We are living in an age of escalating dread… with random killings, bombings, racist terror, and seemingly endless wars. We are all feeling vulnerable, and these reminders of our mortality are intensified for me because of the changes taking place in my own house.

I have lived in the same home for 45 years; originally built in 1937, it’s a big house surrounded by adobe walls, on an acre of land that needs lots of attention. It has been the refuge and ceremonial foundation of our family life; we have celebrated all the lifecycle events here, and survive the traumas; I shudder at the thought of leaving the sacred grounds.

Alas, the time has clearly come to downsize; the house is old, the plumbing needs replacement, the heating and air-conditioning pumps need upgrading, and all these external changes are mirrored in the breakdowns of our own pipes and pumps. We are getting old (the kids and grandkids remind us we have already arrived), and if we move I’d like this to be the last one.

The question is, where do we go? We’ve looked at retirement communities, some luxurious with five-star concierge services and offering graduated care should you ever need it. Even the more modest ones seem like end-of-the-road “gray farms” of impending decay to me. It’s not my cup of tea, I don’t want to live in such a closed community. I need a place where I can stroll with young and old people, a community with arts, theater, music, a corner coffee shop to sip and have a conversation.

The Phoenix downtown is experiencing a vibrant revitalization and has all those options available, but my wife is less enthusiastic about the neighborhood; she would prefer a 55+ gated community with amenities and planned activities. The thought of it makes me cringe.

In three weeks we will be married for 55 years, it’s been a wonderful, loving partnership with plenty of challenging times and we are committed to hanging out together. However, I’ve got to say that I’m not use to living in such bewildering and uncertain times and it’s intensifying my vulnerabilities.

In these times that frighten and demoralize us, remember what you value most because that will inspire and give you hope.