“You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out”

I love movies. I love movies almost as much as I love music. Just like daily happenings remind me of songs, things that happen during the day remind me of movies. Last Sunday, I awoke and was inspired to write a story. At least I thought I was inspired. It might have been avoidance behavior; not wanting to attend to chores or do anything requiring physical exertion. I wrote my story, posted it in my blog, and like Ralphie in “A Christmas Story,” I awaited the accolades and recognition of its truth-promoting potential to pour in (A++++++++ on the virtual blackboard of blog comments). Like Ralphie believed his essay on the attributes of the Red Rider BB gun would shine the light of truth on the merit of his request for one for Christmas; I believed my short story would illuminate the value of truth over rhetoric and acceptance over intolerance. I thought my words would finally make clear that it is better to love than to hate.

I awaited the worldwide accolades that would surely come my way. I imagined the nightly news would feature a picture of Pope Francis (he really is a great guy who gets that it is better to love than to hate) as they read his statement, “Even an average middle-aged retiree in Albuquerque, New Mexico gets that love is better than hate. The truth is, hate tears down and love builds up. Come on people. Read the story. Different isn’t bad. It’s what allows us to see all sides of an issue and solve real problems. We just have to truthfully examine all sides of the problem.” My imagination, like Ralphie’s, tends to overemphasize my influence (and my writing talent).

Another one of my favorite movies is “The Invention of Lying.” One of the gifts of retirement is more movie-watching time. This gift is increased by the stay-at-home-and-watch-movies mandate resulting from the pandemic (the gift that keeps on giving). In “The Invention of Lying,” the main character inadvertently tells a lie and avoids the consequences and accountability (at least at that moment) of the truth. He’s the first to tell a lie, and he immediately sees the potential. He can avoid hurting others, by replying to requests for his opinion with small lies when the truth would be hurtful. He can do things that are hurtful, and then lie when asked if he did so. The possibilities would be endless. Ricky Gervais, one of the writers, is pretty clever. After inventing lying, the character played by Gervais chooses not to lie, when a lie would harm a loved one. Even after inventing lies, he wasn’t going to use lies to hurt people. Wouldn’t it be great if that were the truth of lying now. Not using lies to hurt people has been written out of the screenplay of “Now.”

While working, I would often use many words to tell a co-worker to stop a behavior that I believed was negative or destructive. Apparently, I have brought this practice with me into retirement. I wrote a story intended to remind people that lies and hate are harmful. The truth is, people already know this. I like writing, so I write. What I write is not always great. The truth is, I don’t work hard enough at it for it to be great. I let words flow and hope for the best. I hope that we will not allow ourselves to be manipulated by lies and intolerance. I hope (my friend Shari is big into hope – she’s wonderful) that we can embrace differences and reject hate. Can’t we all just get along? Oh, by the way, do these pants make me look fat?

It’s Not Friday

It’s not Friday, but I had an idea (this does not mean it is a good idea) pop in to my head for a story. I thought, what the heck, I’ll go ahead and write it. Here it is.

The Great Unmasking

There was a vaccine. After months of widespread illness, isolation, fear and mask wearing, the universal availability of an effective vaccine had led to, initially an idea, and ultimately the plan for “A Great Unmasking.” There were supporters of the idea in every country on the planet. They came together, virtually of course, to finalize the plan. A date and time was chosen, when masks would be publically removed, exposing the facial expressions (and supposedly the personal character) beneath. As with most widespread, highly publicized events, there was great anticipation and many misconceptions.

The time was set. It did not vary by location. Some would be unmasked to the rising sun, while others’ unmasked faces would reflect the colors of the sunset. Those unmasked where it was night would have the advantage darkness provides, limiting the risks involved with immediate exposure. Some strategically travelled to the places where it would be night.

I was in a place where the event took place at mid-day. My location was afforded neither the softening beauty of sunrise or sunset, nor the cover of darkness. The sun was directly overhead as we emerged from our homes, masks still in place.

Throughout the pandemic, I had marveled at the variety of masks. The variety included style and material. Some were makeshift consisting of scarfs pulled up over the nose and mouth while others were made of paper and looked clinical and plain. Others were beautifully crafted and ornate. Some were cunningly clever.

I had always suspected that the style of the face covering reflected the character of the wearer. We had been masked for a very long time. I was anxious to see the faces behind the masks. I had long ago forgotten where there was beauty and where there was not.

It was an election year. I strongly disagreed with those supporting the “other side.” I suspected that once unmasked the faces of those with signs in their yards supporting the “other side” would reveal an ugliness of spirit that I was sure drove their political bus to the polls. I anticipated a ray of sunshine would highlight the righteousness of my beliefs revealed on my face as I removed my mask.

The morning of “The Great Unmasking” seemed to drag on as long as the pandemic. The time from ten a.m. to eleven a.m. seemed three times as long as the time from six a.m. to seven a.m. had. I had put on my very best mask before preparing to run outside and rip it off. Now the final countdown had arrived: 11:50…, 11:51…., 11:52….., 11:53…….., 11:54………, 11:55…….., 11:56……….., 11:57………….(my hand on the doorknob), 11:58……………(my hand turning the doorknob), 11:59……………(my hand pushing the door open), NOON! I ran from my house and tore off my mask. Why had I taken the time to carefully choose what was to be so enthusiastically discarded?

I scanned my neighborhood, examining the newly exposed faces of neighbors. I anxiously looked for the monstrous and/or righteous truths I expected to be revealed. Their faces were just faces. Some smiled at me, even though signs in their yards proclaimed support for ideologies very different from my own. Some scowled, even though signs in their yards mirrored those in my own.

There were good and not so good people underneath those masks, regardless of the signs in their yards. My expectation of what truth would be revealed by unmasking was not validated. Not all who subscribed to beliefs different from mine, or wore different styles of masks than my own, were monstrous or even bad. Even more surprisingly, not all who agreed with me, or wore masks similar to mine were good. Some who unmasked in the dark bravely moved to the light where there was no hiding what had been covered by a mask. Some who unmasked in the light quickly moved to the shadows. Hope grew. Maybe removing masks of political ideology would reveal our intentions and motivations, rather than rhetoric, allowing us to come together to discuss and truthfully examine the merits of our individual beliefs?

There were those who chose to remain in the dark to continue to hide what their masks had previously hidden. The truth of their beliefs were immediately suspect due to their unwillingness to expose them to the light of examination.

I had expected “The Great Unmasking” to reveal angels and monsters, and there were a few. What surprised me was that while the unmasking did reveal our individuality the greatest majority of us were beautiful and blemished. For most the unmasking revealed neither halos nor horns, but differences that required examination to reveal their merit, not their condemnation. That was the gift and the truth of “The Great Unmasking.”

What’s Old Is Still Old

Among the many, many things I don’t understand, is the saying, “What’s old is new again.” I’m pretty sure that what’s old, is still old. My shower curtain is old. I still like it, and it is still functional and attractive, so I see no need to replace it. I’ve been in my home for over twenty years and I brought my shower curtain to this house from my previous home. I want to go on the record (records are old, and now they’re popular again, but my old records are still old with scratches and skips) saying old is okay.

Old continues to decrease in popularity. Antiques are not as popular as they once were. Old people are neither valued, nor revered as they once were. We rarely brag that our washing machine, mattress, car or clothing are twenty-years old, or older. I admit, that while my parents had the same mattress for well over twenty years, I am happy that we now routinely change out our mattresses every seven to eight years (the whole dust-mite thing grosses me out). What I find discouraging is that even if we were unaware of dust-mite-habitat, mattresses don’t last beyond seven to eight years these days. Yes, this is going to be a “things were better in the good old days” kind-of post. Shower curtains were better in the good old days. They just don’t make shower curtains (feel free to substitute washing machines, mattresses, cars or clothing for shower curtains) like they used to.

Speaking of things not being like they used to be, let’s talk about the truth. It used to be that the truth was an either/or kind of thing. Now it seems as if the truth is whatever is being proclaimed the loudest. Truth has become quantified. The more something is posted, loudly proclaimed, widely broadcast, the more it is endowed with a moniker of truth. Many pre-retirement years ago, I worked in a school as an educational assistant for special-needs children. One of the children I worked with had Down’s Syndrome. He was delightful (and that’s the truth). Like all people, he did have good days and bad days. One of my tasks was to accompany a group of children as they were included in traditional (not limited to special-needs children) classroom settings. One day, I accompanied my group of kiddos to a history class. The student with Down’s Syndrome, in what was to become an act of prophetic behavior, would yell out following everything the teach said, “That’s not true.” In recent years, we have become more aware of history’s bias towards the victors. I’m sure that much of what the teacher said reflected societal biases and would have been an indistinguishable mixture of truths and non-truths. We don’t wait for history anymore, we just yell loudly and operate under a validated by volume bias. What does this have to do with my shower curtain? Well the truth is, very little, except that what’s old is old and what’s true is true.

New is okay, but old can be great. Commitment to quality and the pride in workmanship that traditional craftsman brought to their craft is being lost. When this happens, quality suffers. Some things may be old, but they can still be good.

At sixty-three years of age, I would have been considered quite old one hundred years ago. Now days, with the exception of my grandchildren, I’m not considered to be THAT old. It must be television. Television is convincing us that people are not old, but that washing machines, mattresses, cars and clothing are so old, they are constantly in need of replacement. It reminds me of a song that was popular with Girl Scouts: “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”

The truth is, my shower curtain is old, but I like it and I’m keeping it. I have wonderful old friends, and I grieve bitterly when one is lost. The truth is, I love my old friends. They’re gold, even if their hair is silver. I do have some new friends, who just happen to have silver hair, and I love them too. One of my old friends loved to quote Lily Tomlin’s character, Edith Anne, and so I will too. Old is still old, and that is not only okay, “that’s the truth!”

Old, but still good, shower curtain.

Fall

I love the look and feel of Fall. It’s cooler. It’s colorful. The mosquitoes are hanging in there, but I’ve changed my attitude towards mosquito bites. I still don’t like mosquitoes or other blood suckers; however, I think that mosquito bites are proof that there is a God. Mosquito bites itch, and therefore, we don’t like to be bitten by mosquitoes. If mosquito bites didn’t itch, we might not mind being bitten by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes carry illnesses. Itchy mosquito bites motivate us to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. There must be a benevolent higher power putting itchy stuff in mosquito bites which encourages us to avoid mosquito bites and the illnesses mosquitoes carry.

Uh oh, I digress. Frankly, I have digressed for so long, I no longer know what I have digressed from. Oh yes, Fall. Fall can be tough. Last year Phil went into the hospital on October 5th and did not come out alive. This year, I lost my dear friend Mela. This year, the pandemic has had a devastating impact on our way of life, lasting all the way into Fall (no state fair or Balloon Fiesta here in Albuquerque). Of course, we need to suck it up to get through it. Much like mosquito bites, discomfort usually has a positive aspect. We have to persevere to realize it.

I’m in the Fall of my life. It’s good. It’s the season of retirement. Last year retirement provided me with time to care for Phil during his final illness. This year it provided me with time to spend with my beloved friend, Mela and her family. Sheltering at home due to the pandemic, while retired, has provided me with time to think about what really matters. Here’s what I’ve come up with: what really matters is spending time with the people we love; looking for the good in people, giving to and serving others (even those we’ve never met). I miss Phil and I will miss Mela. It will hurt. I hope to use that pain as motivation to honor his and her memory. I’m going to look at the beauty of Fall and remember the beauty of my husband Phil and my friend Mela.

Proof there is a God: the beauty of the seasons; the beauty of memories; the beauty of giving and serving; the beauty of retirement, music, sunsets, sunrises, Fall; the love of family and friends; the itch of mosquito bites; and more (after all, I’m no theologian).

When you lose someone, you treasure your memories of that person. Memories keep them close. When you lose someone, you appreciate those who are still with you. Fall is an end to the growing season of Summer. It’s not THE end. We get the makings of pies, jellies and jams and stock for the pantry. Fall is both an end of the growing season and a time of harvest and plenty. Every season has its gifts.

View from my backyard of the Sandia (watermelon) mountains at sunset.

Let’s Quit Being Political and Just Be Humane

My friend has died. She was born one week before I was. We’ve been friends since our children were babies. She was a fine human being, and her absence is such a huge loss. Her absence is greater than any political loss. She was intelligent, kind, productive – truly a blessing to all she knew.

So many people flocked to spend time with her before she died, we risked exhausting her (and her family). We all wanted more of her time. She was so GRACIOUS. She would greet everyone with a smile and ask how they and their family were doing. I never once heard her complain. While visiting, we never talked about politics. There was no fake news. She was dying and she and we knew it, but we focused on living; on being together and enjoying life – the life she had left. She shared that precious time; first with her family and then with her friends.

We watched silly movies and laughed. We reminisced about funny exploits from our pasts… and laughed. Interestingly, everyone who visited had stories of funny exploits. She was good, decent, fun, and funny. Sometimes I think of people being either righteous or irreverent. She WAS right with God, and God blessed her with a, not wicked, but certainly well developed sense of humor. She was faithful AND fun!

A truly good person has died. I pray that we can put politics aside and just be humane. I want us to look beyond our selfish interests and work on being a blessing to others. I want to be like Mela. I want us all to be like Mela. What a wonderful world it would be.

Mela and Me with our babies Nicole and Jessie.

Symphony In My Head

My grandmother was an English Professor. She once told me that not a thing happened in her day that did not remind her of a poem. My mind is not full of poems, I wish it were because there are so many great ones out there. My mind is full of tunes, many of which have poetic lyrics. There are few things that happen in my day that don’t hit the “Play” button on the boombox in my mind. I will then hum along, and often dance, to the tune. This tends to frighten small children in the grocery store.

My taste in music, much like my taste in clothing, is not sophisticated. I’m a huge fan of Arlo Guthrie’s “Motorcycle Song.” This is ironic, because I would rather have a pickle than ride on a motorcicle. Strangely, as I’ve grown older, my musical taste has become less sophisticated. As a child my favorite thing to listen to was Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf.” As a pre-teen I loved Simon and Garfunkle’s “The Sound of Silence.” I would lay on the floor with my eyes closed, listening to “The Sound of Silence,” until I felt that I was evaporating and my spirit was floating with the musical notes (I was a strange child).

Sitting here thinking about it, I still love the music of my childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, and I’m pretty sure I will love much of the music I haven’t yet heard. Apparently, my musical taste, rather than becoming less sophisticated, has broadened. I loved Ken Burns’s Country Music series. I love the bluegrass music in the movie “Mountain Minor.” I love the line “Don’t worry; be happy,” in Bobby McFerrin’s song. I love Pharrell Williams’s “Happy” (especially when it accompanies a video of dancing Minions). I love the Blues, Classic Rock, Folk…

Music is particularly good in a pandemic. You can enjoy music while alone; you can enjoy music while at home. You can enjoy music on the moon; you can make music with a spoon. Music makes my spirit fly high; music makes my worries say, “bye.” I listen to music with my cat; when music’s playing I don’t give a rat (‘s ass about all the yucky things going on in the world). My grandmother would not have liked this sorry excuse for a poem, but she did like music (and me).

Music is everywhere. You don’t even have to turn off the TV to listen to music; just change the channel. June 21st was “World Music Day.” I want EVERY day to be World Music Day. You don’t have to be retired (like me) to listen to lots of music. Listen to music at work! If it’s against your workplace rules, listen to music before and after work. Pandemic-encouraged working from home should open up music-listening possibilities and opportunities. Hurray – life is good!

I really want people to be nice to each other. I think, for the most part, people are nice to each other when they’re happy, so listen to music that makes you happy, and be nice. Thank you very much!

LPs, CDs & MP3s behind those doors.

I’m Not Always…

There are many adjectives that I can use to end this sentence. I’m not always: brave, forgiving, honest, kind, reasonable, supportive, understanding. The sentence-ending-adjective that I’m most ashamed of is “kind.” I’m not always kind. Usually my lack of kindness is limited to my thoughts (yes, sometimes I think unkind thoughts – bad Jennie, bad). My lack of kindness can become verbal and involve hand gestures when I’m driving. When working, my lack of kindness usually grew from fatigue, or had its roots in my unreasonable expectations of co-workers, or my frustration with those who were unwilling to forgive me for my mistakes.

The list of words that I can end my “I’m not always” sentence with includes “forgiving.” Uh oh! That worldwide bestseller, the Bible, says we’re forgiven as we forgive. I’m in deep doo-doo. I’m certain that in my Excel spreadsheet in the sky, my “Needs Forgiving” column is much longer than my “Given Forgiveness” column. I thought I would give the Microsoft product, Excel, a little plug here just incase they could use the marketing boost. I love Excel because it does all kinds of math for the user, that I could never figure out how to do on my own. Okay, I digress (I’m pretty consistent in my habit of digression). Back to the quantified “Forgiveness” columns in my spreadsheet. Things listed in my “Needs Forgiving” column date all the way back to my childhood. My “Given Forgiveness” column would be much longer if I would lighten up and be kind.

I need to forgive Ayn Rand for her selfish-centered philosophy of Objectivism. I still think she’s wrong, but I need to quit taking it personally. So what, Ayn Rand, if my being nice is motivated by my desire to win other people’s approval. At least being nice benefits me and whomever I’m nice to. Oops, I’m sorry Ayn Rand, I don’t fully understand what led to the formulation of your philosophy (another word to add to the possible endings for the “I’m not always” sentence: empathetic).

Retirement has provided me with the time I need to evaluate my past behavior and see what a jerk I could be. To those to whom I was not kind, I ask your forgiveness (I’m sure it includes many who are not among the 20 or so people who read my blog, but for those who do, please forgive those times when I was unkind). I have imagined slights where there were none. “Letting go” of those misinterpretations lightens my forgiveness-requiring load. You may have noticed that “imaginative” is not among the possible endings for my “I’m not always” sentence. My overactive imagination has long resulted in my misinterpretation of events.

When it comes to “forgive and forget,” age has really helped with the forgetting; I’ll have to put some effort into the forgiving and eliminate most of what I thought needed my forgiveness. Retirement HAS really boosted my kindness quotient (being pulled this way and that frequently resulted in unkind behavior on my part – particularly to my family – for which I ask forgiveness). Being kind requires a certain amount of time, and retirement has given that to me. Thank you retirement! I really LOVE retirement. I really LOVE my friends and family. I really LOVE being kind. It makes me feel good and I’m kind of selfish that way. Sorry, Ayn Rand.

Average Is Okay

When I was young, I bemoaned my consistent state of “average.” I was average height, average weight, average intelligence… I have continued that trend into adulthood. I believe it is in keeping with the “Law of Averages.” There is an actual formula for the “Law of Averages” but being of average intelligence, I don’t understand it. What do the exclamation points mean? Are they emphasizing just how average average is?

Law of Averages: Definition & Formula - Video & Lesson Transcript |  Study.com

Is average just a synonym for mediocre? Why yes it is (I Googled it). From my vantage point of mediocre intelligence, I interpret the “Law of Averages” as follows: If I draw a card from the deck of 100% average cards, whatever I draw will be average. If I draw a card from the deck, where one exceptional card has replaced one of the average cards, I have a one in fifty-two chance of drawing an exceptional card. However, if I factor in my luck (I have below average luck), I can, one-by-one, draw each card and still only draw average cards (where does that factor into their binomial formula – is it the exclamation point?).

As a retiree, I think back on my working days (as infrequently as possible) and remember how “average” impacted the workplace. It frequently became a quantitative issue: are you more or less average than the person working next to you? I even suspected that some (not all) of my higher-ups surrounded themselves with mediocre employees in order to appear less mediocre. Proof of my state of mediocrity and/or averageness. I compensated by working very, very

Here’s the twist; average is okay (not great or horrible, but definitely okay). Somehow, I’ve been shuffled into a deck of INCREDIBLE friends (incredible people are very tolerant of the average – it’s part of what makes them incredible). Somehow, I gave birth to incredible children (I think this one does challenge the “Law of Averages”). I can’t say that the source of my state of average is my gene pool, because my family is full of people of incredible beauty and intelligence (my children, Zach and Jess; my siblings John and Pam; my cousins Ruth, Helen and Candy). It’s a mystery.

Average comes with certain perks. I don’t have to put on make-up, because I know that it is not going to alter my average appearance. In fact, by not attempting to make things look better, I have a great excuse for my average appearance. See, average is okay.

Let’s apply some circular logic (the logic most employed by those of average intelligence) to the “Average is Okay” theory. This year, 2020, has not been average. This year, 2020, has been a bad year; therefore, things that aren’t average are bad, so things that are average are okay. You can’t argue with that (well you can, but people of average intelligence won’t believe you).

I will continue to swim in the pool of average. It’s not too hot. It’s not too cold. It’s okay. Life is good.

Average deck of cards.

They’re Everywhere

Mosquito is a recurring theme in my life right now. I have mosquito plants, mosquito bites and mosquitoes. Mosquitoes travel the world to feast on my blood. I’m fairly sure that my blood is the crack cocaine of the mosquito world. I read that the oldest known mosquito-like creature was found in a 79-million-year-old piece of amber. I’m certain, that if I were to wear that piece of amber, the mosquito-like creature would bust out of the amber and suck my blood. Mosquitoes, HUH, what are they good for? Absolutely nothing (my personal opinion; however, not being an entomologist, I may be wrong).

Ants bite me too.

I don’t like mosquitoes. Their existence requires that I spread poison all over my exposed flesh before going outside. If I miss one millimeter of skin, a mosquito will stop by for a leisurely meal, exploiting my false confidence in my ability to repel. By the way, I have tried many non-poisonous repellent strategies. I made a salve of lemongrass and citronella essential oils and bees’ wax. Mosquitoes departed from their meals on my body with spa-like-treatment-conditioned mosquito feet. I’ve tried eating lots of garlic. My mosquitoes like a garlic-flavored host. I’ve tried drinking vinegar. My mosquitoes like Italian-dressing flavored blood. Friend Ronnie told me that mosquitoes are drawn to CO2 and that I should try limiting my carbonated drinks. Must I give up beeritas (light beer with lime with a splash of tequila and Margarita mix) to become less appealing to mosquitoes? That’s asking too much.

In an attempt to obtain only chili-relleno-sized green chilies, I visited Big Jim’s U-Pick-Em chili farm. I slid through the muddy field picking and filling my basket with what I thought were hefty-sized chilies. It turns out that there is a major chili shrinkage factor in the roasting process. It turns out that I do not have a migrant farm-worker aptitude. It turns out that chili fields are full of mosquitoes. As I waited in line to have my chili roasted (tip your roasters – it’s hard hot low-paying work), scratching, I carefully examined my fellow chili-roasting-line inhabitants. They were not scratching. Many had MUCH more exposed skin than I displayed. My small patches of exposed skin that had somehow missed out on poison spray coverage were welted and itching. I brought my now shrunken roasted chili home in a spirit of defeat. Mosquitoes had won another match.

Things I’ve learned about mosquitoes: there are over 3,500 species (all of which have bitten me); their name means “little fly”; females live longer than males, and are more into blood for dinner than are the males; if you want to avoid mosquitoes, go to Iceland (otherwise, they’re pretty much EVERYWHERE – but more so where I am); mosquitoes carry many illnesses which make people sick; mosquitoes are blood-sucking jerks.

Last week, I wrote about how we can learn a lot of good things (like forgiveness and unconditional love) from animals. This week I want us to learn from mosquitoes. Let’s not be blood-sucking jerks (I wonder if the explosion of political ads on television subconsciously inspired this week’s topic – maybe).

Mosquito-attracting Mosquito Plant.

We’re All Animals

A few days ago I watched a video of animal clips sent to me by a friend. The animals were interacting with other animals and people with such tenderness, it made me wish I were an animal. Well, I am a human animal, so I guess what I wish is that we human animals were the nice, accepting, tolerant, tender type of animal. Oh yeah, I wish we were also the reasonable type of animal (darn politics). I think Aristotle may have been premature in declaring human beings “rational beings,” living by “reasoning.” Or perhaps we have evolved leaving reason behind, like we did with tails. That’s sad (loss of reason, not loss of tails).

In the video a cat nuzzled a horse; a dog and lion gave each other a low five; a dog insisted on having his paw in a woman’s hand; another dog rocked a baby, and yet another dog gently nuzzled and watched over a baby. The video had a dog bias; not that dogs aren’t great, but I wish cats had equal screen time. Even though dogs were the stars of the video, a bird was featured in a clip of an owl allowing a child to hug and caress it.

Absent in the video was any display of fear. The animals weren’t afraid of people or other animals (even animals that were traditionally adversaries). Lack of fear set them free allowing them to interact. I do think that the parents of the little girl should have been afraid to let her get up close with the owl. It could have clawed her eyes out! But it didn’t. It was a nice cuddly owl.

Fear has no place in retirement. Fear keeps us retirees from having fun. Fear turns “I want to go on a road trip to the Grand Canyon,” into “If I go on a road trip to the Grand Canyon I’ll probably breakdown while driving there, and then fall in once I get there.” Fear turns, “I want to pet that lion,” into “I want to live, so I’m not going to pet that lion.” Fear turns “I want to hug that owl” into “I still have my eyes, because I didn’t hug that owl.” I guess fear manifesting as caution is okay. Fear can, however, stifle creativity. In the kitchen, cooking creativity is stifled by thoughts like “if I mix this with that, it will taste horrible.” Thoughts like that would have kept carrot out of cake, tequila out of light beer with lime and zucchini out of brownies (don’t let fear keep you from throwing some shredded zucchini in your brownie batter – it’s good). Fear can also keep us from interacting with other human animals that look different, or sound different, or behave differently than we do. We miss out on a lot of good times and possible friends because of fear.

As I watch a friend near death, I see how letting go of fear allows her to enjoy every moment of her life and joyfully anticipate what comes after her mortal life. As I watch a video of a dog hanging out with a lion, I think we have a lot to learn from animals.

Reason and fear (caution) lead me to suggest that you don’t hug this owl. Photo (of an owl in his backyard) courtesy of Mickey Porter.