Friday, May 20, 2011

Aging Gracefully - Part II

Part II in a series of musings and ramblings concerning turning 50.

While Shirley McLaine and I certainly differ on a lot of views, I loved her concept for her latest book, I’m Over All That.  
At a certain time in life, we all come to realize what is truly important to us and what just doesn't matter.  In this wise, witty, and fearless collection of small observations and big-picture questions, Shirley MacLaine shares with readers all those things that she is over dealing with in life, in love, at home, and in the larger world... as well as the things she will never get over, no matter how long she lives.
In fact, I loved it so much that – with credit and thanks to Ms. MacLaine – I have written  my own list of things I’m over, some I’ll never be over and some I’m still working on. 

I’m over drive-through windows.  I hate the things and I refuse to use them except when absolutely necessary.  (It’s the only way to get a Sonic Strawberry Lime-Ade).  They are impersonal, frustrating and part of the cult of speed I choose not to join.  Besides, I usually have to go inside to use the restroom anyway.

I’m over pantyhose and heels.  The contortions, hot flashes and aching feet associated with wearing these two items serve no productive purpose at this age.  They are reserved for funerals and Easter Sunday.

I’m over rude behavior.  There is a scarcity of common courtesy, manners and respect in the world.  We taught our son to hold doors, and to offer his seat to a woman or his elder.  We taught our daughter to accept these courtesies graciously. There is nothing sexist or demeaning in that.  “It has to do with noticing our fellow human beings and saying, ‘I recognize that you’re on this planet, and I don’t want a door hitting you in the face.’” - Tim Gunn.  We taught them both to say please and thank you, to give assistance where they can, to speak respectfully, to write a thank-you note when they receive a gift, and to apologize when they are wrong.  I’m not so deluded that I think they always follow these rules – I have lapses myself – but they are some of the basic guidelines for how I choose to live my life, how I hope my children live, and how I expect to be treated in return.

Technology has played a large role in sucking the civility out of the world.  It creates the illusion of an isolated world that consists of just me and my music or conversation.  Why should the person on the other end of your cell phone take precedence over the people you are contacting face-to-face? Hang up and give your full attention to the person taking your order, ringing up your purchase or just saying “Good Morning” as you pass - not to mention the friends, family or co-workers who are actually in the car, in the room, or at the table with you.   Same goes for texting.  

And speaking of texting… the delusion of anonymity in e-mails, texts and Facebook adds to the rudeness quotient.  People say things via electronics that they wouldn’t have the nerve to say (or that they would wise up and re-think) in person.  My greatest regret as the parent of teens was allowing texting, instant messaging and Facebook.  

While I can’t control how others behave – including my own children, at this point – I choose to be over rude behavior and not participate.

I’ll never be over books in paper form.  This is not to say that I dislike the convenience of Nooks and Kindles, or that I wouldn’t like to own one just because they’re cool – but I will never be over browsing library aisles, pulling a book out to examine and returning it to it’s spot in the ordered line-up.  I will never be over that first moment when you step into a bookstore and are surrounded by shiny new covers all calling “read me” like a literary Audrey II.   I will never be over opening a dog-eared, cracked-spined paperback to find old friends.

I’ll never be over General Hospital.  I’ve known these people for thirty years.  I remember when Luke and Laura first met; when Jesse Brewer commanded the nurses desk; when Heather Webber discovered P.J. Taylor was actually her son, Stephen Lars.  I’ve stuck with them through heart transplants, car bombs, AIDS, mob wars, mental illness, rape, evil twins, hostage crises, Mr. Big and the Ice Princess – I can’t abandon them now.

To be continued...

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post! I know what you mean about never being over books. As much as I love my Kindle, there is nothing like browsing through a book store and picking up and checking out the physical books. Sigh.

    Great list by the way.