as our own. Some call that research.

    So, what you do, you do for us all, those of us watching. As one, I thank you. Stay good, stay healthy, play hard.

    Dave LaRoche, a spectator.

  3. Colleen Rae says:

    Al – thanks for the wonderful ride on the Jolly Swag. Perhaps you’ll hear the Siren’s Call even yet for another part of the world. But your ‘Year on the Road’ is a superb journey and ‘fourth life.’ Can’t wait to read the book.
    Happy New Year and thanks for sharing your friends…

  4. Colleen Rae says:

    I meant your year on the road was your ‘fifth life.’

  5. Pat Bean says:

    Now you got me thinking about my own lives. Gotta ponder on this one. I may steal the idea for a blog. How long have you been on the road now? I’m going into my eighth year and still loving it.

  6. michael says:

    Life is now. Whatever the number, let’s none of us put it off.

    Reading your log gives me the itch to get in the Blue Goose and roll, reflect, and rejoice in how good each moment can be. You have the eyes and words to spotlight details of relationships and geography and convey them to the rest of us well blended with your soul.

    Thank you for the very personal sharing.

    May this New Year be filled with new and rich blessings for you Al.

    Hope to see you in Tampa in Feb.


  7. karen wittgraf says:

    Happy 2012, Al. I, like the rest of the readers, so appreciate your blog and look forward to each new adventure. I have given much thought to the “stages” of life and like the numerical concept.
    “Tho I am in the 5th stage, I still feel like I’m in the 2nd- the reality of the stages are sometimes hard to realize, but become more and more obvious. One question- are there stages of 6,7,8?

    • Colleen Rae says:

      Definitely, Karen. I’m on my 6th life here in Michigan. I’ve written a couple of novels based on my ‘past’ lives. This can work if you’re dedicated to doing it and of course, I mix my lives with a lot of fiction. That’s why they’re novels and not memoirs.

  8. David Bauer says:

    Happy New Year, Al

    As I read your comments it seemed to me that what you wrote transcended your personal life experience to reflect elements that are universal . For example, in his Theory of Personality and Psychosocial Development, Erik Erickson postulated eight psychosocial crises that people face as they age. In Erickson’s System, the psychosocial crisis associated with Stage Eight (Later Adulthood, the last stage) is defined by the struggle to establish a Sense of Integrity over a Sense of Despair. Following Erickson, your writings clearly reflect a Sense of Integrity (hope, faith, optimism) and the thinking of a psychologically mature personality.

    Interestingly, in a book titled The Life Cycle Completed: Extended version with new chapters on the ninth stage by Joan M. Erikson Erikson’s wife revised Erikson’s last book to better reflect her husband’s thinking shortly before he died. The book was published posthumously, and in the book the Erikson’s envisioned a ninth stage (old age, 80s and 90s) in which the person turns attention increasingly inward and away from the material world without being self-centered. In this final work, Joan Erikson drew heavily on Tornstam’s theory in which the argument is made that living into old age (80s and 90s)and facing its challenges brings about a shift in meta-perspective from a materialistic and rational view to a more cosmic and transcendent one. This is normally accompanied by an increase in life satisfaction in very old age. Tornstam proposed that wisdom is identified with gero-transcendence, which is characterizes by looking beyond oneself and forward into the future. Tornstam believed that the individual on the path to gero-transcendence looks forward and outward beyond the self. This can involve a decline in self-centeredness and an increase in the amount of time spent in quiet reflection. There is a move beyond all fear of death rather than mere acceptance of its inevitability, and a redefinition of time, space, and objects may take place. Furthermore, withdrawal is freely chosen and can be positive, in contrast to negative withdrawal .

    Like you seem to be doing, Al, at age 70, I am hoping to be able to live my remaining years on the path to gero-transcendence. Perhaps this is part of the mystery with which you appear to be struggling when you say, “Or is the Fifth Life on the road? That idea does seem like a logical progression. Or is the year or two on the road a long, labyrinthine trail leading somewhere that will appear as Shangri-La out of the mist one morning?”

    Happy New Year 2012 to All on Al’s Blog

  9. MaryAnne says:

    May I repeat HAPPY NEW YEAR of 2012 to all of us following Al’s journeys and learning/sharing as we do. Thanks again Al and a healthy and prosperous New Year to U.
    I am one who believes Tornstam’s Theory, as Iearned from David Hawkins in his book: Transcending the Levels of Consciousness. Like David, as I enjoy my 70th year on the planet and in a body ,I am looking forward to the growth and transcendence ahead of me which began a few years ago and amazes me daily. Following your photos and delightfully worded observations of various parts of this country has added depth to my growth and increased my feeling of being a part of the “whole”. Long ago I read another theory of our time here being broken up into seven year segments, with changes in our lives ie jobs, locations, family, growth etc.every seven years. That has proven very true in my own case and as I enter my 10th segment I am personally excited about what is coming up in this one. Thanx for sharing your lives with us Al. My plan is to complete as close to 14 segments as I can (age-98) with my consciousness intact and oriented. Best of happiness and health to all as we “journey on”.

  10. Gene says:

    Enjoy the journey. We are all on one so enjoy every moment, Happy New Year.

  11. Ed Boland says:

    Hi Al: Nice blog and happy New Year! I don’t know what stage of life I am at right now. Took some Psych/Social college required for degree. I ponder some of those thoughts; but try not to dwell on them. Guess I go by decades; which would put me in the 6th. It is one helluva ride; with many bumps and bruises along the way; also intertwined with a lot of great and happy expierences. Had to jump in and say hello after I seen your post on Linkedin. Ed

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