This Tuesday, I turn 80. What have I learned? I’m imperfect. And the older I get, the less I understand. Yet, I still claim to know a few things worth sharing.

But first, don’t ask me to predict who’ll win the 2024 presidential election. Or whether Joe Biden will withdraw from the race. Or if he does, who’ll be the Democratic nominee. Long ago, I stowed my rose-colored glasses in my safe-deposit box. My crystal ball has been in the shop for years.

Still, I’ll say this about Biden and Donald Trump: Age takes its toll. 

Now for wisdom: Someone offers you a chocolate-chip cookie or brownie? Take it (unless you’re diabetic). Control calories and sugar by chomping on half, then scarfing the rest when you get home.

Feeling down? Go to your happy place. For example, read a great novel like Taking Stock (by me) or stream Hulu’s The Bear. Schadenfreude! Those folks know gloom! (And joy.)

See an older person standing in a room spinning in slow circles? Step back. The fogey doing the pirouette (might be me) is trying to remember why he or she came into the room. Chances are, the discovery will occur in thirty seconds. If not, the person you observe may shrug and bite into a piece of chocolate. You take your comforts where you can.

Re twirling in a room—I never do this outside to avoid scaring people—don’t worry when you forget a word, a name, a face. It will come back to you. Probably. Maybe. What the hell! But here are six magic words to employ when you’ve forgotten someone’s name: “Excuse me, I’ve forgotten your name.” Always works.

Time to worry? When you’ve forgotten your own name. I seldom do.

More wisdom: Take a stroll with your phone in your pocket. Sure, you could look at photos of the route you’re taking. Routine for tweens, teens and post-adolescent adults often up to 50. But imagine seeing an actual blue sky, the green of trees and shrubs, flowers’ brilliant colors. Also, me being a pragmatic kind of guy, watch where you’re walking so you don’t step in dogshit.

Point of emphasis: Use words like dogshit. I don’t mean anywhere, anytime with anyone. Dogshit is my dog whistle for a phrase that made the rounds in, if I remember—and I don’t necessarily—the 60s: Tell it like it is. Newsflash: Aaron Neville recorded “Tell It Like It Is” in 1966. I checked it out online and listened on YouTube. Impressed? (Me neither.)

I can also impart some of the standard platitudes. Like, don’t waste time and energy pursuing status and wealth. As the 1,800-year-old Mishna (Pirke Avot) advises: “Who is rich? He who is satisfied with his lot.” 

But don’t apologize for working hard to make a good living. As Tevye the Milkman explains in Fiddler on the Roof, “It’s no shame to be poor, but it’s no great honor either.” A happy medium beats either extreme.

So, revel in the small stuff. Don’t stress over big matters you can’t control. At the same time, raise your voice to make the world a better place. Paraphrasing Pirke Avot: We’re not required to finish the job, but we can’t avoid trying.

Now, nap time.

The post will take off the next two weeks and pop up (pop off?) on Friday, July 26.

Please pass on this post. 

Order my new novel, TAKING STOCK (Kirkus Reviews starred selection) in softcover or e-book from Amazonbarnesandnoble.com or iuniverse.com. Or from your favorite bookstore.


  1. Carolyn Power Perlstein on July 5, 2024 at 11:12 am

    Happy birthday to the man–and husband–of my dreams. I love you to the moon and back. Hands off girls, he’s all mine.

    • David Perlstein on July 5, 2024 at 11:20 am

      You heard Carolyn, girls. Didn’t you?

  2. Michelle de Grasse on July 5, 2024 at 12:18 pm

    Happy Tuesday Birthday, David! I love this post! Thank YOU for telling it like it is. 😉

    • David Perlstein on July 5, 2024 at 2:16 pm

      A pleasure, Michelle. And appreciated.

  3. David Sperber on July 5, 2024 at 4:00 pm

    That was amazing. At least i think it was. Maybe i should read it again, if i can figure out where i first read it.

    • David Perlstein on July 5, 2024 at 4:17 pm

      Twirl around the living room, David. And thanks.

  4. Jean Wright on July 5, 2024 at 4:28 pm

    Today – Shabbat Shalom. Tuesday – Happy Birthday. And many more of both.

    • David Perlstein on July 5, 2024 at 4:35 pm

      Thanks so much, Jean. Shabbat shalom!

  5. David Newman on July 5, 2024 at 4:34 pm

    Happy birthday, David. And thanks for sharing your accumulated wisdom.

    • David Perlstein on July 5, 2024 at 4:44 pm

      I put my accumulated wisdom together drop by drop, David. When it filled a thimble, I knew it was good to go.

  6. Bruce Abramson on July 6, 2024 at 2:37 pm

    Lovely piece, David. Happy Birthday!

    • David Perlstein on July 6, 2024 at 2:42 pm

      Thank you, Bruce. Thinking of what I’ll write at 90.

  7. Sandy Lipkowitz on July 7, 2024 at 5:41 pm

    Happy Birthday David! Any many more.

    • David Perlstein on July 7, 2024 at 7:28 pm

      Thank you, Sandy.

  8. Cousin Maxine on July 9, 2024 at 4:17 am

    Happy Birthday, David! Sending you big wishes for a wonderful year!!

    • David Perlstein on July 9, 2024 at 10:10 am

      Thanks, Max. Be well and love to all!

  9. Aaron Perlstein on July 9, 2024 at 11:07 pm

    More great insights! Loved it – happy birthday!

    • David Perlstein on July 10, 2024 at 10:34 am

      Thanks, Aaron (aka my son).

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