On the Occasion of My 50th Birthday, I Offer This . . .

I will be turning 50 in less than two weeks.

Now, normally, this is when I would run my annual
“Aging Gracefully . . . or Gratefully” post—a perennial favorite among the well-read (in my own mind.)

But this year, I’ve decided it is time to share some of the things I know to be true and other things I’ve found to be just plain
hooey.

I love
adages. I love words, grand, lofty thoughts, pithy comments from famous and infamous people. I collect quotes; own numerous books of quotes and who said what tomes—I am fascinated by the clever turn of a phrase.

Some “clevernalities”—as I call them—are true—some are patent falsehoods. This is what I have learned after half a century of living:

a) Silence is golden. No, silence is yellow. Silence is cowardly. Silence betrays a shallow heart, devoid of feeling—a fear a retribution. Speak up! Raise your voice in praise to God. Shout from the rooftops when you’re in love. Loudly decry the injustice in prejudice and bigotry. Shout your protest when an animal is mistreated, a child is abused or neglected, another human is bullied, betrayed, battered, or beaten into subservience.

b) The best things in life are free. No, freedom demands hard work, constant diligence, and sacrifice.

c) People are basically good. I wish this was true. I have lived five decades believing in the innate goodness of “man.” I have been proven wrong time and time again. As much as I hate to “pen” this, I must—the majority of people I have known in my life will lie, cheat, and steal to get what they want. Some of them will brag about it—wear their ability to dupe the general public like a badge of honor. There is a possibility of goodness within all of us—we are made in the image of God, the Author of all that is good. But, people are basically lazy, and it is far easier to lie, cheat, and steal then it is to be good. The world tells us good is boring—bad is sexy, bad is cool, bad is better. Mae West voiced the opinion of the world best: “When I’m good, I’m very, very good, but when I’m bad, I’m better.” Sorry, Mae darling, it is a funny line, but it is certainly not a life lesson.

d) Beauty is only skin deep. Oh my no. Although I have seen and experienced a lifetime of ugliness, there are some absolutely and divinely beautiful men and women who are lovely to the depths of their souls. Here’s the short list: my father, Harold; my mother, Beverlee; Ken; my brothers, Steve and Thomas; my sisters, Kim and Barb; my daughters, Sarah, Amanda, and Samantha; my grandmother, “Nana”; my friends, past and present—Daniel Silver, Mary Alice O’Connor, Elise Shelton, Rita Lester, Helen Spicer, Rick and Amy Hassebrock, Brad and Tara Bolsinger, Rita Bennett, Elizabeth Nason, Peggy Hildebrand, Molly Pelon, Kitty Morrell—I love you all.

e) Love is blind. Oh no. “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails . . .” (I Corinthians 13: 4-8, NIV). Love has its eyes wide open and will rush into action, blind only to the consequences to itself—the lover—thinking only of the beloved.

f) Honesty is the best policy. Unequivocally, yes. Certainly it is easier to lie than to tell the truth. It is easier to waffle, to hem and haw, to conceal—oh vastly! But herein lies the rub: dishonesty reveals one’s contempt for the person from whom one is withholding the truth—“They won’t understand”; “It will hurt their feelings”; “I am being kind”; “I am protecting them”; “You can’t handle the truth!” But tell me, which is better: to tell the truth, to face the consequences, to help that person handle that truth, or, to be found out in a lie, to be branded a liar? When, then, should you be believed?

g) Laughter is the best medicine.
Yeah, that one is definitely true. Laughter increases blood flow to your skin, lending you that healthy glow. Laughter raises your serotonin level—that hormone that gives you a sense of well-being. Laughter brings people closer and draws people toward you. A baby’s laugh is priceless and puts a smile on the face of even the most hard-hearted. A child’s laughter is a delight and a treasure and should be cultivated and preserved.

h) No man is an island. Granted, some “men” ought to be restrained on an island, alone, sans contact with anyone living. But what we do or do not do in our own life has an effect on everyone around us. It is the basis of the
“butterfly effect” and the “one-hundredth monkey effect” theories. Look it up, people. Which brings me to this last truth . . .

i) Knowledge is power. Yes! Gone are the days when the dimwitted girl is considered the desirable and most feminine woman. Thank heaven for that. Knowledge increases your ability to function physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally. The more you know, the better equipped you are to cope, to grow, to be an asset to someone else. Do not dumb yourself down. Do not dumb-down your writing, your speech, your thoughts, or your actions. Force those around you to think, to investigate, to probe, to question, to analyze, to debate. Make them powerful.

Fifty years of wisdom condensed into less than a thousand words. I am looking forward, not to growing older—ick—but to growing smarter, to laughing loudly, to loving longer and stronger, to not going gentle into that good night . . .

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas

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Published in: on December 11, 2008 at 1:58 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Dear Hollee,Oh my, how absolutely wonderful. I can’t stop reading this over and over. What a superb gift you have. Never ever stop writing….you reach into peoples’ hearts and give them joy, peace and love (especially me). I am grateful to God that He brought us together again, my long-lost friend!!Love, as always,Mary Alice(Happy Birthday!! You will, in two weeks time, join the ranks of us 50ish women….WELCOME!! You’re in for an exciting ride!!!!!!!!)

  2. yeah right on sister! woohoo!Em


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