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Why Do We Die?

tantrumWhy must we die?!? Okay, I get it that living forever isn’t such a fabulous idea— but why such pitifully short lives? I mean, I’m just getting going! This morning I heard a radio program on “smart urbanization” that I found totally stimulating; I’d love to look into this and be part of creating future living situations that work. I have lots of ideas that mesh with the experts’, at least from what I heard. This happens a lot: I hear something new and interesting and feel a strong urge to get involved. But do I have time to develop a career in smart urbanization or any other field? Doubtful. Even if I live another 20 years (also doubtful, especially if I keep puffing on toxic tobacco sticks), I’d have to give up or at least cut back on writing, not to mention doing all my favorite essentials like puttering around the house, doing crossword puzzles, and watching rented movies.

Even if I didn’t want to try out some new kind of work or even play, dammit! I’m just beginning to learn how to do the one thing on which I’ve maintained a steady focus. I’m only just learning how to write halfway decent fiction, to create characters who sound and act believable, and to invent situations for them that might interest readers. My non-fiction too keeps improving, but I didn’t have quite as far to go in that department. I had, still have, an enormous amount to learn in the genre I prize above all others, i.e., novel writing, but it is happening, and at a quicker pace than when I was young and distracted. What they say about improving with age is absolutely true—but we benefit from our growing wisdom for such a brief period, I question its value. Besides which, nobody wants you when you’re old and gray, as the song goes, even in the field of literature, where the powers-that-be want youngsters they can trot out in front of the cameras. And don’t get me started on the new forms of publication and how I can promote my ebooks by branding myself. That shit makes me want to throw up.

I did not intend to go off on a personal rave about my own career or lack of same, but all roads seem to lead to regret. My intention was to rant in general against this stupid idiotic pathetic system called Life. Who created or  invented it? You people who believe in a Creator, don’t you think he or she is pathetically incompetent? Talk about lousy planning! Nothing about our brief lives makes sense. We’re born, we get a few carefree years to play and learn one or two things—that is if we’re lucky enough to have a decent set of parents who don’t beat or otherwise abuse us, and we’re not born with some illness or disability, nor into abject poverty or war; then we struggle through whatever educational system is available, again if we’re lucky; and meanwhile we’re utterly confused, trying to figure out how to navigate such minefields as romantic love, sex, friendship, and something meaningful to do with our time; we work like dogs trying to go forward but too frequently we’re like Alice and the Queen, running as fast as we can just to stay in place–and this is, again, the best case scenario. Then we start to lose things like beauty and hearing and friends, and soon we go feeble and sick—even if we’re lucky enough to have only minor ailments, they’re a pain in the ass; and then poof, it’s all over.  A real idiot, that Creator. Or evolution. Or whatever or whoever.  I gave up trying to figure that part out a long time ago. Now I just want to know: WHY? WHY DIE? AND WHY SO SOON?

 

career-path

 

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Growing Old With Rock ‘n’ Roll

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Chuck Berry

The legendary Chuck Berry is 84.

With so many rock singers closing in on or even past 70—Mick and Keith (both 68), Bob Dylan (71), Patti Smith (66) Paul McCartney (69), Joni Mitchell (69), Joan Baez (72), to name just a few—and still rockin’ in the free world, what kind of songs are we hearing from them? Remember, these guys drew upon their own life experiences for their songwriting. It’s inevitable that some of what they’re singing now is about aging, death and dying.

This getting older
Aint for cowards
This getting older
Is a lot to go through
Aint gonna need this body
much longer
Aint gonna need this body
much more.

Well I can’t see much
like I used to
and I can’t run like the windMellencmpLive
I don’t sleep more
than just a few hours
I can’t remember where I’ve been

Ain’t a gonna need this body much longer
Aint gonna need this body much more
I put in ten million hours
Washed up and worn out for sure.

Well all my friends are
sick or dying
and I’m here all by myself
All I got left
is a head full of memories
and a thought of my upcoming death…

–Don’t Need This Body, John Mellencamp (62)

I don’t know about anyone else, but to me these lyrics aren’t depressing in the least: rather, it’s reassuring to hear that others of my generation are thinking and feeling what I’m brooding about these days. Rock ‘n’ roll gave me courage starting in my pre-teen years, and it’s exhilarating to find it still does.

As always, Dylan’s leading the charge. He began back in ‘97, with “Not Dark Yet” on the Time Out of Mind album.

Shadows are falling and I’ve been here all day
It’s too hot to sleep, time is running away
Feel like my soul has turned into steel
I’ve still got the scars that the sun didn’t heal
There’s not even room enough to be anywhereTimeOutOfMindcovr
It’s not dark yet but it’s gettin’ there.

Well, my sense of humanity has gone down the drain
Behind every beautiful thing there’s been some kind of pain…

I was born here and I’ll die here against my will
I know it looks like I’m moving, but I’m standing still
Every nerve in my body is so vacant and numb
I can’t even remember what it was I came here to get away from.
Don’t even hear a murmur of a prayer
It’s not dark yet but it’s gettin’ there.

John Mellencamp (62) toured with Dylan in 2009, the same year Mellencamp released Life Death Love & Freedom, which included not only “Don’t Need This Body” (lyrics above) but several other songs on the theme.

Longest Days

Seems like once upon a time ago
I was where I was supposed to be
My vision was true and my heart was too
There was no end to what I could dream
I walked like a hero into the setting sun
Everyone called out my name
Death to me was just a mystery
I was too busy raising up Cain.

But nothing lasts forever
Your best efforts don’t always pay
Sometimes you get sick
and don’t get better
That’s when life is short
Even in its longest days.

So you pretend not to notice
that everything has changed
The way that you look
and the friends you once had
so you keep on acting the same
But deep down in your soul
you know you got no flame
and who knows then which way to goMellencamp
Life is short even in its longest days…

If I Die Sudden

If I die sudden
please don’t tell anyone
There aint nobody that needs to know
that I’m gone
Just put me in a pine box
six feet underground
Don’t be calling no minister
I don’t need one around

Well my grandma she told me
she’d be waiting at the gate
She said that the fix was in
and that she’d already prayed
and the rest of my family
will be waiting there for me too
They’d already taken care of my sins
and there’s nothing left for me to do…

Persuasions

Humor is one thing that never dies, and people always squeeze a laugh out of death when possible. (I’ve been to a few hilarious family funerals, honest!) Leave it to The Persuasions, the acapella group that’s been going strong for half a century: they’ve taken the lyrics of “Sixty-Minute Man” and changed them to announce that they “Can’t Do Sixty No More.” Somehow they still look sexy doing it (I saw them perform it at Yoshi’s).

Please excuse my blown-out fuse / because I can’t do 60 no more…

BerrymansLou & Peter Berryman are a couple of odd ducks, usually played on radio stations like KPFA and WBAI. Their song  “After Life Goes By” is a hilarious sendup of various afterlife theories.

I believe there’s nothing after life goes by
I believe it’s over when we die die die
Others may be thankful their beliefs are strong
and every night I’m praying that I’m wrong wrong wrong…

but whenever I try kneeling aiming questions at the ceiling I get answers back revealing not a clue…

 Joni painting

 

It wouldn’t be lyrical death—or life—without an uplifting message from Carly Simon. In 1990 Carly began hoping that “Life Is Eternal.” (If this sounds sarcastic, I don’t mean to be; “Life is Eternal”, particularly the instrumental and choral parts, fits squarely into the goosebump genre.

Life Is Eternal

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking
about growing older and moving on
No one wants to be told that they’re getting on
and maybe going awayCarlyalbum
for a long long stay
but just how long and who knows
and how and where will my spirit go
Will it soar like jazz on a saxophone
or evaporate in the breeze?
Won’t you tell me please

That life is eternal
and love is immortal
and death is only a horizon
Life is eternal
as we move into the light
and the horizon is nothing
save the limit of our sight…

Here on earth I’m a lost soul
ever trying to find my way back home
Maybe that’s why each new star is born
expanding heaven’s room
Eternity in bloom
and will I see you up in that heaven
in all its light will I know you there?
Will we say the words that we never dared?
If wishing makes it so
Won’t you let me know

That life is eternal
and love is immortal…

And now for something new—yes, I do occasionally listen to new music! Carsie Blanton, an up and coming singer-songwriter, proves you don’t have to be old to think deeply about death. “Carsie’s lyrics are an iron fist in the velvet glove of her voice” notes another songwriter, Peter Mulvey, and this is precisely the case in “Smoke Alarm”—which, by the way, you can hear complete on her website.

Hey baby what’s the big deal?

Feel what you wanna feel

CarsieB.W

say what you wanna say
You’re gonna die one day
For example I could kiss youjust because I want to

Makes no difference if you turn away
I’m gonna die one day.

Why do you waste your time

thinkin ‘bout a reputation
tryin’ to meet expectations
worried what they’re gonna say
when everyone you’ve ever known
is headin’ for a headstone
I don’t wanna give the end away
We’re gonna die one day…

I’ll end with the brilliant, still going strong Paul Simon (71), who got the jump on everyone way back in ’68  when he was just a pup, in Bookends, the fourth album recorded with Art Garfunkel. As Wikipedia puts it, “The songs of the first side of the album follow a unified concept, exploring a life journey from childhood to old age…The whole side marks successive stages in life, the theme serving as literal bookends to the life cycle.”

While the first side overtly depicts life’s journey into old age, on Side Two you’ll find one of the best glimpses into a particular mindset frequently found in the aging artist. It astonishes me that Paul Simon was only 23 when he wrote “A Hazy Shade of Winter”. How did he know?

 

Time,
Time,
Time, see what’s become of me
while I looked around for my possibilities.
I was so hard to please.
Look around,
leaves are brown,
and the sky is a hazy shade of winter.Paul Simon

Hear the Salvation Army band.
Down by the riverside
there’s bound to be a better ride
than what you got planned.
Carry your cup in your hand
and look around.
Leaves are brown

and the sky is a hazy shade of winter.

Hang on to your hopes my friend.
That’s an easy thing to say
but if your hopes should pass away
then simply pretend
that you can build them again.
Look around
The grass is high,Bookends fields are ripe.
It’s the springtime of my life.
Seasons change with the scenery
weaving time in a tapestry.
Won’t you stop and remember me
at any convenient time?
Funny how my memory skips
while looking over manuscripts
of unpublished rhyme
drinking my vodka and lime.
I look around,
leaves are brown
and the sky is a hazy shade of winter.

When Writing Doesn’t Happen

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scared2

It’s been more than a month since I blogged—possibly the longest silence on record since I started Dirty Laundry in October 2006. And it’s not as if I’ve been writing something else, like a novel, or ghosting a book for someone else, or even copyediting. Nope. I haven’t been writing, period. Of course, there’s a reason; as my dearly departed friend Richard used to say, “There are always reasons, never excuses.” Richard was hard on everyone, including himself, and was consequently depressed most of his life.

Actually there’s only one reason I haven’t been writing: my son Daryl was hit by a car (his second such adventure), broke his ankle, necessitating surgery, and, since he can’t walk and take care of himself, he’s been in a rehab/nursing facility since the beginning of January. I call the place the Garden Spot of Alameda. Daryl’s an adult of 47, so readers might wonder why the circumstances of his life would affect mine. The short answer—and that’s the only one I’m going into today—is that I’m used to taking care of Daryl, as he was born with a chronic medical condition (hydrocephalus)  that led to seizures, learning disabilities,  and other physical and mental challenges. His first car accident, in 2004, inflicted further brain damage, or TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). The upshot of all this is that Daryl needs a lot of support, primarily emotional.

Daryl, Immediate Post Accident

Daryl, Immediate Post Accident

When he first checked into the Garden Spot I felt so bad I visited daily, but at this point he’s used to it, so I’m only going two or three times a week. If there’s a reason beyond time that I haven’t been writing, it’s the traumatic crash course I’ve been getting on American (all?) nursing homes. Though the facility serves two populations, not just the elderly, the aged predominate. And, since everyone in this place is, I believe, governmentally subsidized, the residents tend to be, um, financially challenged (Don’t you just love my euphemisms?). The motives of the owners and managers ….well, I’m not going to go into the specifics until Daryl is home safe and sound. In the meantime, I’ll speak in generalities.

Nursing homes are notoriously hellish. After my father died, my mother began telling me not to put her into a nursing home, ever. Being a 30something brat who, like all brats, was ignorant of aging issues, I poked fun at her. Now I wish I hadn’t. This is an important, urgent issue that all families should talk about. Attention must be paid! I’m now telling my kids all the time, “Don’t you ever put me into a nursing home!” And, of course, they make fun of me.

I would not last one night in this place. To begin with, I’m claustrophobic—and they put 3 beds into not-so-big rooms. Also, I consider myself, like 25% of the population, a Highly Sensitive Person, a designation that in recent years has gained recognition. I’m certain I’d be having panic attacks in the Garden of Alameda—especially if, like Daryl, I was at the mercy of people I didn’t know, some of whom aren’t entirely wonderful, and I couldn’t get out of bed by myself. Because he has a broken ankle on the right and a fractured toe on the left, Daryl needs someone to help him get into a wheelchair. He uses plastic urination bottles and has a portable toilet next to his bed.  As stated, I don’t want to get too specific–but staff has to empty these receptacles. Would readers care to speculate how quickly they perform this task? Can you imagine the odors that fill the room when these containers aren’t dumped in a timely manner? And that’s just one of the discomforts that can drive a Highly Sensitive Person batty. Not one day. I couldn’t do one single day.

The CountFor the first month Daryl had a roommate who was, IMO, certifiably insane. The night he was transferred from the hospital to the Garden I was hanging his clothes while the nurses got him into bed, when R., the roommate, came over and began whispering to me about all the trouble Daryl was going to have getting the nurses to help him use the facilities. He was a real yenta, this guy, and I immediately took myself away, vowing to avoid him from now on. During the next few days, though, he  helped Daryl a lot, getting him water, or nudging a nurse if he needed one. He saved his newspaper crossword puzzles for me, went out of his way to be “helpful”. He also told funny stories—so I changed my mind, figuring my first impression of R. had been wrong. Eventually, however,  I discovered that my first impression was in fact one hundred percent spot on. R. was constantly in our business. He eavesdropped on us and unashamedly brought up the things he’d heard; when I was on the phone with Daryl he’d shout out conversational tidbits to me; he called me “Mom” and followed me out to the lobby whenever I left to give me his reports on Daryl’s behavior. He was driving Daryl completely crazy. The last straw came when I was trimming Daryl’s beard, and kept telling him not to talk so I wouldn’t slip with the scissors. R. walked up to the other side of the bed and hit, yes, HIT Daryl on the arm, hard, and yelled “Stop talking!” Daryl got pissed off, picked up a half full cup of coffee and threw it at the wall, and told ME to leave (Daryl takes out all his frustrations on me because I’m “safe”.)  R. had the chutzpah to follow me out to the lobby, saying “See? That’s what he does!” After that I wouldn’t let him whisper his reports to me, or inject himself into our conversations, or shout through the phone at me. He got weepy, almost crying as he begged me to engage with him, but I wouldn’t. Yes, he ‘s a lonely guy—60 years old, and he never had a single visitor—but is that my problem? Fortunately, the social worker found a permanent residence for R.—I never found out WTF he was doing there to begin with—and he left. Daryl’s attitude and behavior since R. is gone has been a hundred percent improved. No more yelling or throwing things or telling me to go home. In fact he’s the perfect patient, despite wanting desperately to go home. Which might happen next week.

red typewriterI was planning to write a lot more here, to catch up on the movies I’ve been seeing, podcasts listened to, friends old and new—as well as some of the more amusing residents of the Garden. Unfortunately, I’m already drained. This is what happens when a writer doesn’t write every day, or almost. Doris Lessing says she finds herself becoming “unbalanced” when she doesn’t write for a few days. This applies to me as well. Bad enough being unbalanced, but I bet Lessing doesn’t let her craziness show; but me, I’m talking to myself a mile a minute! Sure, most of us talk to ourselves once in awhile–but I’m a regular Chatty Cathy these days, and I’m doing it out in public. Without the outlet of the paper, or screen, words just come spilling out of my mouth. I don’t even realize I’m doing it until someone looks at me oddly on the street, and I get embarrassed. Or I’m in the supermarket, when suddenly someone swings their head towards me, thinking I’m talking to them. Unbalanced indeed! Finally, when I do try to write, I seem to undergo a certain level of fear. It’s like I get when approaching a new story, or  unfamiliar territory. It’s as if I have to wade through the shallow end of the pool before I can get to the depths. Like starting over.

DeskChaosSo here’s what I hope to do: I’m going to write a little bit every day, and post it if I think it will interest anyone. I know it will interest other writers—we all love hearing about each other’s process, especially how to work our way out of Writer’s Block.  I‘ve frequently claimed I never, or rarely, have Writer’s Block—but what else is this? It’s just that the way I’ve heard it described, Writer’s Block usually comes out of nowhere and hangs around with no rhyme or reason. My blocks, if that’s what they are, have a root cause: lack of writing, usually of necessity. When my children were little I grabbed every scrap of time I could for writing, and I learned to be ready to roll the minute time became available. For a mother, Writer’s Block is just one more unaffordable luxury. Now I can afford it. But surely there are better ways to spend my time.

Going Gray

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After giving up hair coloring more than a decade ago, the time has come for me to address the subject. Going natural, whether it means gray, silver, or bald, is fast becoming the hottest hair style for boomer gals, so if I don’t speak up now I’ll never prove I’m not just another trend follower (the faithful know how I feel about trends!). I saw signs that  gray was becoming trendy a while back, but  Silver: A State of Mind,  a new photographic collection by Vicki Topaz of women who allow their gray hair to show without shame or chemical disguise, finally pushed my must-write button.

Actually, pushed isn’t the right word: inspired is more like it. I’m not worked up to an angry froth, but blown away: visit the site and you’ll see what I mean. The heads that make me most envious are those with white or silver ponytails. White or silver, these are the colors to which I aspire. I don’t know if I’m ever going to get there, though; after all these years, I still carry a mix of shades. The problem can’t be genetic if my female forebears are any indication: My mother, gone since 2005, and my Aunt Janice, now in her late 80s, bleached for most of their lives, but when their natural color proved lighter than anything their potions could produce, they dumped the whole stinking mess–and incidentally gave me the courage to someday go gray myself.

Aunt Janice, in wheelchair; sister Linda, second to right

On the other hand, my sister Linda vows to bleach her way to the grave.

Unlike my relatives, I was never a blonde wanna-be. Neither was I happy, though, with the mousy brown bestowed on me by nature.

Brenda Starr

I was a redhead in my heart, with Brenda Starr,* girl reporter, as my role model. I started coloring at 16, went natural during the hippie years, briefly flirted with blonde later on, returned to red, tried henna, tried French ammonia-less dye, and finally, fed up with the stink, the burning scalp and rumors of cancer, went cold turkey and gray.

Unlike some of the women in the exhibit that I heard speak on NPR, I didn’t get flak from anyone except for my haircutter. She kept harassing me, and had no shame: told me I looked ten years older than necessary. I kept threatening to stop coming to her for haircuts if she didn’t stop. She didn’t. And I stopped going to her.

My mother, of course, was supportive, and assured me that someday my hair would be as white as hers. As for jobs and that sort of thing, I’m self-employed and try not to need too much from the kind of people who’d dump on me for gray hair.

I was also somewhat surprised by the meaning some people read into the decision to stop coloring one’s hair. Going gray just hasn’t been that big a deal for me. I tell people, and it’s no joke, that one of my reasons was so the kids on the bus would give me their seats; unfortunately, they still don’t.  I’m not saying I’m totally cool with aging; right now, in fact, I’m downright devastated by a sudden swelling of my ankles. I’m not proud, as some women seem to be, to have survived this long. But neither am I about to lay down and die before I’m forced to do so. It’s certainly not that I don’t think about aging: I think about it more than most of my peers. It’s just that, to me, gray hair is the least of it.

So what’s not the least of it? Um, let’s see, oh yeah! Getting closer to death, that’s a biggie. Also, I worry about awful diseases or amputated limbs or losing my mind (evidence it’s happening already!) and might have to live like that for decades. Already I hate living without cigarettes and a few other things the bod can no longer tolerate. Then there’s losing people who keep dying, from close friends to Dick Clark.  Yep, hair is the least of it.

I’ve always had what they call a “rich interior life” and these days, or years, the mind is working overtime. It’s not just worry, though: there’s a lot more, but I’m not about to empty my brains onto the screen in one fell swoop. Let’s just say it’s not easy being me. I know I’m not the only one, that it’s just not easy being human, and the older we get the harder it gets. As Bette Davis said, “Old age ain’t for sissies.”It sure ain’t, whether you’re gray, silver, blonde, or red!

* Do me–and yourself–a favor: Click on the Brenda Starr link and go read the Wikipedia page on her. I knew almost nothing about my childhood heroine; after reading all this, my worship of her has been not only validated but revitalized.

Winding Down

For most of my life, no matter what was happening in it – including sickness, death, bankruptcy and heartbreak – I almost always opened my eyes in the morning glad to be awake and excited to be alive. I could have been stuck in a job I detested, or facing the anxiety of getting my kids back from their father, or going to the hospital to see my post-operative son – yet I would open my eyes, jump out of bed, and begin my morning routine of coffee, straightening up the house, and stretching exercises (in some years even yoga). This excitement, this glad-to-be-alive feeling didn’t last all day: gradually it would fade, but by tomorrow I’d have forgotten whatever disappointments took it away, and be poised for excitement again.

Now that I no longer wake up this way, I’ve come to realize what it was about: ANYthing might happen! It’s a new day! Another batch of mail will arrive, in it an acceptance of my novel. Maybe a poem will be published (this actually did  sometimes happen). Perhaps I’ll fall in love. Or J. will show up, back from his travels. Maybe I’ll meet someone new. Even better – I’m in love and he or she is here with me. Or I can’t wait to get to my desk. Or I’m performing with my theater group tonight, or the kids are coming, or I’m going to a job I love (there were a few), or seeing M. later on…I don’t think I actually ran down a list of realities and possibilities, it was just that I knew they existed. In my 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s, even into my early 50’s, life was on the upswing. I was headed somewhere. Things could only get better.

This morning I dragged myself out of bed with no hope of anything new and wonderful happening. Two years ago, after 40+ years of daily stretches, rarely missing a single day, I stopped doing them because out of nowhere they started making me dizzy. I can barely manage to make the bed. It takes me two hours and three cups of coffee just to wake up. I tried tracing my life backwards to determine when the excitement stopped. It was within the past six years: I recall that I inwardly articulated to myself that life was no longer heading in an upwards direction. Physical energy began diminishing at the same time. Nothing wonderful is likely to occur today, tomorrow, or ever again. I’ve given up on the kind of publishing success I tried so hard and so long to achieve. Having loved and lost as many times as Elizabeth Taylor, I don’t expect – or even want – to fall in love again. Life’s cheerleaders will protest “But it can happen! You can make it happen!” Bear in mind that you can’t be published if you don’t submit anything — and I haven’t the motivation to go through that process anymore. Nor can you fall in love if you don’t go anyplace to meet potential partners — and I don’t want to do that either. When you give up your dreams, they can’t come true.

It’s supposed to be a tragedy of some magnitude to give up one’s dreams, but sometimes it’s a rational act. A lot of writers I know are flabbergasted when I tell them how long I hung on to the naïve best-seller fantasy, how old I was when I finally let myself see how the publishing business works (or worked back in the Dead Tree Era). I clung to the fantasy of love as fairy tale even after gaining an acutely raised feminist consciousness. It’s not so much that I gave up on my dreams as that I grew up.

Besides, I’m not talking only about writing and falling in love: these are just the big, obvious areas we all point to when talking about life ambitions. When I awoke excited, it wasn’t always over something major; I could’ve been looking forward to something as mundane as trying out a new soup recipe.

I don’t know if my aging peers are experiencing this kind of thing, since nobody talks much about getting older. They don’t address these issues on Facebook either. Maybe what I’m going through is unique, just more of being me: the negative, neurotic, obsessive me that we all know and tolerate.  Also, since I lived unconventionally, my daily life was fairly unpredictable, so in fact anything really could happen, and frequently did — and not always positive.

What I’m going through seems like a logical aspect of aging, not some new quirk of mine alone. It seems logical that our lives would feel and be on an upswing, until, at some point, things slow down. Maybe it’s not sad for everyone — if I’d managed to achieve half of what I wanted, it might not be. For those who do get what they’re after, I can see how slowing down would mean reaping life’s rewards.

While writing this, I suddenly remembered that two days ago I was walking along, singing to the music on my iPod, when I spotted a dollar bill on the ground. I rarely find money, and don’t recall ever finding a bill. Instead of being thrilled, though, I worried that whoever lost it might have needed it. Ten or fifteen years ago I would have interpreted the dollar as a “sign,”   a message from the universe that exciting surprises can occur at any age.

Now, remembering the girl who used to think that way, I can’t help but smile with compassion at her optimism. She didn’t know. She just didn’t know.