I have always wondered, being - by nature - a highly excitable person, how old folks (i.e., folks older than me) seems to have a wonderful, serene imperturbability in the face of difficult times. I have always considered it a sort of super-power, elusive as the ability to fly.
As of these writings, my mother has cancer (and is not amused), my father has Alzheimer's disease, my aunt has been hospitalized in some form of cardiac distress, my best friend is experiencing a devastating financial crisis, my son is unhappy at school, my husband and daughter have the flu.
And the cat's sick.
Besides that, my credit card number was stolen off the Internet over the Christmas holidays, which led to my family being dropped from our dental insurance, the reinstatement of which was more complicated than getting a liquor license in Chicago. If you are at sea over how the compromising of one's credit card could possibly lead to the cancellation of one's dental insurance, then you are not (for some reason) fully participant and conversant in the ways of our ultra-efficient society and, therefore, could not possibly have found this blog except by pure accident and the wildest chance, and I am surprised that you have read this far.
To top everything off, it is February. A month whose only virtue is to be short.
As I tried to process the most recent of the events above (my aunt's cardiac incident) in my woe-ridden mind, I found myself hesitating to consider an appropriate emotional response. I reasoned that I could:
- Fling myself into a bout of hysterical weeping, which may or may not have ever come to an end;
- Hop a cab to the airport, and catch the first plane to someplace fun and/or warm;
- Say to myself, "It is what it is," followed by, "Da FUCK!"
I chose option #3. Because I realized it was the only thing to do.
Which made me understand two things:
- I have become an old folk (as shown by my not taking option #2); and
- Old folks are not particularly wise. They are just out of options.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. And actually makes me feel somewhat better about myself.
Modern life provides us with too many options, which makes us highly nervous and, therefore, generally intolerable without meds. Beginning with home-or-hospital, breast-or-bottle, baby daddy maybe-or-maybe-not a legal member of the family, our options are far more numerous now than in the past. We are presented with choices we are not necessarily equipped to make, and the chances of making bad ones are legion, haunting us with visions of a multitude of terrifying alternative futures. Indeed, the roads-not-taken are more numerous than the tracks at the Gare du Nord, and we are overwhelmed with what might have been.
As children, we no longer have to wait until "our show" is on TV. We can watch "our show" any time, actually any show at any time, which ideally should make us more discriminating in our tastes as we mature but, sadly, the evidence - as presented by Christina Aguilera's wardrobe - shows otherwise.
Young people are offered a bewildering range of academic choices, none of which seem to have a real connection with anything they need to know in life. Many of them will stumble through courses from Anthropology to Zoology, without ever remembering they were there, and end up being "Account Executives" who only read things on screens and hunger for more "apps" to help them fulfill their purpose in life.
And, when we are grown, we are offered far too many variations on the martini, making what should be one of the great pleasures of adult life a source of potential regret.
The endless number of choices at our disposal leads us to the awful realization that we could be making better ones. The anxiety generated by a decision to watch reruns of "Seinfeld" over taking a walk or doing transcendental meditation is not insignificant. The same anxiety occurs when we choose a cheeseburger over a salad, or buy a cute pair of shoes instead of Toms Vegan Classics.
We can be better, the options are there, and - without the help of being brain dead or copious amounts of vodka - cannot be ignored. We can be "better" and we should be, but we are not, and this makes us crazy. If you haven't noticed yet, there are a LOT of crazy people out there these days, in some cases whole countries full of them. And THEY are faced with a lot more options as to whom they would like to invade, not a good thing for the national gestalt.
The only solution is discipline, something humans are notorious for not having. So instead, we spend our days in a constant state of neurosis, accompanied by a nagging sense of only-occasionally-deserved self-loathing. This sorry state of affairs goes on until we get old, and our physical and mental limitations - imperceptibly, but inexorably - lead us to a point where watching reruns of "Seinfeld" is, indeed, perhaps the best we can do.
When that day comes, party at my house!