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A lot of people have way too much time on their hands…

I might be one of them, of course, but as I type this I am also working on heading out to do all the other semi-important things I have scheduled for today.

What I mean is: a lot of people say “I’m bored.  There’s nothing to do.”  This is not just limited to small children or teenagers, this seeps into adulthood.  The reason I mention this is because I have seen people talking on their cell phones complaining about having nothing to do while they are doing something else.  Maybe it’s a generational-gap thing?

I own a cellphone (who do you take me for? A retrograde?,) but I don’t spend a lot of time on it…that is: the cellphone is not part of my daily entertainment.  I’ve seen people waiting for the “walking man” at a corner so they can cross to the other side and, because they don’t seem to want to just wait, they start dialing the cellphone they’re holding in their hand.

What is up with that?

What do they talk about?  What is so gosh-darned important, nay…IMPERATIVE…that they can’t wait until they get to the other side of the street or sit down somewhere?

I walk around looking at people.  I hardly ever get a look back.  People seem to be hiding behind whatever titillating conversation they think they’re carrying on with a minuscule piece of equipment.  People order coffee, pay for groceries, order lunch, pump gas, retrieve money from ATMs, load things into their car trunk, open and close doors, eat…while talking on the phone.

Is anyone THAT interesting?  I mean this as a serious question.  I can’t be ON all the time, if you know what I mean.  There are times when I simply, GASP, have absolutely nothing to say or contribute.

Same goes for texting.  I have seen people just tap, tap, tapping away with their thumbs and then letting out a peal of laughter (that, by the way, sounds totally affected) and tap, tap, tapping away.  The funny thing is, and I’ve asked my son and his friends about this in the past, they are replying in abbreviated expressions: LOL, WTF, OMG, ROTFLMAO, BRB, TTYL…

I see people sitting together at a Starbucks, each with a drink and a cellphone, totally engrossed in the individual conversation they are conducting through this device and only engaging with the other person to tell them what they are talking about on their cellphones.  My turn to say: OMG, WTF…UR KIDDING!

The more connected…the more apart…

WHAT, really, is so friggin’ important you can’t wait to get home, kick your shoes off, relax and then discuss it over the phone?  And does so-and-so REALLY need to know right now that you just found the cutest shoes ever?

To get here I had to learn to communicate, only now it seems that communicating is obsolete.  We don’t talk to each other; we talk at each other.  Is anyone listening?  Is anyone understanding or empathizing?  Or is it just OMG from here on end?

To get here I learned something that seems to be utterly useless these day…whoopee ding yay me.

 

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Once you tell yourself “I’m going to be the bigger person,” you’re already NOT being the bigger person.  Bigger personhood should happen naturally, without self-prompting and, quite possibly, without self-recognition.

I’m not being self-righteous…I’ve said “I’m going to be the bigger person” quite a few times.  The fact that I have to announce this to myself already takes some of the sweetness out of my largesse.

When was the last time you did something nice and didn’t even notice that you had?  How second nature is it?  Don’t worry if you say “I can’t remember” because, as a general rule, we always know when we’re being nice or generous or giving or…you know what I mean.  Even when people in movies seem to be acting selflessly, once the camera cuts to a close-up where a small tear rolls down the cheek or a wistful look is seen as they turn and walk away, that is self-recognition.

I’m not saying that generosity has to be completely unconscious.  If you tell yourself that you’re going to be good to other people without exceptions and with a smile on your face, you are declaring a purpose, a mission, a credo.  If you isolate each act of generosity, that’s another story.

I’m not criticizing…I’m just stating my opinion and hoping that you’ll give it some thought, even if you end up disagreeing with me.

To get here, well, I had to stop reminding myself that I was being good or kind, and I just had to be whatever the moment called for.  I’m not keeping score…and, for the most part, people have no idea what I do for others.  Good deeds should spread because we see them happen, not because we see the hand that is behind them.

Does that make sense?

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Who are all the famous people and how come I don’t know they’re famous?  I check the news online and I read headlines about so-and-so and so-and-so-so, and I find myself scratching my head wondering where they came from and what they’re known for…so I use Wikipedia (don’t judge…you use wikipedia, too) or Google and I am informed of their claim to fame.  Usually it amounts to “not much.”

Which leads me to this:  I am SO glad I’m absolutely anonymous.  I’ve googled myself (and so have you) and I come up with very little…a quote from a news article many years ago, a mention in a classmates list for a school reunion, and that’s about it.  I am virtually unknown; the only people that know me are the people who have actually been acquainted with me!  There are no pictures of me anywhere, and even if they came up with one, the worst thing it would show is me eating a burger or doing something genuinely silly…

I sometimes wonder what it would feel like to be the sort of person who is met by cameras when they step out of their house.  I wonder more often about why anyone would want to be the sort of person who is met by cameras when they step out of their house.  Why would anyone want to live in a fishbowl?  Why would anyone want to share every minuscule (and that’s often what they are) thought?  Why would people want to reveal EVERYTHING there is to reveal about them?

There are things that are just too private, too personal, and yet you see headlines about them everywhere.  There is no sorrow so deep that we won’t see it plastered on headlines, blurbs, and so forth…  Why do we do this?  Why do we not only relish other people’s bad news and follies, but we feel we have to be the sort of person who shares it all?

So…this is another thing I had to do to get here: I had to learn that my sorrow is mine, and I can share it, but not display it.  I don’t know if that works for everyone, but it works for me.  There are things that you will notice about me if you ever meet me, and I won’t have to tell you about them because they are perceptible to the naked eye.  There are things you will have to discover through hard work and interaction, through the awkward process of getting to know me.

I don’t want to, in my own minor way, become the type of individual that is preceded by headlines.  “Oh, here comes the girl that….” or “didn’t she have her ______ stolen by ______?” or “Yeah, yeah…she slept with so-and-so and had a baby with this other guy…”  None of these things have happened to me, of course, but they have happened in headlines everywhere.  We have turned ourselves into goldfish, and then we try to reel ourselves back in when we realize the world has taken ownership of our privacy…

There’s a big difference between being “entertaining” from time to time and turning yourself into “the entertainment.”

On to the next thing…

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Very much like Alice, she of Wonderland fame, I’ve believed six impossible things before breakfast.  This, believe it or not, is not an unhealthy thing because, from time to time, it propels me to some sort of greatness.  The main thing is that one has to definitely factor in things like age, resources and opportunity…if the thing you think is still impossible, but not overwhelmingly so, go for it.

What is the worst that could happen?  Wile E. Coyote seems to have thrived.  Of course, he was a cartoon character, but if you don’t take the absurdity of some of his endeavors into account, you have to admire his determination.  Also, consider that Wile E. Coyote became funnier when he no longer had the luxury of speaking in that arrogant, somewhat ridiculous tone in which he said “I am a supra-genius.”  Once he stopped boasting about his degree of intelligence and cunning, he became funnier and more admirable…

The other side of the coin is that you should always tell people where you’re going.  You might want to be found, trust me.  Aron Ralston would have liked to be found before he had to make an extreme decision, right?  So try to strike a balance between Wile E. Coyote and Aron Ralston…be brave, be courageous, be a little silly…and always be prepared.

So…try the impossible and the absurd.  And don’t boast about your success or your ability; that simply makes you arrogant.

 

 

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There is such a thing as too much rest.  Even though my shoulder hurts, for no reason other than I’m old, I am tired of vegetating in spite of the fact that not vegetating seems to make matters worse.

That’s all I can say today…

Well…I could say ow, ow, dammit, ow, and several other more colorful interjections, but I’ll refrain.  Don’t want to come across as a whiner…

But I AM whining and I feel tremendously useless because I need to sit down and let the stupid shoulder rest from time to time…

Aging sucks.

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These are a few things I think every person should know how to do:

1) sew a button on (because not everything comes with Velcro);

2) write a proper letter expressing condolences, gratitude or complaint (because “I’m so sorry!,” “Thanks for the nice…,” and “you suck” are not enough;

3) how to burp a baby and change a diaper (even if you think you’ll never be left alone with a human being who might require either);

4) set a table for dinner (because not everyone knows how in this age of grabbing something on-the-go that comes equipped with a spork, condiments and a napkin wrapped in plastic);

5) how to cook one kick-ass meal with less than five ingredients;

6) how to use a phonebook, a dictionary, a library’s catalog (because not everything will always be accessible electronically in every single place you visit);

7) whether one digs the hole before or after when answering the call of nature in the wild;

8) how to change a flat tire;

9) what Rick really tells Sam in Casablanca when he wants “As Time Goes By” played;

10) how to clean a kid’s sudden outburst of “artwork” on a wall painted with matte paint, especially since they will always choose Maroon, Pine Green, Forest Green, Navy Blue and Purple from the Crayola box…(try baby wipes or a white eraser)…

 

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There’s nothing like getting a letter in the mail…

E-mail is fine.  I like seeing e-mails appear magically in my inbox, especially if they don’t inform me that I’ve inherited a vast amount of money from a member of Nigerian royalty who, of all the people in the world, decided to bestow it on me.  I believe we are all related (even if through the most tenuous of links, tracing all the way back to the first people who walked the face of this planet), but I don’t think any of my Nigerian ancestors would’ve kept track of me…

Letters, however, are a different story.

I don’t know if you’ve ever received bona fide correspondence.  You know the kind I mean: a letter written on paper with ink, the shapes of the words as much a picture of the person who’s written them as the meaning the chain of loops and curves and dips and zags conveys.  I mean a letter in an envelope with a stamp glued to it…not a postcard from the Hallmark store with a sentiment or a picture already printed.  I mean a letter.

I used to keep a shoe box in which I stored all my letters.  I was young then.  The letters were often re-read and, thirty years later, some of them are committed to memory…if I close my eyes, I can read their pages.  Some were happy letters and some, well, some were not happy at all.  This was before the days of spell-check, of fonts you could change or words you could delete simply by backspacing…there was no immediate answer.  If you were angry, you stewed as you wrote…you realized you felt like editing…you slowly calmed down…or you got more incensed.  By the time the letter got to the other side, you had time to go through a whole spectrum of feeling.

I have, imbedded in my brain, the most hurtful letter I ever received; it was hurtful because it broke my heart and because it was brief and seemed completely lacking in feeling.

Even that letter is special to me.

Thirteen years ago yesterday I mailed a greeting card that changed my life.  I know…I said that a letter and a greeting card are not the same thing, but I needed the cushion of a card, the comfort of heavier stock paper…of a sunflower and a bee…  I mailed this card to the author of the contents of that shoe box…  After walking to the mailbox and raising the little flag to let the mail carrier know that there was an outgoing letter, I stood at the window and waited.  The little mail truck drove up, grabbed the outgoing mail, dropped the incoming mail and puttered down the street to the next mailbox…and I gave chase, still afraid of fate.

The story is long and convoluted, and you wouldn’t be interested in it anyway so I will skip it, but be assured that I love letters.

I owe a lot to letters…and you won’t get one back unless you send one out.

I guess people don’t do that anymore, but you should try it…

Anyway…to get to where I am today, I had to write and receive a lot of letters…

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