Good for You, Ronnie!

In a recent post, Wisewebwoman wrote,

Which brings me to today. When I’m around the youngsters, and much as I want to, I avoid health broadcasts, my mobility limitations, the aches and pains of an elder, the medication competition. Is there anything more boring in life?

That reminds me of Andy’s philosophy, “Never talk about your ailments, when I was young that was so boring!”

I disagree with him. I say, never talk only of your ailments, they are a part of life. Don’t complain about them, become obsessed, but adversity is a part of life and talking about how we handle it is a profound subject.

Anyway, that’s the beauty of blogging, you don’t have to worry about boring people. Oh, I know, some bloggers occasionally disparage others as “boring”, but if they don’t like the blogs, then don’t read them. The posts may resonate with someone else and make a difference in their life.

What inspired this post? Ronnie Bennet’s Making Dying a Part of Living. Among other things she writes,

It is the dying, rather than death itself, I am concerned with, and I become more convinced every day now, as I live with this death sentence, that it is a gift.

A gift of time that allows me to say the things I always ought to have done but too often have not. Of time to remember. Time to wonder at the great unknown. And time to talk. Oh god, yes. To talk and and talk and talk with those who will do so with me, about everything under the sun.

We are doing that here in these pages and your comments, thoughts and stories are enriching my final days.

Even though I have met only a few of you in person, we’ve been friends of a certain kind for a long time. Imagine how you would feel if, when the time comes, someone posted a note saying I died yesterday of cancer, and you had known nothing about it until then.

Would you feel betrayed? I think I would. Would you wonder why the disease had been kept a secret? I would. And I think I would feel cheated to be able to leave only a note of condolence rather than having had this wonderful conversation we are carrying on now.
….
Dying is as much a part of living as birth. We should treat it with as much significance and honor it during every last day we have.

Good for you, Ronnie!


 

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Not His Best Day

Andy had to plow yesterday, and when he came home I asked him how it went. He said, “Not very well.” First, the windshield of the Jeep had cracked in the cold, and when he started plowing the blade of the windshield wiper on the driver’s side of the truck came off, so it was hard to see. Then when he was plowing there were some cows on the road so he had to get out and shoo them off.

He talked to our auto maintenance place yesterday afternooon and they said the windshield can wait until spring, when he doesn’t need the Jeep for the snow, and he bought a new wiper blade for the truck. Fingers crossed it goes better today!


 

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Hope or Courage?

In today’s post, Hope, Rummuser shares a quote his cousin Shakar sent him:

Hope in it’s deep and powerful sense is not the same as joy when things are going well, or the willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously headed for early success, but rather a determination to struggle for something to succeed.

Hope is definitely NOT the same as optimism. It’s not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.

The English definition of hope has more of an element of expectation in it.

hope

noun: a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

Shakar’s definition is closer to my

Play your part well and let go of the results.

Sometimes you hope for the best, but sometimes you do it in defiance, simply sticking up for your values against all odds. The word I would use is courage.


 

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Transported by Joy

The recent discussion about excitement reminded me of this BBC article: Why the French don’t show excitement.

The author argues the French don’t have a word for the way we’ve been using excitement. The French word excité has wrong connotations, and the French are more restrained than we Americans, so they don’t need words expressing that much emotional energy.

Like the seniors in the video, I’m skeptical, I don’t know about that. (Here it is again for those of you who don’t remember it.)

So I looked up the English synonyms thrilled and elated in the Cambridge Dictionary.

thrilled:

feeling great excitement and happiness

enchanté/-ée, surexcité/-ée

The kids were thrilled to see the game.
Les enfants étaient enchantés de voir le match.

elated:

very cheerful

transporté de joie

She felt elated after winning.

Hurray for the French! Sometimes the word excited doesn’t quite have it. Then elated, transported by joy, nails the idea. Have you ever been transported by joy?


 

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The Benefits of Being a Loner

The Apple video Here’s to the Crazy Ones is a refreshing contrast to headlines like this one: Neighbors recall synagogue massacre suspect as a loner. Yeah, yeah, perpetuating the myth that all “loners” are sick. America isn’t known for its tolerance of introverts and other eccentrics.

This BBC article agrees with Steve Jobs about the virtues of people willing to detach themselves from groups and chart their own paths. It points out society is a lot better off having some “loners”.

Hurray for Jobs and the BBC!


 

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Here’s to the Crazy Ones

This is a 1997 Apple ad narrated by Steve Jobs himself. It never aired because the they substituted Richard Dreyfus as the narrator before they showed it to the public.

The people shown are Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King, Jr., Richard Branson, John Lennon (with Yoko Ono), Buckminster Fuller, Thomas Edison, Muhammad Ali, Ted Turner, Maria Callas, Mahatma Gandhi, Amelia Earhart, Alfred Hitchcock, Martha Graham, Jim Henson (with Kermit the Frog), Frank Lloyd Wright, Pablo Picasso, and Shaan Sahota.

Jobs was clearly a crazy one and a lot of us, even we non-smart phone users, bless him. Apple still seems to be going strong, but I wonder what it would be like if Jobs were still around.

Probably the closest we have to him now — in completely different fields — is Elon Musk. No one doubts that he’s crazy — the SEC has ordered Tesla to keep him in line, but he is brilliant and doing some amazing things.


 

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Integrity vs Despair?

According to Eric Erickson, people between the ages of about 65 and death go through the “integrity vs despair” phase.

During the integrity versus despair stage, people reflect back on the life they have lived and come away with either a sense of fulfillment from a life well lived or a sense of regret and despair over a life misspent.

Judging from the comments to Rummuser’s, Wisewebwoman’s, and this blog’s post about excitement, most of us aren’t spending that much time looking backwards. I certainly am aware that Andy and I will be facing a lot more changes in the next few years, and there’s a good chance one of us will lose the other, but no sense despairing about it. Just do the best we can with what we have left, enjoy what we have while we still have it, and, for me, keep working on grit/stress-hardiness/resilience.

Tuesday at the eye doctor’s we saw a couple we know — he’s 92 and she’s 89. I just phoned today to find out how the visit went with her because a couple of weeks ago when I saw her she said the shots hadn’t stabilized her eye so they were trying something else. He answered the phone and said apparently it’s going well now and in fact she was gone all afternoon having a good time playing with her recorder group. I checked to make sure he was okay, and he said he was going downhill, of course, but things are still going well. He appreciated the call.

So no despair and only looking backwards there either.

Wisewebwoman says in her senior complex

One 92 yo starts each day (in tights and leotard) waltzing through the meandering vast halls. 🙂

I doubt that any of us will be doing that, and that’s fine too. It does warm my heart to think of it.


 

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Yay, Excitement!

Wisewebwoman and Rummuser` have just written posts about excitement.

Wisewebwoman asks what do we elders do and think and feel to create excitement, that type of feeling we had as children and younger adults? She talks about the things that bring her joy. I can relate to that.

Probably the one thing that floats my boat the most is solving problems. Having things, often simple, come up and letting go of the results and treating the problem as a puzzle. Yesterday’s story about the credit fraud incident is one example.

Another is losing my house key yesterday. I almost never do that anymore, but things were different from normal because when we left the house yesterday we were going to Andy’s eye doctor in Santa Fe for a scan and evaluation and a shot in his right eye. It was fairly certain it would be a long wait — about two hours and forty minutes as it turned out — so I brought plenty of things to keep myself productively amused. I thought I had put my house key in a safe place, but after we got home (Andy drove there, I drove back) I couldn’t find it.

In order to get a new key I had to talk to our management to have a new one made, and that meant either now or later they would have to change the lock. We decided not to worry about it, we would happily pay whatever it cost rather than worry about it.

Still, I was puzzled. If it had fallen out of the car we probably would have noticed, and I had looked through all of my things twice and had checked underneath and behind the passenger seat of the car. So I started puttering around with other things when the idea came — I hadn’t looked between the passenger seat and the console between the seats. So I went out and looked, and sure enough it was there, well hidden unless you knew exactly where to look.

Trivial problem, right? Yeah, but I’m still high from finding it. It turns out a big part of me is still a little kid at heart. I spent the rest of the night celebrating.

Rummuser is more interested in equanimity than in excitement and joy. I understand where he’s coming from, but I have a different take on the term:

equanimity — mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.

One of my favorite mantras is

Centered, creative, and productive.

The best thing we can do in difficult situations is to keep our brains plugged in, which means keeping our bodies relaxed. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get excited and celebrate when the answer comes. Equanimity doesn’t mean banishing joy from our lives. As usual, we’re all different, but for me that would be a really dumb thing to do.


 

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Strange Adventure

Saturday evening I received four messages from our credit card company with the subject line

Action Needed: Please confirm you made these purchases

I logged onto our account to see if there was anything fishy there, and there was one item to Blizzard Entertainment (a video game developer and publisher) for $59.99 that wasn’t ours, so I phoned the card company. The emails weren’t spam, the card company had sent them out because there were a number of other attempted charges of $57.28 for Blizzard Entertainment that the company had declined until we either authorized them or else told the company to cancel the card. We canceled the card.

We also checked to see if there were other suspicious changes. Well, sort of. There was one from Subway for $57.42 for October 27. We had gone there and paid by credit card, but the amount was way too high. We had also gone there the next day, ordered essentially the same things, and paid by cash because their credit card machine wasn’t working. Andy remembered the exact amount — $27.35. Oh, oh, we hadn’t checked the receipt at the time and certainly hadn’t saved it, but we figured we should probably tell someone even if we didn’t get any money back.

I phoned about four or five times the next day but the line was always busy, so I looked online for a way to contact someone. I found the national website and wrote them,

We were overcharged! We just now noticed we were charged $57.42 for our order on October 27. We ordered essentially the same thing the next day and had to pay cash for our $27.35 order. We were told the credit card machine wasn’t working, is that why the gross (about $30!) overcharge the previous day? We go there every time my family comes to visit and didn’t check or save the receipt because we’ve never had any problem before. We used a Visa card. Could you please correct this mistake? We do like your store and want to keep having good feelings about it.

Thank you for any help you can give us.

So either something would happen or it wouldn’t, we had done our part.

And today I had this message on our answering machine when I got back from Silver Sneakers,

I couldn’t understand the number she asked me to phone, so I recorded it on my iPod touch and took it down to the local store. They listened to it and paid me the $30. Since they hadn’t phoned her to get permission, I did get her number from them to let her know and to make sure she was okay with it. Yes, she was happy it was settled and apologized again.

It was a fairly trivial affair but thanks to modern technology — the internet and my iPod touch — it was a satisfying adventure in problem solving. As the saying goes,

You don’t have to leave home to have an adventure!


 

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Never a Dull Moment

I just received this email from Andy:

Will be late-no clouds. High winds. Will send on my way again when finished with any new tree. 3:52

Yes, the dead trees are still falling across the roads when the winds blow. But it shouldn’t be as bad as described in this October, 2014 post:

It’s now been over three years since the fire, and the smaller trees are starting to fall down when it’s windy. Andy encountered them in four places on the way home yesterday. In the first three spots he cut them enough so he could drive around them.

At First Spot Before

Trees at First Spot — Before

At First Spot After

Trees at First Spot — After

At Second Spot Before

Trees at Second Spot — Before

At Second Spot After

Trees at Second Spot — After

 At Third Spot Before

Trees at Third Spot — Before

At Third Spot After

At Third Spot — After

But when he came to the fourth place, he had the option of coming back on another road, so he took it. It was time to come home.

Trees at the Fourth Spot

Trees at the Fourth Spot

Needless to say, he expects to do more sawing today.

Yes, there’s never a dull moment up there! Fingers crossed for him. As I said, it shouldn’t be nearly as bad now.


 

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