From the Google Earth photo, we all appear as passive little ants on the planet. But something’s wrong with this picture. I protest the thought of being a passive rider on our earth as it orbits around the sun. “Rider” implies observer, passenger, or bystander. I’m more than an ant tourist observing what passes by out the window- I’m actively driving the bus, doing things like raising kids, creating jobs, and struggling to involved myself. I care for, love and help others, sometimes at a cost of heart break. Simply exist? No, I’m a metaphysical force that stands for something, that makes the place better than it was when I arrived. Could mean something life changing, or just getting a smile on someone’s face.
Today the kids are gone, the businesses sold and hiring employees is a thing of the past. Today I write stuff that’s supposed to be inspiring and provoke laughter. “Joking” you might say is silly and frivolous. How can humor be big? When talking about Google Earth or spending a year orbiting the sun, that’s heavy stuff. You say it’s inconsequential to talk about jokes.
But that’s not accurate. Humor allow for more truth than is otherwise possible. When Dolly Parton was asked “What do you think when people call you a dumb blond?” Dolly’s quick reply was an explosion of truth: “I’m OK with it. I know I’m not dumb and I’m certain I’m not blond.” Not exactly profound, but funny and true.
Last week came with a humorous truth moment. I dropped off some old stuff at the Thrift Shop, joked with the white haired ladies and handed in the old shoes and jackets. “Ms. White Hair” suggested I must be very wealthy with a hoyty- toyty name like Barclay. “Barclay sounds like a large bank.” she suggested.
“What’s going on here?” I replied with mock insult. “I come in here as Mr. Good Guy to make a donation and you’re giving me the poke with a needle about my name! You are trying to pull my chain, aren’t you?”
She knew I was flirting with her and responded in kind.
Her still more elderly boss heard the commotion and came in to ask what was going on between us: “With all that noise and giggling I assumed you two must have some kind of a thing going between you.”
“Oh yes!”, I exaggerated, “She and I, …the two of us go way back.” More giggles.
Women in their 80’s doing volunteer work don’t often get to relive their youth or go back to the days of flirtation and their senior prom. But with a few minutes of joking, it was like Ms. White Hair was getting into her new prom dress.
Maybe the exchange wasn’t as big a moment for her as I thought. Even so, I enjoyed the banter so much that I was back ready for my prom tux.
I enjoy going back to my youth, but what I’m most concerned about today is preservation of youthful spirit. Over a lifetime, I’ve given up so much; tennis, skiing, being the center of gravity to my kids, and a career. Now I’m looking for lively activities that are appropriate at any age and that can continue long into the future.
Writing, humor, being a force (Even if nobody notices) are ageless pursuits. More important, they are lifelong activities that makes us more than passive ants on Goggle Earth.