Sunday, December 7, 2014

Aging happens, when we're lucky

I suppose there's nothing terribly remarkable about it:  Having passed the half-century mark, I find myself comparing myself to others around my age.  How is it that some of the people my own age are starting to "look old"?  I don't feel old.  I don't look old.  Even if I no longer pass for twenty, a combination of lifestyle choices, genetics, and sheer luck do help me look young for my age.  One person recently suggested that my generally cheerful, optimistic outlook contributes to preserving a youthful appearance.  I can definitely agree that it helps to preserve health and well-being, whatever the effect on my outer appearance may be.

But why do I give a damn in the first place?

Like many people who reach life's midpoint, I find I still have many things I want to do, goals I want to accomplish, visions for myself and for my life that I have yet to fulfill--visions that, as with many of us, I thought already would have been fulfilled by now.

And yet I also intend to live to be at least ninety.

Here's the thing:  If I intend to live into my nineties, I have four decades waiting to be filled.  If I had already accomplished everything I wanted to do with my life, what would I be doing with those four decades?  Rocking in a rocking chair griping about how things ain't the way they used to be back in my day?

The secret fear, of course, is that I won't actually make it that far.

Fair enough.  Life certainly throws its share of curve balls.  Yet on reflection, I'd rather plan and prepare for more years than I have than sit around for decades waiting to die.  A truly successful life, however long it lasts, should always end with some business left unfinished.  I want my life to be a work in progress right up until the end.

And if I plan to live into my nineties, I need to make peace with the fact that I will not always look forty--and that a well-earned, authentic old age is indeed a beautiful way to be.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Economics is futile. You will be assimilated.

One of the biggest myths in our culture is that economics is governed by immutable laws.  Any action to change one aspect of the ways we create our economy, the ways we do business, is ultimately futile, we are told, because the Laws of Economics will kick in and neutralize our efforts.  Hence, we have no choice but to accept that The Way It Is really is the way it is.

Don't buy it.

Economics is a human creation.  What humans create, humans can change.  While it may be true that taking Action A tends to result in Reaction B, that does not automatically imply that Action A is not worth taking.  Alternatively, we can choose to see that yes, people tend to respond to Action A with Reaction B, and we can go on to conclude that we can therefore take Reaction B into consideration and counter or minimize its effect with Action C.

If you notice, for example, that accepting returns without a receipt tends to lead to some people stealing high-priced items from your store and then "returning" them for cash, you have options other than saying forget it, no returns without a receipt, period.  You can limit which items, or which dollar amounts, in a return will be accepted without a receipt.  You can keep a record of returns without receipt and track which people always seem to be making returns with no receipt.  You can make it a policy that returns not accompanied by a receipt will be granted or rejected at the store's discretion, encouraging the honest people to retain receipts until they are certain they will not need to return anything from that purchase.

On the broader scale, we don't have to simply accept such tropes as, "If you raise the minimum wage, that will just push prices up and employment down, so it's useless to raise the minimum wage."  Who wants us to believe that?  Who benefits from our meek acceptance that a substandard standard of living is An Immutable Law Of Economics?  Think about it.  Question it.  Question why it's supposedly impossible to pay a few more dollars an hour to food service and retail workers, yet very possible to pay thousands upon thousands of dollars as "bonuses" to executives.  Yes, the work of running a business is real work and should be rewarded, but is it really that much more worthwhile than the day-to-day work at the ground level of keeping the business in business?

And do we feel safe even considering that question, let alone asking it?  Or have we internalized the belief that our security and safety, however modest and tenuous they are, rest in keeping silent?

Perhaps the biggest deception of all is to prevent us from seeing our own power:  to think, to question, to create alternatives, to effect change.

Don't buy it.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Indeed, I AM

Celebrate awakening:
     You have seen the day.

The sun has risen;
     the snow, melted,
nourishing a symphonic spring,
     a cantata in the key of
     survival, gold and green:

I AM !

Celebrate your own
     resurrection
from the realm of the dead.

When the ones who
     buried you
poke around the old
     whitewashed rot,

Send an angel
     to declare:
You are not there.

You are risen, indeed.


(2014)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

I don't get lonely, or maybe I do

As an introvert, I don't think of myself as someone who gets lonely.  I enjoy solitude.  I thrive on solitude.  I need solitude to ground and center and balance myself.  I can and have spent entire days alone, entire weekends alone, reading and writing and listening to music and simply enjoying the restorative power of peace, quiet, and inward focus.

I never get lonely.  Or do I?

Yes, upon reflection, I do know how it feels to feel lonely.  When I do feel lonely, however, it is not when I am alone.

When people ridicule me and belittle me, I feel lonely.

When people treat me as a thing not worthy of respect, I feel lonely.

When I am shamed for expressing my point of view simply because my point of view doesn't "fit in" with the rest of the people in a group, I feel lonely.

When people mock my words and dismiss my ideas, I feel lonely.

When people ignore that I have spoken, I feel lonely.

When people talk around me, playing the conversational equivalent of "Monkey in the Middle," carrying on among themselves as if I have not spoken, I feel lonely.

And I feel angry.

And manipulated.

And hurt.

And violated.

And voiceless.

BUT.

I do have a voice.

I have every right to be heard, and to have my voice respected, and to be respected in speaking my truths, whether or not anyone else sees the way I do.

And when I remember my own dignity and worth, derision and shame cease to have any real power over me.

And I am no longer lonely.