I hope you’ll find an epiphany somewhere in my column today. Don’t worry, I’m not going all cerebral on you; I just want to share some Truisms that help me make sense out of life. If they make you think, “I knew that!”, I’ve done my job. Let’s go!
- There’s somebody for everybody
This one took hold on me years ago when I was working with some very quirky people. Since “quirky” is subjective and may mean nothing more than “way different from me”, my quirky may be your normal; we each have the right to think what we think (see below). One lady I considered quirky had a larger-than-life personality and a voice to go with it. She didn’t talk like most of us, and she didn’t dress like most of us, but she had a good heart, and she was looking for love. She was a heavy smoker, always headed outside to burn another one, and I worried that she would never find a partner, but find love she did, right out back at the smoking table! It was a sweet wedding (albeit a bit loud).
Look around the next time you’re at a ball game or party, or out shopping; you’ll spot them: couples who seem so mis-matched you wonder how they ever got started. You may even have a friend that you worried would never find love, and they’re now blissfully partnered-up with just the right person. There’s somebody for everybody, and that brings hope to us all!
- Everybody’s got something
I don’t spend much time on Facebook anymore, because I fell into reading all the look-at-my-perfect-life posts by distant friends I hardly know. I happen to think my *own* life is awesome, even if I’m not well-retired to a tiny community and taking charcuterie classes at night, but I’ve cut back on my sharing these days, just because.
Look, nobody’s life is perfect; everybody’s got something. You may not know it, but it’s there. That sweet little older couple in church may spend every waking hour praying for a grandchild in the grip of addiction. That grouchy lady being rude to your server may have a swelling that she’s terrified to have checked. The sullen man behind you in line may be about to lose his job and is too embarrassed to tell his family. Your coworker may be afraid his wife is seeing someone else.
While really close friends may share their burdens with one another, this Truism is about the somethings we hold way down deep. The ones we may not even admit to ourselves.
Always be kind, because you never know what someone else is going through. Everybody’s got something.
- Everything is somewhere
Way before it was defined, I was a template for ADHD. Had they known of its existence, my Central Primary teachers would have slapped that label on me before the bell for recess. I developed adaptive behaviors like list-making, and I even had fancy fidget toys with names like pen, pencil, and eraser. To me, ADHD is a gift that leads me to embrace fun and love adventure, and it powers my creative streak too.
The most annoying aspect of this thing has always been that gasp of anxiety that comes when I can’t find something. Early on, I learned that if I put something back where I got it, it would usually be there the next time I needed it, but this system flew out the dorm window when I arrived at Furman. What drove me the craziest was that hall-mates would borrow my hairbrush (wait till I do a column on words like “hairbrush”) and not put it back. They meant no harm and I didn’t want to get mad about it, so I managed my nerves by telling myself “Breathe…my brush is not gone; it is somewhere.” And, it always was.
You know how people say getting older makes you forget where you put things? That’s not going to be a problem for me; I’ve already adapted! The next time you get that tightness because you can’t find something, just remember this: everything is somewhere. Then take a deep breath and go look for it.
- What somebody thinks is what somebody thinks
I was recently in a conversation with a diverse group of friends, and the subject of (surprise) masks came up. This group had more political stripes than a tiger, and the talk grew louder as each one justified his/her stance on masks. Seriously? If we haven’t learned by now that we can’t change somebody’s mind about masks, it’s time to stop trying.
Unless it’s essential to your position to do so, don’t waste another molecule of your life’s energy discussing masks. You’re not going to change my mind, and I’m not going to change yours, and that’s just about masks. Try convincing somebody that there’s no way her friend’s cell phone could have magnetically stuck to her arm after her COVID vaccine.
How many times has an ad or editorial actually changed your mind about something you already believed? There ya go: what somebody thinks is what somebody thinks.
- We’re never always able to do everything
While my GRAND column started out for people over 50 (aka “grownups”), I try to speak to all generations. I don’t read a lot of senior adult articles because my identity is not all wrapped up in being a senior adult. I’m much more than that, and anyway, the same things are going to happen to all of us if we’re lucky to live long enough. I have a perspective on this.
Is it harder for me to open jars these days because I’m getting older? Maybe/maybe not; I don’t dwell on it. Instead, I just grab one of those little rubber grippy-mats I used to give away when the hospital did senior health fairs, and then I open the jar. So what if I need a rubber grippy-mat? Guess what? I couldn’t open that jar when I was four years old, either!
Is it harder for me to lift my cast iron cornbread pan these days? Maybe, but so what? I couldn’t have lifted it when I was six years old, either.
Life is made of seasons: we’re never always able to do everything.
And finally, the true-ist Truism of all, dedicated to my best paddle-buddy friend and partner in mischief, Gena Agnew (but you need to read this first):
Gena and I have shared countless hours of friendship and adventure over decades. She introduced me to the river twenty years ago, and oh, what stories we can tell (and some we won’t)! We’ve crashed over dams and trees, paddled straight past our takeout point (twice!), and even found a body, but what we’ve really found is friendship. We’ve hiked, traveled, laughed, played tennis, weathered drama and celebrations, and are unconditionally here for one another.
As I write this, Gena is in the hospital and extremely ill. Had she not sought care when she did, she would not be with us now. The doctors (and I) believe she will get better, but it is going to be a very long haul. I pray for her healing, and I pray that we’ll be back on the water by summer, but that is not promised right now. Gena, you’ve always shown me how to enjoy life, sometimes daring me, sometimes dragging me, and the memories we’ve made will last our lifetimes. I want these to be LONG lifetimes, so I’m praying for your steady and complete recovery!
And with that, our last Truism:
- “You might as well enjoy life, because you’ll never get out of it alive!”
-Dr. Raymond Young, many years ago.