Saturday, June 25, 2011

Nothin's happnin - except everything

I was never able to convince my mother that she had enough going on in her life to merit talking about it.  She thought she had nothing going on.  What was there worth commenting on?  This from an intelligent woman who had had two wonderful kids, supported them during a time when a single woman was considered more or less invisible and of little consequence.  This from a sharp mind behind good eyes kept running by a good but stern heart.  Maybe a little like Olive Kitteridge, the woman created by Elizabeth Strout.

When teaching adults, I usually find a few members of the class willing to speak out.  Generally, the older the people, the more contributors in a group.  However, there seems to be a divide between those willing to speak out and those willing to write out.  Maybe it is spelling: what a horror is I should spell a worb inkorrectly!!  But I think it is mostly a matter of what Stanford Prof. Carol  Dweck calls a state of mind, a mindset.  I suspect many people carry a conviction like my mom's that they are by definition uninteresting people living uninteresting lives.  

To me and to many infants in the world today, anyone who can see a salt shaker, reach for it and successfully grasp it, lift it, move into position over some food, add an appropriate amount of salt and replace the shaker is a marvel of engineering and ability.  I think most of my friends wouldn't have the gall to describe that particular achievement in a greeting card to other friends, even though they could and they are imaginative enough to do so with valuable and humorous insight and diction.

But remember, friends, we have the gifts of language, wisdom, experience and email!  In 300 years, you and I will not have such gifts.  I urge you to make use of them now.  Right now!  Find a pen and any old piece of paper: write a note to your pastor about how much that last sermon still enriches your thinking.  Send a message to your accountant or internist about how much their skills mean to you.  Tell her you forgive her for tagging along on that crucial date, those many years ago.  That sort of action costs very little and is worth untold dollars.

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