Under Construction


We are all ‘works in progress.’  Or should be.

work in progressPeople are not meant to be static entities. It’s human nature to constantly grow and change, to take in new ideas and incorporate them into a whirling dervish of a world. We watch nature’s cycles, the patterns of waxing and waning, and STILL we want our own dealings with other actual people to remain constant. Our highest praise to an old friend is that they haven’t changed.

And yet, everyone responds to a continuum of change in different ways. We may begin every one of our interactions with other humans with the best of intentions and the highest of hopes, but not being attuned to each others progress through life can only end in stagnation or regret.

One day, the world is our oyster … the next, it all seems very challenging. Sometimes we love everyone; sometimes the people in our closest circles are growing and changing in ways that no longer meet our needs, or match our core values. To be human is to recognize and respect not just our own need to evolve, but the evolution of each other.

dolly parton quoteI will never understand how some couples can hold strong, solid, passionate political leanings that are in complete opposition to their partner’s. I can admire those couples, but I just can’t imagine that they can be truly mentally intimate. Having to compromise in a relationship is to be expected, but having to suppress words and feelings to avoid pressing a partner’s hot buttons would wear me down to a nub.  Eventually, conversation would become so controlled that you’d be down to hoping that ‘pass the butter’ didn’t unleash a torrent of fury. We are drawn to the politics that mesh with our core beliefs, and that reflect our attitudes on every interaction we have with the world and each other. ‘Politics’ is just another way of defining who we are, and of displaying our team colours to those we have yet to know.

Camus quoteWe can try to alter ourselves to meet the wishes and expectations of others, but that way lies madness. The controller inevitably becomes the controllee, a slave to enforcing a status quo that’s no longer applicable, or even much fun, to either party.

Which is not to say that all of life has to be fun, or perfect, even though that is what we all think we want. A life without obstacles might seem desirable, but stumbling blocks are what strengthens our essence, and makes meaning of our existence. A month of intense heat makes us long for the chill of winter snows. Intense sadness, leavened by moments of great joy, allow us to appreciate the highs, the lows, and the calms in between.

When we try to halt that progress, try to capture a moment in time and make it our only reality, we are doomed to tainting that wonder. You can’t pin a butterfly to a board and expect it to retain its colours and movement … even if you try just to hold it for a time, you’ll likely damage it. Admire the beauty of its flight; a butterfly must be free to enjoy its brief dance in the sun.

“Stuff your eyes with wonder,” he said, “live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal. And if there were, it would be related to the great sloth which hangs upside down in a tree all day every day, sleeping its life away. To hell with that,” he said, “shake the tree and knock the great sloth down on his ass.”  ― Ray Bradbury     

walk away from drama meme.jpgThroughout our lives, we will enter into relationships with many people. Some will last for as little as a conversation, others, for decades. All of our experiences, all of our past encounters, combine with who we are when we present ourselves, and how the other person presents to us, and will determine how loosely or tightly we connect in that first meeting.  The longevity will depend on mutual respect, not just for what we think we want, but for who we become in the process.

I often think that life is a dance. The choreography depends on our own internal music, and the steps we’ve invented with our needs and wants. The tempo changes with our reality and perceptions – sometimes life is a tango, other times a waltz.

If you are very lucky, your life may be a Pogo, formed of joy and enthusiasm and the sheer giddiness of really feeling alive and in the moment. And the beauty of joy is that it is always available .. you only have to choose to see it and seek it. No one can give it to you – you have to reach out and take it. From cradle to grave, joy is always just a grasp away.

The dance can be frenetic, like riding in bumper cars, crashing head to head or bouncing off of each other, all great fun in the moment. Some see the dance as a long game, like chess, and carefully plan each move far in advance. The trouble with planning those moves is that we can never assume what the other dancer might do.  All is subject to change. They are dancing their own pas de deux.

Life’s dance can be a solo turn or a chorus line; pas de deuxa Balanchine ballet, a polka or a frenetic Frug. The dancers weave in and out, entering our line of vision, participating in the exercise, enriching or detracting from the show. We can ask the other dancers to accompany us in our dance, and it is a lovely thing when we dance together in perfect harmony.

What we mustn’t do, however, is hobble the other dancers. Each one’s dance is their own, and subject to change. Each of us has a time to lead and a time when we must follow. Every dance has its own beauty and dignity. Every dance and every life is a work in progress.

 

 

(first published July 2016 – bobsegarini.wordpress.com/2016/07/31/roxanne-tellier-under-construction/)

 

The Last Taboo


The latest round of celebrity deaths has shaken Baby Boomers to the core. Even if they hadn’t thought of the artist, or listened to their music in decades, the sudden realisation that another part of our youth is irretrievably gone, resonates. deaths 2016

It’s not the physical body of the artist themselves we’re mourning, though. It’s how the music made us feel, what it was like to be young and dumb and possessed of hopes and dreams and aspirations, along with a strong and energetic body that could propel us to our heart’s desires. The music spoke to us and for us; it knew what we were going through, and how that made us feel. That’s what dies when a beloved artist passes … the feeling of being known and understood, and the belief that anything is possible.

old age not for sissiesIf those we grew up admiring are dying, can we be far behind? Does this mean we’re … old? No man, we’re not old, we’re vintage. Classic. Retro. Seasoned.

“Old.” There’s your last taboo, the last epithet used to put you in the corner with the other discarded toys. After a lifetime of experience, the shaming of the circumstance of age is meant to strip you of dignity.

We did it ourselves, back in the day. “Don’t trust anyone over 30!” “Hope I die before I get old!” “Better to burn out than to fade away!” oh yeah. That kid stuff felt good to roar. The oldies had the money and power, but we had what really mattered – sex, drugs, frenetic energy and amps that went to eleven.

is there life after youthOur disdain for those we saw as stodgy was justified. Politicians were rigid and pedantic. Businesses were run by old, white, men in suits. Boomers’ parents had lived through a depression that depleted them physically, and often emotionally. Many had been in service in WWII or Korea – they’d lost a lot of youth’s gloss by the time they procreated. And for so many of our parental units, the prevailing mores of the time, the sharp division between what males and females were allowed to do, prohibited them from just plain having fun, once they had kids. Grownups weren’t supposed to be silly, after all.

Sadly, many of those parents also didn’t make it to their golden years. A lot of really good dads (and moms) got that gold watch at 65 from the job they’d had since they were kids, and didn’t make it to 66. Their worlds, long circumscribed by the 9 to 5 workday, and how decent people supposedly lived, left them worn out and unable to handle retirement.

Still others, now in their 80’s, 90’s and older, are hanging in, but with failing physical and mental health. Many of us belong to the ‘sandwich generation,’ with kids still trying to find themselves, while we try to help our elderly parents. That’s a tough gig.

mature woman judi denchI had a few rollicking debates this week with people just as committed to their opinions as I am to mine, and – predictably – those who couldn’t actually back up their opinions with facts were quick to anger. The insults flew fast and thick … I was a libtard, a fascist, ignorant, naïve. And then, that insult that they thought would be the killing blow … I was just too old to understand.

The trouble with having that ‘weapon’ in your arsenal is that I don’t consider my age to be an impediment. In fact, it’s an enormous asset in understanding the world. When I was in grade school, we actually had to learn, memorize, and study to get to the next grade. There was no pushing along of those who failed to achieve – I knew one guy who stayed in grade 9 for the entire length of my stay in high school! For four long years, he ruled grade 9. He just couldn’t graduate from it.

And spitting “old” at me as though it were a curse doesn’t work for the same reason that I’m not frightened of being told that I’m going to hell when I die. I don’t believe in hell or religion, and haven’t since I was 21. I see age rather like I see religion: some bow down to it and obey its rules. Me, I ignore and abhor the concept of living my life by rules put into place by those who are interpreting the stories that they heard from a friend of a friend who knew this guy… You can keep it. I live by one rule; Do unto others as you would have them do to you. That about covers it.

when I was your ageThe idea of aging, as we know it now, is so far out of whack with reality that I find it laughable. I know 80 year olds that could run intellectual rings around much younger, eminent scholars. I also know 35 year olds so enmeshed in living by society’s strictures, that they look and act like crones, bent down with the weight of the world. Baby – life’s what you make it.

I wish to hell that the white and grey peppering my black hair looked as distinguished as those men in the media who’ve aged so very gracefully that they’ve blossomed into sex symbols in their 60’s, but apparently that is not to be. I refuse to let nature take over, so I’ll keep colouring it and wearing it long as long as I can get away with it. I will never, ever, EVER succumb to the current septuagenarian style of severely short back and sides for both men and women, not for fear of looking ‘old,’ but for fear of appearing like just another clone in an asexual crowd.

aging sophia lorenSo, spit your invectives, call me “old,” as though that will shut me up or close me down. You’ll find you’re wasting your time. Aging is now, more than ever, perspective. It’s a gift, denied to many. It’s only a curse to those who feel they’ve put in their time and would like to go, now, please. For those who’ve cultivated a good attitude, solid friendships, a sense of wonder, and a trust in today’s youth, it’s a world where we finally have time to slow down and see without blinders, a world full of endless possibilities, a world we can watch unfold without being expected to take responsibility for what happens next.

Albert_Einstein_age-quoteOlder people know that how you look doesn’t matter as much as how much you make others laugh. We see through shallow people, and gravitate to those who enrich our lives through kindred spirits. We dress for comfort, not fashion. We know there’ll always be another Saturday night, so missing a party is no big deal. We don’t have to be up on every musical or artistic flash in the pan … if they’re that good, and we’re both still around, we’ll hear about them eventually. We can say “no,” without worrying if it bothers others, and without explanation.

Aging a curse? Au contraire, mon frère … without all of society’s rules bogging me down and harshing my mellow, getting older looks far more like a blessing. Something tells me I’m gonna love my second childhood even more than my first.

12 steps to self care

 

(first published Jan 31/16 – bobsegarini.wordpress.com/2016/01/31/roxanne-tellier-the-last-taboo/)

When Love Takes You By Surprise


I have a friend who’s been bit by the love bug. He wasn’t looking. Meeting her was unexpected, … a bolt out of the blue that could not have come as more of a surprise to him.

“It whapped me upside the head,” he told me.

pepe_le_pew_fanartAnd just like that, my friend, who’s closer to 60 than 16, is suddenly feeling like a giddy teenager; smiling instead of scowling, laughing instead of cynically noting human frailties, floating on air like a lovesick Pepe Le Pew.

It’s a gift, a jolt to the system, to fall head over heels with someone after years of emotional stasis. Maybe you’ve been coasting along, disillusioned with the dating games, uninterested in revving up your heart for yet another brief relationship, disappointed in your past romantic choices, and sadly but pragmatically resigned to living single.

Then you meet him, or her. And no matter how young or old you are, you suddenly understand why McCartney couldn’t have enough of “Silly Love Songs,” and why Van Morrison wrote “Crazy Love.” Obviously, he wrote it for you and your love.

“It feels so right. There’s no awkwardness. It’s like it’s always been,” he says. My friend’s been around; he’s led an interesting life. He has a plethora of friends and interests, and commitments that keep him busy. And yet, new love has come into his life. And he’s reveling in it.

When two people ‘click,’ something odd happens. Love takes you by surprise; you can’t help but smile, partly because you feel so good, and partly because you’re laughing at yourself. You forget to eat, it’s hard to concentrate on your work, and everything you see or hear reminds you of them. You work their name into every conversation – casually, you think – but those who know your secret, if they are romantics, can’t help but smile at how smitten you are.

kids in loveEven when your heart is steeled against intrusion, and you’ve resisted the very thought of losing your independence and cool, you find yourself falling down that rabbit hole again, and it feels just like the first time. You’re awash in endorphins, you can’t know enough about how your darling thinks or feels, you want to know everything about them. Even having perspective on the situation, even fearing the loss of control, and the possibility that it might not end well, can’t deter you. You just love the way you feel being in love.

You want them to love you as hard as you do them. You want to be ‘a better person,’ to not make the same mistakes you did before. But meanwhile, you’re short of breath when you see their phone number light up on your cell, and you’re counting the seconds until you can see them again. Mistakes will be made, but you’ll chalk each one up to knowing how not to make that mistake again.

mixtapeThe tritest love songs take on deeper meaning – maybe you even try your hand at capturing the magic in poetry. You’re leaving them little love post-it notes, and there’s a skip in your step. You finally decide on ‘your song,’ which almost seems to describe the two of you. And you are no longer criticizing other people’s public displays of affection, because you’re now the most public displayer of them all!

Falling in love again, after years of not having someone near who comforts your soul, quiets your fears, and makes everyone else in the room invisible, is just as powerful, if not more so, than the first time. Hopefully, you are not two broken people trying to fill up the gaps in each other’s lives, Hopefully it’s about two whole people, older and wiser, coming together to make one new, solid and wonderful entity.

It takes courage to let go of certainties, to allow yourself to fall into those waiting arms without being afraid your heart will be dropped. But if you’re lucky enough to meet someone who makes you feel that giddiness, that light-headedness that finds you cycling between tears and laughter, you’ve found that sweet spot that turns even the most hardened cynic or reprobate into a dreamer of what might be. And nothing can make you let it go.

You truly have never felt like this before, yet it feels like it’s always been meant to be. You assume that your love must be obvious, that everyone can tell that you are taken, under a spell, connected by an invisible silver cord that pulls you across a crowded room, or a city, or across a continent. whatevers good for your soulIt doesn’t matter where they are, as long as you know they’re in your world.

Love slips in to even the most hardened heart; it whispers in your ear, and tickles your neck with it’s scented breath. It reaches into your chest and holds your beating heart in it’s clutch. Love is the prize in the Crackerjack box of life, the open door that leads to new adventures, the promise of Spring. And the greatest gift a person can receive.

Just speaking their name gives you a thrill. If asked, you could rhyme off a litany of your beloved’s virtues, of what gives them their beauty, and you could tell them how just being near your love makes you feel sheltered and secure. Sometimes you don’t even wait to be asked … you have to tell the world how wonderful they are.

middleaged loveLove. At any age. It brings the strong to their knees and breaks down the emotional barriers so many of us defend. Love is all encompassing, and yet indefinable, a combination of smells and sights and sounds, of the power of touch and the joy of two people coming together.

My friend found an unexpected gift, a chance to once more fall madly in love. He and she, long past a time when they expected this to occur, held their hands and hearts out to each other, and took a leap of faith. I wish them all the love in the world.

(first published @ bobsegarini.wordpress.com/2015/10/04/roxanne-tellier-when-love-takes-you-by-surprise)