I have been retired for four years, one month, two weeks, and three days. And I am still trying to discover who I am or what I can be outside of who I was in the workplace. It's shocking to me how much of my "self" was defined and reinforced by what I did during those forty years.
In 1949, when I was seven years old, Kathy Fiscus fell down a well in San Marino, California. Stan Chambers was right there in my living room, on our brand-new TV, telling us about the tragedy, with pictures. The response of the community was swift, but Kathy didn't survive the fall and the lack of oxygen. She died at the age of three, small enough to fall through a hole in the world. You remember things like that when you not only hear about them but can see them as well. So the new technology brought tragedy closer to us, and we all shared some of the pain.
There is a saying that we all create our own reality every day. I can't help wondering then why we are so obsessed with the reality "shows" we seem to love.
I confess that I have not seen more than a few snips of "people shouting at each other, people falling over, people ruining other people's houses" -- well, I do admit I have watched more than a few snips of people ruining other people's houses. And the quote is from an episode of AS TIME GOES BY, when the characters are trying to find an evening's entertainment.
If there are threads that connect us, we have to understand which of them have the strength to endure. Otherwise, we will not be certain that the fabric of our lives can hold. But how can we test these strings of connection? So many are ephemoral. But those just might be the strongest if tested.
Wisps of conversation, whispers of encouragement, a flower full of scent yet the petals falling -- offerings of comfort, offerings of hope -- these matter. These are real.
We have seen many wonderful performances at the Hollywood Bowl, so it is hard to pick just one that is the best, or the first one that sticks in the top of my mind. The first time we took our kids, ages 8 and 10, we sat in the very last row ($1.00 seats back then), and saw Victor Borge way down on the stage. We didn't have binoculars, but because the sound was so good we didn't miss a thing. Our son was transfixed, our daughter enraptured, and they both have been fans of both Borge and the Bowl, ever since. That was back in the 1980's.
The phrase make believe has become especially intriguing to me now that I have three grandchildren. The power of it is absolutely astonishing and compelling. The grandchildren are ages 5, 4, and 2. And they all can do this make believe stuff really well.
What they do not seem to need is artifacts from somebody else's make believe, entrepreneurial and costly as it may be. Disney -- step aside. Barbie -- step aside.
I have been hauling and storing boxes, bags, and trunks of other people's things for the last four years. The collection started long before, actually, but in the last few years there have been so many important family changes that the stuff in my life has exploded out of any reasonable proportion. I have made several attempts to manage this unwieldy and oppressive baggage. Sometimes I actually do take old clothes, old dishes, old toasters to the folks at the Good Will because they will take almost anything.
THIRTY SIX YEARS, one month and 15 days ago we
moved into our starter house.
We had a plastic couch, a double bed, a maple tree,
a lemon tree, a lime tree,
three elms, three apricot trees,
a broken rabbit hutch,
a half-finished stable,
and a dog.
Two weeks after we moved in, we started a baby.
In the fall our son was born.
In December one of my grandmothers died.
She used to make the dog dance to get the butter on her fingers.