Stop Chasing the Bacon
This month I turn 57. I’m getting long in the tooth, as they say. And I am happy to earn my fangs.
As often is the case, the older we get, the more we realize we don’t know, and youth is wasted on the young and all that jazz. But there are some things I know for sure, and I’d like to share them with you.
Yesterday I ordered a cobb salad for lunch. I generally stay away from bacon because it’s a food that cancer loves. But it just sounded so darned good. I realized as I ate my salad that I had eaten all of the bacon and left the rest, which is so like my personality. I don’t do very well with tedium, the less exciting, the stillness. The spinach and the egg are just so…well…you know. Bacon is just so exciting and salty. So much of life is plain old spinach. It is an itchy chore to be still, but sometimes we just have to sit our tuckus down and make peace with the mundane. It can’t all be bacon all the time, baby.
Happiness. I learned sometime after my divorce that it’s not anyone’s job to make me happy, not a partner, not my kids, not even my dog, although all she wants to do is make me happy. I chalk that up to my age at the time. But I now know that I am 100 percent responsible for my happiness. If I find myself in a funk, I take myself on a walk, or put on some music, or meet a friend. If I am not liking the way my life is going, I change it up.
Entitlement: I am not entitled to health, education, peace of mind, or wealth just because I am a white girl, or because I am breathing, or because I happened to be a homo sapien on the planet. If I want any of those things, I need to choose them, to honor them, and take care of them when I get them. I need to plan and put things into place. I had a scholarship to art school in college, I chose to explore New York City instead of going to my classes. Needless to say, I didn’t get my degree. My choice. I didn’t value it and I wasted it.
Bad things happen to good people every day. Fantastic and talented people take their lives and are hit by buses and get diseases, and beautiful, innocent children are caught in the crossfire of all kinds of evil. Not to be Debbie Downer but if you are walking this earth and living and breathing, it’s not because you deserve it, it’s because you are lucky. We should all take a moment, take many moments to thank our lucky stars that we are able to do that, able to partake in the sheer miracle of taking in a breath. Be grateful. And then be grateful again.
People: Remember that people will surprise you, for better or worse. You don’t truly know anyone, except yourself. You might think you know a person inside and out; your siblings, your parents, even your children. It’s impossible to really know what is in someone’s heart of hearts. So, make sure your relationship with yourself is impeccable, and your part of your relationships with other people is clean and clear. Be authentic and a person of your word, to others and to yourself, because that might be the only person you end up with at the end of the line.
Friends and Lovers: I’ve learned it’s okay to be alone. It really is. It’s important to be social, really important. Get out there, say hello, buy a newspaper, order a coffee, go on a hike, go walk dogs at the local shelter, visit a friend. But if you’re on your own, it’s okay. If you’ve just gotten out of a relationship, you’ll be lonely for a while. But learning to be on your own is an important lesson for a human being.
Cultivating and tending to a friendship takes more than sending emoji’s. Make a phone, schedule a lunch, let your people know that you love them. Our social life is important, and I’m not talking Facebook. Life is short. Really short. Not everyone gets a whole one or a long one. People we love all have an expiration date. Be present every day. Don’t walk around with a puss on. Don’t look like you are sucking lemons. Mom was right, your face will get stuck like that. Smile at people. Connect.
Journal daily. It’s so important. Honest. The very best therapy. Like brushing your teeth, it’s mandatory.
That’s all I got.
Picture Credit: Candy Balmer.
My sister and I keeping it real at our parents memorial.