Yikes! It's mid-Monday and I just realized I hadn't done...anything. When all else fails, I tend to post things I wrote...oh, years ago...in the hope no one will remember having read it before. This one's dated--it is, after all, about seven years old--but I feel pretty much the same way now as I did then. Thanks for reading. Sorry it's not writing-related!
The world, even with all its terrors and horrible events, is a wondrous place. Humankind’s intelligence, which gives us all kinds of great things, is an amazing thing. We, as a species, have learned to fight disease, to make ourselves beautiful, to be healthy, to gain wealth or choose to live without it. We’ve also learned to destroy everything around us: the air, the water, the very ground we walk on. We’ve learned that we have choices, yet we all too often choose to tear down rather than build up, to hate rather than to love, to rage against that which we cannot change instead of laughing in its face.
As you age, it is undeniable that certain aspects of life begin to go south. I can no longer touch my wrist with my thumb, bite my big toe, or remember anything that has happened recently. (I can, however, recite my brothers’ service numbers from when they were in the Navy and Marines 40-some years ago and remember what time Bonanza was on Channel 16 on Sunday nights--right after Ed Sullivan on Channel 22. I’m sure that somewhere in the scheme of things, this will come in handy.) I can’t, even if I lose enough weight to fit comfortably into the charts put out by insurance companies who dream small, wear a two-piece bathing suit in public. If I pierced my navel, the earring would get lost in the extra flesh and probably have to be surgically retrieved. And, if someone tells me to open my eyes wide, I have to tell them they are opened wide, but that the skin’s too heavy to lift itself up anymore.
“She’s not aging gracefully,” my husband said recently about someone who...well, isn’t. And it has nothing to do with how she looks. It has to do with the fact that she wants to have the same place in the world she had when she was 30. To tell the truth, we’d all like to have a place like that, where our kids had to listen to us (though I don’t recall that mine ever did), TV programming was made-to-order for our watching pleasure, and we could buy books that were written about people like us.
Then there’s the other truth. As in, it’s not going to happen. Marketing experts have pushed anyone over 50 completely off the screen of consumers-who-might-be-interested. (I have never quite figured this out, as it seems to me we have more money to spend than we had 20 years ago, but there must be some rhyme and reason to it.) Politicians don’t pursue our vote. Movie-makers don’t understand or don’t care that a lot of us would rather see Sally Field than the blonde-of-the-month.
But, there are plenty of young women in two-piece bathing suits to keep the beaches interesting to the opposite gender, I already have two holes pierced in each ear, so don’t really need anymore, and I’m afraid if I got my eyes fixed, I’d look surprised all the time. Most people don’t, but I would. I would be concerned if my children started listening to me at this late date, I’d rather do almost anything than watch television, and the nice thing about books is that they don’t go out of date. If you don’t like the ones published in 2006--and chances are, if you don’t like suspense, you probably won’t--you can always read the ones published in 1975. If you don’t like new movies, you can watch old ones.
And there’s always the fact that we do still have choices and that we’ve learned by this stage of the game that the only important criteria in the choices we make is that we not hurt anyone else in the process. I don’t think anyone I know cares that I haven’t been to the theatre since Duane and I went to see Space Cowboys and that I haven’t watched network television since “Murder, She Wrote” went off the air.
There’s not much we can do about any of this, other than make the choices that are right for us. And we can be careful not to tear down, not to hate, not to stake too much on things we can’t change. And, when all else fails, we can keep right on laughing.