Erik Erikson in his book Vital Involvement in Old Age, written with Joan Erikson and Helen Q. Kivnick, stated:
"Old age is a time for remembering and weaving together many disparate elements and for integrating these incongruities into a comprehensive whole."
Willard Spiegelman is the Hughes Professor of English at Southern Methodist University of Dallas. From 1984 until 2016, he served as editor-in-chief of Southwest Review. And for more than a quarter century, he has been a regular contributor to the Leisure & Arts pages of the Wall Street Journal.
In this creative and wise collection of essays, Spiegelman is right in sync with Erikson's definition of old age. Claiming to have reached his biblical allotment of three score years and ten, the author looks backward and then ahead with frequent nods to all the fun, the pleasures and adventures of his international travels, his urban experiences, the art of conversation, his sensitivity to the subtleties of climate and landscape, his need for varied cuisine, his appreciation of music as the perfect conveyor of nostalgia, his response to reunions, and his love of books, art, and quiet.
We were impressed with Spiegelman's yearning for silence which he calls "as precious and rare as slowness or solitude, clean air, and a star-filled night sky." We, like him, have a special place in our hearts for the Quiet Cars on Amtrak trains. Spiegelman's quest for public silence takes him to many places and spaces but it is all for naught. Perhaps his solution is the best one of all — attend a Quaker meeting for silence-in-company.