You would think — wouldn’t you? — that I’ve managed to learn one thing a year in my lifetime. As my 60th birthday approaches, I’m working on a list:
1) People have been complaining about the younger generation and how different it is from its predecessors since the beginning of time. By and large, I don’t agree. Take away the Iphones and the texting and other eye-catching changes — and you see they’re still living out the same stories of love and ambition and regret and uncertainty as we did. And our parents …
2) I regret having ever voted for Joe Lieberman for anything, including the vice-presidency. What a disloyal, despicable creep. On the other hand, I couldn’t have voted for Dick Cheney, for God’s sake.
3) Just because badly out-of-shape men can take their shirts off in Central Park doesn’t mean they should.
4) I am wondering whether some of the zealots who badgered me about for supporting Obama, instead of Hillary (“Well, I guess you don’t really care about having a woman president the way I do,” one of them said huffily during a downward dog) are going to be supporting Sarah Palin now. Or don’t they care about having a woman president?
5) Sixty is not the new 40. In fact, it’s not even the new 50.
6) I’m fortunate to have very few regrets in my life. I do regret not slowing down to enjoy my children more when they were younger, though.
7) Paul was always the most talented Beatle.
8) There’s a peacefulness and contentment to getting older that I never anticipated. You never believe you can be happy when you’re not young till you get there. I mean, here.
9) I refuse to lie about my age — and wipe out the experiences I’ve had and the times I’ve lived in. In fact, the older I get, the more I hate lying.
10) I can’t think of anything sadder than a woman who doesn’t trust other women and doesn’t have good women friends.
11) Does Sarah Palin have good women friends? Somehow, I doubt it.
12) I don’t know what inane yogi first thought of the comment, “If you fall during a pose, it’s not a big deal.” Well, it IS a big deal, you asshole.
13) I’ve always thought 9/11 and a cancer diagnosis were very similar. You think they mark a “before” and “after.” You think you’re forever changed. You think irony is dead. The truth is, if you survive the ordeal, you will find yourself depressingly as you once were after the months and years pass. But at least irony isn’t dead.
14) Sixty isn’t so bad, as long as you’re able to ignore the fact you’re halfway between 40 and 80.
15) I do think I’m much wiser than I used to be. I’m just not as fast.
16) Whoever said, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” probably didn’t stay married long.
17) The truth is, love means having to constantly say you’re sorry. Got that?
18) The chair position in yoga is painful and challenging. Just try to remember it will come in handy some day when you visit Third World bathrooms.
19) Never, ever begin a sentence with, “Now, don’t take this personally, but … ”
20) Cover your mouth when you yawn.
21) The older you get, the fewer frenemies you will have. Somehow, toxic people lose their appeal and their hold on you.
22) At some point in life, you begin to realize that the biggest talkers produce the smallest amount of results.
23) There are no rules for writing. If something works for you, keep on doing it till it doesn’t work. Then come up with a new rule.
24) Good can come out of heartbreak — as long as it opens your heart to other people’s troubles.
25) The minute you’re diagnosed with cancer, people start telling you how “brave” you are. This is sweet, but rather naive. It’s not like you have a choice or anything.
26) On the other hand, some of your truly bravest moments — like dealing with depression — will pass unnoticed. Nobody but you will have an inkling of how much courage it takes to get through those long, dark nights of the soul.
27) Anybody who thinks progress is bad never worked as a secretary in the old days of erasers and carbon paper.
28) Will somebody explain to me why Ayn Rand appeals to anybody above the age of 21 who isn’t non compos mentis?
29) At very low points in my life, friends have made a difference simply by being there and letting me know they cared. I’ll never forget this — and try to remind myself that simple gestures can make a world of difference. I want to be that kind of friend.
30) If you’re going to complain, you should try to make it funny. Otherwise, you’ll lose your audience.
To be continued tomorrow …
(Copyright 2009 by Ruth Pennebaker, age 59.999999)
Read one of my favorite posts about what our holiday lights say about us