REVIEW OF PAUL THEROUX'S NEW BOOK
I highly recommend Paul Theroux’s new book on his Mexico travels entitled “On The Plain of Snakes.” Beyond his rich description of Mexico with all its problems and blessings, the book brings forth important thoughts for anyone in the autumn or winter of their careers.
Theroux now in his late seventies waxes and wains about the importance of putting your stamp on this phase in life. He talks about deciding on the Mexico road trip. How it might be his last adventure. His car was old and he (because of age) had to be tested every two years for eye sight to retain his license. Theroux did not know how long his car would last or he would be able to drive.
One passage especially calls out from the book. Theroux writes, “In the casual opinion of most Americans, I am an old man, and therefor of little account, past my best, fading in a pathetic diminuendo while flashing his AARP card; like the old in America generally, either invisible or someone to ignore rather than respect, who will be be gone soon, and forgotten. Naturally, I am insulted by this, but out of pride I don’t let my indignation show. My work is my reply, my travel is my defiance.”
It reminded me how important it is to carry a portfolio into retirement. The “My Work” being something you’re passionate about and the “Travel” not being afraid to reach out to new experiences. Ones different that you have known.
That passion can be for anything from an artistic pursuit to a slice of business you take with you. For me it was art. For good friends of mine it has meant a myriads of other things. Tom who went back to the row houses he grew up in in Kansas City intent on redeveloping as many as he could. Paul who decided to become a ski lift operator. Thelma who decided to write. Eric who decided to start a farm to table operation. The common denominator was they put a new twist on what they had done or embarked on an entirely different endeavor. A new portfolio. Foundational for taking greater risks.
We all can’t travel like Theroux does, but we can wander with a new openness to experiences. Ones that range from history to meeting new people. Profiting from the stories they have to tell.