Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Selfish Reflects on Turning 70

"I want you to sit down and dictate to me your reflections on turning 70" Bossy told Selfish while riding on the bus. 

She picked the bus to tell him this because she knew what his reaction would be.

"Oh" Selfish whined.  "I don't want to!  Do I have to?  When?  Now?"  Selfish said all this in a much quieter voice than he would have if not on the bus. "I've got nothing wise to say" he went on.  "Nothing grand or philosophical."

"Well, say that" Bossy told him.  "It's your reflections.  Do you know that more than half the people born on this planet don't make it to 70?"  Bossy paused to let that sink in.  "I don't mean we have to do it right this minute.  I'm telling you now so you can think about it for a couple of days."

Heartened by the reprieve, Selfish settled down and Bossy lay in wait for the right moment.

A few days later Selfish was ready.

"K" he said, "I don't really feel very much different than when I was in my 40's.  The body slows down a bit but my mind, once mature, remains alert with a considered approach to life."

Bossy breaks in, "That's not true!  You're a much better man now than when you were in your 40's!"

"Well that would be mostly because I am less distracted by holding down a job and having vague money worries.  So I suppose that I now have the freedom to be more centered."  Selfish paused.  "When you turn 70 it's another one of those landmark birthdays and you do tend to pause and reflect on your journey so far and the realization that the journey ahead it shorter."

Bossy broke in again with a high whiny voice, "You're being too serious about it.  You're not usually that way."

"But I thought that's what you were after." Selfish answered.  "I thought you wanted some pearls of wisdom or philosophical ruminations.  Basically, when I think about it I have forgiven myself for past mistakes and have resolved to move forward being the best that I can....and I'm very grateful that you are here to help me."

Bossy shrugged and smiled.

"You bring me back to earth, when I have a tendency towards pomposity but frankly I'm having the best time of my life.  How's that?"

"I love you too" Bossy told Selfish.

As it turned out, Bossy was a little disappointed in Selfish's reflections.  She'd hoped for something funnier, or more profound or even simply a bit more of what he did say but it was not to be. 

A few days later, while walking Princess by herself (Selfish was at the Doctor), Bossy decided to add an addendum to Selfish's reflections:

"The thing is..." she told Selfish when we got home from the Doctor "...that when I was a kid, I looked at grown-ups and thought they knew everything, or at least could do anything they wanted, or at least had earned respect simply for being a grown-up.  I didn't really lose that childish notion until I was 30 or so and had 2 kids and a tough job & obligations & no time to think & found that I wasn't getting any respect because "hey" everybody else I knew was in the same situation."

Bossy paused and took a breath.  Selfish nodded for her to continue. 

"Then the kids turn into teenagers and the job gets even tougher and that goes on for several years and you trudge through the whole thing and voila!"  Bossy threw her hands up into the air.  "The kids grow-up, you finally get to retire and you think every-thing's going to be wonderful but it ends up that people are still people and they think the weirdest thoughts & you get mixed up in the darndest things and your body breaks down and...."  Bossy runs out of steam and looks beseechingly at Selfish and then finishes.   "...and then they're fighting in (fill in the blank)!"  Bossy threw herself into Selfish's arms & they hugged.  "When do you get to be respected & wise & safe?" she asked.

Selfish laughed.  "I love you too" he said indulgently.