Do Not Tell Your Age

-even to yourself. Drop age from your thinking. The excellent researcher Mario Martinez  deeply impressed me with insight gained from studying centenarians, in Cuba, in Okinawa, elsewhere. Centenarians are people who are at least 100. He spoke of their total disinterest in numbers. The Okinawa’s had friendship established at birth. They ate together, small quantities of fish, seaweed and rice served in a single bowl. They practiced restraint. They enjoyed the pleasure of sharing, thin, up and about, laughing.

The Cuban centenarians live a full life, pretty much doing what they’ve always done. One man rode into the video image on his bike and was greeted with excitement by relatives with whom he sat down at an outside table to share a meal.  All centenarians are appreciated for the wisdom of their experience which makes aging appreciated by all. Martinez asked a 102 years old man for an interview to which he happily agreed but not on Saturday when he had a voice lesson. None of the centenarians knew what middle age was and said that they would know it when they died. Living life to its fullest, losses are mourned and then they return to life. A ridiculously happy group.

What is the reason for not announcing your age to those who are “interested” in it which likely means equally controlled and demeaned by  their age. They want to share their shame by competing with you over your number. They can lord it over you for being a year or two younger. The competition implies acceptance of this negative standard. It is all about accepting the “loss” of possibilities and of value due to aging. Can you imagine taking this on as your life philosophy. Or course, we need to note that Madison Avenue, the world of salespeople constantly nagging us about not looking old by buying their product. You see mostly women who have had so many face lifts that they almost cannot smile. What is more beautiful, a wide and eye wrinkling smile or a wrinkleless face that cannot smile.

But worse then the immobilized appearance is abandoning your spirit to a number. You cannot get into a low slung car. Blame your age for being stiff. Never mind taking yoga. You erroneously take problems as appropriately reflecting your age. Someone said in my elevator two days ago, to a woman who was clearly overweight, that her physical problems, were a natural state of aging. I said, “That is a terrible thing to say. Do you really believe it?” He looked at me incredulously. It was what he believed and what many of us have been taught to believe. Nothing else is possible but serious decay.

Do not answer the request “How old are you?’ so that they can  put you in an age box which you will incredibly believe. The real issue is not their belief. It is yours. Once you accept that getting old is all about giving up which reflects our anti-aging society,  we begin to live this way.

Centenarians do not retire. They may move onto new things which challenge them. There is no rule that you must always do the same thing. What have you not done before that you want to do now? If you want to teach, what stops you from setting up shop or from going to school to get a teaching degree? What part of your mind is saying, “You cannot”? What part of your childhood is putting a block in the way of your taking a new, (possibly difficult)  emotional and experiential road?

it is a job to remove acquired road blocks. It  is like becoming the child you were again to explore and try things out. Unless your parents blocked this way, your child was free to do things poorly or well, and then to do them again or to move onto something new.

Never mind the  “You’re too old for this – too old for walking, riding a horse, hiking  a trail, writing a poem, learning a language, going back to school, sex. Too old for love. For love??? Who says? Who’s listening? I’m on my own way now.

A Dog Is God Joking (Good Humored, Of Course)

Do you notice how dogs stretch your sense of humor, doing something wrong they know full well but enjoy enflaming your passions with few consequences.  I remember Effie, my beloved German Shepherd doing what she always did which got me to shriek at her while remaining stricken in place lest I cause a great disaster. Wow, that really got her off.

I had a huge fake Chinese Wedgewood blue and white vase painted with a mill scene. It was placed close to the living room wall but not against it. This very graceful but big dog which rarely missed her step would walk behind the vase instead of walking past it, clearly and totally unnecessary to get where she wanted to go – let’s face it behind the vase was where she wanted to go and with a purpose.

The vase shook on its base, a little back and forth like a shiver, not falling not standing, that indeterminate phase which causes an immediate heart to stand still in the watcher. Oh no. Can’t stop her, can’t catch it, can only watch. I scream “fuck you” to the dog which seems to grin my way and I mean grin. You know when your dog is smiling.

Then the vase settles in its place and the dog has already marched on. You curse your dog with a smile and even laugh, ”Ha ha ha.”You did it again you rascal. Your dog looks very innocent but you are not fooled. A dog who practically speaks English cannot learn that she is not to walk behind the vase. Nobody’s fool, that dog.

Do you love the dog better or worse for doing it? What a question. Come on, admit it. You love it better. The dog does not have the subservience to the one it loves as you had with your parents. The dog knows I love her but dislikes the part of me which identified with those bullies. It frequently and readily puts us in our disempowered place.

Part of me identifies with the dog. If a dog can do it, so can I. Thanks to Effie my canine alter ego.

What Kind of Family Has the Healthiest Children

Hunter-gatherers have the most emotionally healthy kids. The family does everything together. The kids see how Dad puts together an igloo shaped home from scratch, branches, leaves, and twigs; see Mom gathering and preparing edibles including roots and, berries, fruit and nuts and seeds. The boys get a blow gun and go with Dad to hunt, practice with their blow gun all the time. It is part of being family. The hunter-gatherers leave a very light some say non-existent foot print on their environment. They are part of the living world around them, not above it looking down.

They do not turn its plants and animals, its store of minerals, into commodities, “things” to be harvested and eventually used up. They are not into acquiring wealth. They do not store and save. Meeting basic needs is quite enough. If one place is low on water, if their wildlife numbers are running low, this family will not exhaust them. They will move on, ever grateful for the care that Mother Earth gives them, the mother of us all.

In the evening after eating they sit in their igloo of made of leaf and twig and sing. Their voices are very beautiful as they sing together although sometimes one takes a solo. The baby, who is barely walking sings along. These are songs of joy, of celebration.

Their children are not on the internet or sprawled insensibly in front of a TV which gives them image, sound and action so that their brains can go to sleep. They have their parents within reach so there is no fear of being abandoned or forgotten. When they need direction, the parents are there to give it. The parents are behavioral models who answer questions. There is no empty internal space which happens to a child that lacks loving guidance. Hunter-gatherer children are not forced out of desperation to turn to each other for resources they as children, cannot provide.

Modern children focus attention on FaceBook as do their parents, on I-phones on which they are constantly text-ing. Directly talking on a phone is no longer fashionable. When out on a date, the parties keep looking at their internet devices as if they are not together. In a life filled with externally programmed imagery, they are essentially unrelated. The frantic compulsive to turn it on is a sign of tuning out.

Needing loving adults as models, helpers, educators, as purveyor of love, there are only other children. They have to hold onto one another instead of to caring adults. The internal sense of connection established by adult love, is empty. The empty-feeling child turns to mechanical instruments to deaden feelings; to the TV for endless hours; to texting friends who are empty too. He gets into antisocial behavior to vent the rage he feels over the emptiness of his world.

It Makes Me Laugh Because It Sets Me Free

I hear about a certain health practitioner’s greed which leads him to exaggerate and imagine his abilities in a way that you would have to call lying. He imagines you have a great disease on your big toe which he needs to treat and of course he over charges. Suddenly I am chuckling, walking around full of smiles. I ask myself, “What’s up” When you ask yourself real questions there’s bound to be an answer.

And here it is. Knowing about this person sets me free from believing his self-serving presentations and from seeing him altogether since I don’t want to do a dance of expensive servitude to his insincere presentation of care.

You always need to investigate another person’s seeming care for you when it takes dollars out of your pocket; also when it puts them in a starring position and you tossed somewhere in the pack. True love does not impoverish the one who “receives it,” not in any way. True love makes the both of you feel richer since it is a meeting of souls where nothing is lost and everything is gained.

True love is associated with smiles, laughter, loving, shared tears and commiseration. True love is between equals in the deepest sense of the word. It is between bonded parties, between parents and children and friends and pets. True love is always the same and always different. True love seems to take you over except that you willingly and happily give in to it.