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Reflections December 2013

The Old Gal

I Don’t Want to Swim with the Fishes (Or the Sharks)!

By Anne Ashley

Now, don’t get me wrong, Ms. Nyad is to be celebrated for finally achieving her dream. Lord knows she gave it enough tries! But this is just the sort of thing that gives the rest of us ordinary, everyday, run-of-the-mill old gals a bad rap.

As I sit typing, attempting to complete yet another overdue writing assignment, I’m distracted by the news – well, what passes for the news these days, anyway.

The fanfare surrounding 64-year-old Diana Nyad and her impressive, if not somewhat peculiar, achievement of swimming from Florida to Cuba (or Cuba to Florida, I forget which direction she originated from), has me perplexed. I try to feel inspired by my peer. I'm sure there’s a message here if I just …. stare. I continue to stare … intently. I’m still staring and listening to the hoopla, willing the motivation to well up inside me to follow her lead, to emulate her drive and determination. I'm still staring …

Nope. Nothing. Not even a spark of envy. Or awe, for that matter!

Now, don’t get me wrong, Ms. Nyad is to be celebrated for finally achieving her dream. Lord knows she gave it enough tries! But this is just the sort of thing that gives the rest of us ordinary, everyday, run-of-the-mill old gals a bad rap.

It’s not that I don’t want to do anything. It’s more that I don’t need to make headlines to feel that my time here on earth has been well spent.

I love quiet, peaceful pastimes like listening to music and reading. I enjoy a good movie and eating out. Although, just a funny aside here, I have rather turned dining out into a contact sport. Evidentially, expecting wait staff to actually wait on me and not merely stand over my table with the chip on their shoulder hampering their ability to take down my choices accurately causes unrest! I've lost count of the altercations I've been involved in when I'm served exactly the opposite of what I ordered. It happens so often now that my poor long-suffering husband hardly raises an eyebrow anymore when the dispute over what I've asked for versus what is set down in front of me becomes a near physical, name-calling brawl.

However, he has imposed a few ground rules.

  1. I'm not allowed to talk about the issue on the way home in the car. Period.
  2. I'm not allowed to bring up the event to wait staff the next time we frequent the offending establishment – lest I remind them of a forgotten incident and they mistakenly spit in his food during preparation instead of mine.
  3. I'm not allowed to order the same thing the next time we frequent the offending establishment.

I've resisted pointing out to him that (b) and (c) are somewhat moot points given that there are a few places I’m no longer allowed to “frequent!”

Anyway, where was I … Oh yes! Achievements. Humble achievements.

It’s not that I’ve become a curmudgeon in my old age – I’ve always been this way. Nor is it that I lack the drive and determination to impress the younger generations with my stamina now that I'm older. My stamina has never been particularly impressive. Had someone approached me in my robust and healthy 20s to swim the ocean from shore to shore or asked me to join them on a bladder-jarring marathon or scale Mount Everest on a dare, I would have declined without a shred of shame. 

But at this age? Just shopping for the paraphernalia for those activities would have worn me out.

No, I'm happy for Ms Nyad and her ilk – their need to achieve great things is commendable.
However, I'm just as entitled to my pursuit of stillness and calm now. Just, you know, in fewer and fewer restaurants these days.

 

Exploring the burdens and benefits of being me …

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