Some good things about AARP

As a retired Old Fart, I now have the time to do a lot of reading, including AARP The Magazine, from cover to cover.  I found an article in the December 2014/January 2015 issue that I thought would do for Old Fart Friday.  It was written by Anne LaMott, whose writing is summarized in Wikipedia as self-deprecating humor and openness and covering such subjects as alcoholism, single-motherhood, depression, and Christianity.

I am not an alcoholic, single mother or Christian, but enjoyed parts of her article inaptly titled “Have a Little Faith” but aptly subtitled “How getting older deepened my belief in goodness … and in myself” which I have excerpted below. Although I do believe in goodness, I’m not sure that getting older has deepened my belief in it.  I agree with Ms Lamott, however, that getting older has deepened my belief in myself.

I was hanging out at the library with two old friends (who know that) sometimes the safety-deposit drawers at the memory bank get jammed. Our backs ache, and nothing has become higher, or firmer, in the past few decades (and) we laughed until the cranky young librarian glared at us.  Getting older has given me more comfort in not knowing the answers. I throw up my hands more often now; I shake my head in wonder at how inscrutable life is. I have finally figured out that “Figure it out” is not a great slogan. My new slogan is “Who knows?”— which leads quite easily to “Who cares?

My vision has blessedly blurred. This is a great advantage when you’re trying to live more spiritually, more expansively, more like Zorba the Greek and less like the Church Lady. For instance, when I sit on my bed now writing on my iPad, the top roll of tummy sometimes creeps over onto the screen and starts typing away. In the old days, upon noticing this unsought collaboration, I would have decided to start a new diet, or to end it all. Now I think, “Who knows? Maybe it’s got something interesting to add.”

I thought when I was younger that faith was about the confidence to say the great Yes to my own deepest desires, and that is true, as far as it goes. But a deepening faith has also shown me that it’s OK to say No. Plus, it has shown me that the word “No” is a complete sentence. This realization led to the single most important life lesson of all: No one over age 55 ever needs to help anyone move again if they don’t want to. Our job now is to help younger movers, with their strong backs and SUVs, by bringing over sandwiches and Cokes. Period.

I have grown better at recognizing when I’m the one in need of forgiveness. Most surprisingly, though, I have finally learned to forgive myself for most of my disappointing character traits and iffier decisions.

Laughter leads to more loving feelings. And as we age, we laugh at ourselves more sweetly. Yesterday, for instance, my left eye suddenly began to hurt for no reason. I instantly assumed I had inherited my mother’s glaucoma, or ocular shingles, and that it most certainly would lead to a glass eye and a guide dog. And this was all in the 40 seconds before my eye just as suddenly stopped hurting. I sighed. Then I patted myself gently, as I would a friend, and said, “There, there,” and went to make myself a cup of tea.

Commit to a Writing Practice Part A – 3 important songs?

I have no idea how the description and title of this prompt is even remotely related to writing about the three most important songs in my life and what they mean to me. So I am going to split this into a two part post with relevant tags on each.

The prompt told me to try free writing and gave a bunch of advice intended to let all my fabulous ideas and wonderful words just flow on to the page. Unfortunately, my self-evident truths will not allow me to accept any of this advice because it all runs counter to who I am and how I write. Here’s each point of advice and how I feel about it.

• Keep your hand moving. (Don’t pause to reread the line you’ve just written. That’s stalling and trying to get control of what you’re saying.) No, that’s trying to make sure that what I’ve said might make some sense to the reader.
• Don’t cross out. (That is editing as you write. Even if you write something you didn’t mean to write, leave it.) If I don’t edit as I write, the post will get too long and convoluted. I wouldn’t want to read a post that was too complicated or too boring.
• Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar. (Don’t even care about staying within the margins and lines on the page.) I draft in Word which does this all for me.
• Lose control. I have, but more around the number of posts I want to write, not what goes in each post.
• Don’t think. Don’t get logical. I’m a German Taurus so I have to do both under the laws of the universe.
• Go for the jugular. (If something comes up in your writing that is scary or naked, dive right into it. It probably has lots of energy.) Gotcha! I’m good with this one. Anonymity helps.

The prompt goes on to say “Just let go” and ends with this quote from Jorge Luis Borges, an Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator

“Writing is nothing more than a guided dream.”

Borges’ first published book included a series of non-fictional essays and short stories, using fictional techniques to tell essentially true stories. Borges also wrote poetry, essays, screenplays, literary criticism, and edited numerous anthologies. His poems embrace the same wide range of interests as his fiction, along with issues that emerge in his critical works and translations, and from more personal musings.

My self-evident truth about the relation of Borges’ advice to my writing is that, since it’s more appropriate for fiction writers and I write non-fiction, it’s not related at all! The philosophical term “Borgesian conundrum” is named after him and has been defined as the ontological question of “whether the writer writes the story, or it writes him.” I can get behind that thought in some of the non-fiction stories I write. Thanks, JLB.