I'm Not Done Yet!: Keeping at It, Remaining Relevant, and Having the Time of My Lifeby Edward I. Koch, Daniel Paisner (With)
I'm Not Done Yet! is a lively primer on remaining relevant into the so-called retirement years. Ed Koch, the colorful three-term mayor of New York City and now a noted television and radio personality, columnist, and commentator, offers anecdotal evidence to suggest that the healthiest outlook on advancing age is to keep active at the work you love.
Koch reflects on life after politics and life after turning seventy. The book takes readers through the author's various career turns since losing the Democratic mayoral primary to David Dinkins in 1989, with occasional looks back at related experiences and childhood memories. Included are discussions of the up- and downturns of what Koch refers to as the third act of his varied career, and a frank account of his recent medical history.
Published to coincide with Koch's seventy-fifth birthday, I'm Not Done Yet! ends with the author's vision of his own obituary, reflecting on the life he has lived and the choices he has made. Here, for the first time, he speaks openly about what it has meant to live a life alone-without a partner, without children-and what it might mean in the years ahead.
By turns funny, candid, insightful, and unflinchingly honest, I'm Not Done Yet! is a fearless account of an extraordinary man's understanding of what it means to reach one's autumn years.
Read an Excerpt
As I write this, I've been out of office now for close to ten years, and on my next birthday I'll be seventy-five years old. Seventy-five! And yet I can't recall a time in my life when I've felt stronger, looked better, worked harder, or enjoyed myself any more than I am right now. I've always thought it was a bit ridiculous (and not to be believed) when people tell you they're having the time of their life, but I've got to admit these past few years have been very special--and some of my best years to date.
I realize, of course, that nothing I ever do will approach the elation I experienced for twelve years as mayor of the greatest, most vibrant, and (potentially) most volatile city on the planet. And I realize, too, that I will never again sleep through the night without having to get up to urinate four times in the hours just before dawn--at least not on any-thing like a regular basis. (In this one respect, at least, I am living testimony to what President Bill Clinton told Monica Lewinsky would ultimately happen to him ... the prostate does all us males in.') Naturally, these two realizations are not interconnected, except insofar as they impact on me. But that's precisely the point--they do impact on me, and in a big way, too.
I'm not deluding myself. Things have changed, I have changed, the world has changed around me. What I once took for granted I now spend time thinking about. The best, most fulfilling years of my professional life are certainly behind me, just as the best, most full-functioning years of my physical life are behind me as well. But I'm here to report that there are indeed other hills to climb after reaching your professional and physical peaks. There are thrills to be had, goals to be met, causes to be championed, and footprints to be left behind. My personal "bests" are behind me, but there are many more "very goods" to come.
Of course, my career peak was being elected mayor of the City of New York in 1977, after a long career as a New York City congressman, councilman, Democratic party district leader in Greenwich Village, and attorney in private practice. Serving out my three mayoral terms during one of the most exciting times in the city's history topped it all. I'll leave it to history to judge whether I served those three terms with distinction, but let me tell you, being entrusted with the good and welfare of seven and a half million New Yorkers was an honor and a challenge like no other, and working to meet that challenge was its own special reward. It would be foolish to try to match that period in my life. At the same time, however, it would be ridiculous to throw in the towel after such an extraordinary experience--to step back, shut down, and tune out of the very community I helped to sustain, and in some instances created. Having had tremendous impact at one point does not mean you should look away from having some lesser impact at a later point; or, in more poetic terms, having danced at the top doesn't foreclose continuing the dance of a meaningful life, even if at a somewhat slower pace.
It would also be foolish to attempt to match my physical powers with those I once enjoyed. I have done foolish things in my lifetime (haven't we all?), but I am not a fool and have never misled myself into thinking I can move with the same speed and devil-take-the-hindmost attitude I had as a young man. The cruel truth is my body no longer does what I want it to all the time, and sometimes it's inclined to do its own thing independent of my wishes. My physical peak was at age nineteen, more than thirty years before I was elected mayor, when I was drafted into the army and assigned to seventeen weeks of basic training at Camp Croft in Spartanburg, South Carolina. As I have often noted, I was never much of an athlete, even as a child. My favorite running comment on the matter, which I began using after becoming mayor to explain my lack of interest in baseball, was an apocryphal line I attributed to my mother. According to the story, she was always saying to me and my brother, "Harold, you go outside and play baseball. Eddie, you sit in the corner and study to be mayor."
Meet the Author
Edward Irving Koch (1924-2013) served in the United States House of Representatives from 1969 to 1977 and three terms as mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989. He was a lawyer, professor, public speaker, newspaper columnist, syndicated movie reviewer, television and radio personality, and author of twelve books.
Daniel Paisner is a New York Times best-selling author who has written numerous books.
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