Well, maybe not that often, but still, more than I used to. As Dr. Johnson noted, an unappealable deadline concentrates the mind wonderfully.
According to the I.R.S.'s life expectancy tables (for calculating minimum yearly distributions from your IRAs), mine could be 30 years from now. (I'm 68.) A man could do a lot of damage in 30 years. Or a lot of good. But that assumes maintaining the physical vigor and mental acuity to do one or the other. And this is one reason I've so eagerly read Elkhonon Goldberg, The wisdom paradox: how your mind can grow stronger as your brain grows older. New York: Gotham Books, 2005. Twice! Because I wanted to be sure I got it all, including the summaries of experimental results and the technical language. Goldberg was a student of the great Soviet neuropsychologist Aleksandr Luria (1902-1977), who practically founded the discipline (combining knowledge of psychology with examinations of brain anatomy and processes), and is now doing some very creative work of his own at New York University. This book, and maybe some reflections on my earlier readings of Luria and Vygotsky, deserve another blog essay. But in short -- very short -- there is good reason to think that, with good mental exercise, we can keep our brains active and alert for a very long time.
My friend and mentor Walter James Miller is now 91, and still continuing his prolific writing and lecturing career.* I think I know how he does it -- he keeps reading new and challenging things, writing analyses, and exchanging ideas with students and other authors. Terrific brain exercises.
* Walter died on 20 June 2010, about a year after I'd written this. Check out his Wikipedia page in the link above.
But I'm going to plan more conservatively, to try to get everything important done much sooner. In the next ten years. Some writing projects, both fiction and sociological, two languages I want to learn better and some others I'll have to learn from scratch, and in the shorter run, to learn to play the Albéniz' "Asturias" (transcribed for guitar).
And of course to enjoy as much sex as possible before wingèd Thanatos comes to whisk me off. That's also good for maintaining vigor. And it's such fun.
*Illus.: Winged youth with a sword, probably Thanatos, personification of death. Detail of a sculptured marble column drum from the Temple of Artemis at Ephesos, ca. 325-300 BC. Found at the south-west corner of the temple. British Museum. Source: Wikipedia