They say, “You live and you learn”. Of course, some would think that I am an exception to that rule. Whenever the General alludes to the fact that if I just did it her way, it would serve me well, I mostly ignore her wise counsel. After all, isn’t the ability to be confident and chart one’s own course a sign of independence and stamina?
I am seventy years old. I’m not sure I’ve ever said that out loud before. For one thing, I’m not sure it is really true. I don’t know what seventy is supposed to feel like, but I don’t feel any differently than I did last year or the year before that. I operate on the notion that: “If it doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t work.” How’s that for putting a positive spin on the reality that age and experience matter for something? I may have been around the block a time or two, but the experience has taught me to steer clear of walking on the side of the street where the barking dog has his nose pressed against the fence and wants a piece of my leg. I may be a slow learner, but I still have the ability to learn?
Abraham Lincoln began the Gettysburg Address by making reference to time and experience. You know the line. You’ve heard it before. It will forever be remembered in the resources of this great nation: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure…”
So my question for you is: “What is a score?” Obviously it is a measure of time, but what length of time? Okay, if you don’t know. A score is the equivalent of two decades. A score is equal to twenty years. President Lincoln was referencing 87 years ago – 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was signed.
Yesterday morning as I made my way to work, I opted to take a different course of action than I did the last time I had the same experience. I offer that to substantiate that I do live and learn. I have to confess that the gages on the dashboard of my car don’t mean much to me unless there is a yellow or red light associated to the gauges. Seriously, this past Monday the light associated with the need for an oil change came on in my car and I ensured that issue was addressed before I left town on Tuesday. I don’t ignore the warning lights. Yesterday morning the yellow light on my dashboard illuminated the need for fuel.
Fuel is one of those four letter words that can get you into lots of trouble if you don’t heed the warning. “Been there, done that” is my best characterization that I know what I’m talking about. If you are on the MoPac Expressway and need fuel, it is best not to ignore the yellow warning light. I say that with the experience of knowing that previously on a bitterly cold winter day, I thought I could make it to the service station on the other end of MoPac and didn’t quite get there.
There are some things you just aren’t willing to do twice. Running out of fuel (there’s that four letter word ago) is one of those things. So what did I do you ask? I checked with my personal assistant and asked Siri for the recommendation of a service station.
Obviously, the forces were with me. There was a service station 1.2 miles away. All I had to do was exit MoPac, circle under the expressway and start back in the direction I had just traveled. I then had to weave my way through a neighborhood and 3 miles later I was there. I’m not sure how the 1.2 miles became 3, but I am sure that was the experience and experience counts for something. In the process of filling the tank with fuel, I eliminated a truckload of stress associated to the humiliation and inconvenience of running out of fuel.
I express with confidence that when it comes to lots of things, “This isn’t my first rodeo.” I do live and I do learn even if I don’t always process the information in the manner the General thinks is in my best interest. She would never wait for the appearance of a yellow light to signal the need for fuel. She fills up when the gague reads half a tank. Wierd isn’t it?
I spent yesterday afternoon at the Capitol in a meeting listening to a lot of “young whippersnappers who were out to save the world”. They were expressing to me and a couple of colleagues who age-wise are also part of silver hair brigade that we are clueless to understanding the definition of a family-like setting.
One young woman said “thank you for your service” in a very patronizing way to the three of us. But even that was more appropriate and respectful than the young woman who talked incessantly about Federal Law and it’s prohibition from our taking the course of action we hoped to take with the legislative bill we were supporting.
Trust me, the experience was more stressful (or perhaps hopeless) than running on empty with the yellow light telling me I needed fuel. At some point, another man joined our group and sat in a chair in the back. I had no idea who he was, but his ability or patience to listen to the young woman talking incessantly about how there was simply a misunderstanding on our part because Federal law prohibits…was more than he could take.
With the charisma of a bull in a china closet, he stood up and with a booming voice announced: “This meeting is over. I’m not doing this. This is a bunch of …”
I think I remember what he said it was a bunch of, but I’m not quite sure. I’ll let you decide. However, by the end of the day I think his assessment skill was pretty close to accurate.
I value and am often encouraged by young whippersnappers who are out to save the world. Day before yesterday, I was one of them. But there are a lot of lessons that can be learned from experience and frankly, summarily dismissing two score and seven years worth of mine seemed more than patronizing. I was probably working child protective services cases before some of their parents were even born. I don’t need them to tell me I don’t have it right.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: “Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?”
All My Best!