12 Comments

CHECKS AND BALANCES


spikey plant

watercolor painting by KSR

Some years ago, when I was teaching at our local Community College, it occurred to me that everybody was younger and smarter than I was. They used cultural references I knew nothing about, they were up on all the newest movies, dance steps and music. (And they didn’t get out of breathe after climbing the hill to the art lab.) Suddenly my clothes began to look dated, and I started to wonder if I was going to be a frumpy old lady in a few years.

But we were into double-edged sword territory, so age wasn’t always a liability. When you’re older and don’t talk a lot, younger people often think you’re wise and they ask your advice about all kinds of things. I do adore handing out advice to people who might actually heed it. Besides it was my class, my rules. It’s amazing what you learn about the younger generation by just listening. I have children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but when it’s not personal, the floodgates open, and no subject is out of bounds. It has been a grand education, and when you don’t know what you’re talking about, just keep your mouth shut. Make allowances for each others differences.

I remember the young man who showed up for my sculpture class in a wheelchair. He was a Vietnam veteran who had had his legs blown off by a landmine. The other young men were discussing their heights one day when he remarked in a soft shy voice, “I used to be six feet.”

Then there was the woman with a crazy, lopsided blond wig, which was always askew. She wasn’t a talker, but one day she told of having had cancer as a child and hearing a nurse ignore her by telling another nurse that “she’s going to die anyway.” Now her cancer was back and she was handling it in a crazy wig and good humor.

My friend Lory O. once wrote: “With age comes wisdom, and also forgetfulness of all those wise thoughts.” It’s one of the immutable laws of the Universe that we will all be a bit forgetful at some future time of our lives. I tend to blur out the major cataclysmic occurrences of the world. There are far too many to remember clearly.

I remember the quieter, smaller happenings in our own lives and in the lives of those around us that are personally momentous, while the rest of the world lurches on, oblivious. You become a personal historian. You can’t forget everything and everyone you’ve ever know, and the list gets longer with each year.

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12 comments on “CHECKS AND BALANCES

  1. I remember watching my mother as she grew old and how she was enlivened by having young people around her. Fine painting, Kayti. I like the windows up in the corner.

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    • As I mentioned, keep your mouth shut and they don’t know how smart you are!  In silence is wisdom.

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      • Kayti, How wonderful to find your post from the 25th here today. My, how I miss you! I am always so grateful and happy for the infrequent times we get to spend together. You are one of my treasured friends, and it goes without saying that part of that is because you are so wise and beautiful in all ways
        . Be well my friend. I love you & Sam. Karen

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  2. A good and very witty story by a very wise teacher. Just remember as we absorb more it is a slower process in re-calling what we know. It is a fallacy that older people become forgetful. They , like a computer loaded with so much ‘info’, just become a bit slower in the response.
    I was going to write something very unique and insightful, but I have to think about it. I might even have forgotten. 😉

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    • The best responses come as the door closes behind someone’s backside. The more you think on it, the story gets bigger and better, and suddenly you have solved the problems of the world.  Older is better for sure.

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  3. In the midst of so many good things here, what strikes me most is the phrase, “It was my class, my rules.” That same dynamic is so useful in so many contexts.

    I once had to send off a very polite little email to a commenter on my blog. He had combined some not very nice language with a not very nice joke all in the same comment. I removed it, then explained that if I opened the door to that sort of thing, I’d be fighting it all the time. I suggested he just re-write his comment, minus the language and slur, and we’d call it good. He never did, and he’s never been back. But it was my blog, and my rules. It can be very hard to do that sort of thing, but it’s important.

    The same goes for life in general, I suppose. We have our lives, and we have to decide what the rules are going to be. It’s really a matter of boundary-setting. Interesting that, when you boil it all down, “August: Osage County” was mostly about boundaries – or the lack of them.

    Always choices – especially with memory. Part of the reason I don’t busy myself much with social media, television and “modern culture” is that there’s only so much room in my brain. If I fill it up with Miley Cyrus, political hacks and flat-nasty tv commentators, I might not have time to think about the good things in life!

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    • I can’t help but feel that the Miley Cyruses of this world appeal only to a limited few struggling individuals who may someday see the light! 

      Life is short but wide, and there are so may opportunities to develop an authentic person if we just take a chance.

      There will always be weird people, our job is to fend them off!  My 87 year old husband was walking the dog today when 2 standard poodles, off-leash attacked the dog and nearly knocked my husband down.  The two women, 50-ish, laughed and did nothing to get their dogs back.  When he told me, I gave him a few suitable expletives to give them in a return attack.  He is kinder and gentler and just threatened them with a lawsuit!

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  4. I agree that the individual is very important; the individual person, the individual event. If you concentrate on the “small picture” and then often the “big picture” will work itself out. I hope that is what you were saying.

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    • I think that is often true gill.heavens.  I believe the blogosphere has taught us to understand and respect the differences between us as individuals, and as countries.  We learn to keep our eyes open and our mouths shut.  It’s a pure delight!

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  5. Sweet post in every way.

    You provide comfort to the aging bloggers.

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  6. Love the glimpses of the man in the wheelchair and the woman in the wig. People are frequently magnificent. xx PS. Gorgeous painting.

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