When I was recently visiting London (before the quarantine) I got a chance to lay eyes on a really neat sculpture in Hyde Park. You can see it in the picture above.
The giant horse head was so unique to me – not because I’ve not seen a horse. I’ve seen many. It was that my perspective had changed. The horse head was huge, and I was small. I was like a tiny mouse in comparison.
It was eye-catching, and I was definitely THAT person, snapping away trying to capture in JUST one nice image the statue itself, and the feeling it gave. Because to me, encountering the statue reminded me of being a child.
While young, so much of life is intimidating. It would stand before me, like that horse head, almost too large to take in. Just as I saw the details of the gaping nostrils on the statue, I saw adults and how they acted and behaved, and I couldn’t grasp it very well. It was…well… to my young naïve eye, uncomfortable at times. Strange.
BUT, looking at a horse head as a human, not as a mouse, is absolutely less intimidating, and I can take in its features much easier. I can see the details for what they are. A nose just isn’t as threatening. It blends well with the entire structure, and as we all know, the result is beautiful.
And just like that, in the middle of bustling London, I got one of those encouraging “I should remember this moment” moment. Adulting, and really aging in general, is all about a shift in perspective. And like the statue, it too is beautiful.
In a world that seems to want to glorify “young”, why are we so eager to talk about someone’s next step or phase in life? Ironic, right?
I think it’s a rare person who enjoys and celebrates the here and now. I believe as a whole, society is getting better, but we aren’t where we should be.
When people are dating, we often ask them, “Do you think he/she is "The One"? "Will this possibly lead to marriage?” When couples are engaged, we press for the wedding date. Once married, we want to know about the possibility of children. Do you see what I mean?
I have a feeling it varies culture to culture, but I think it’s probably a similar cycle of questions worldwide. And of course, the questions vary depending on age. When I was in my late teens, the typical questions were about college and careers and the direction I wanted to head. I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone ask a teen, “What’s your favorite thing about high school?” I hope people are asking, and I’m just not in ear shot.
“Present questions” is what I’m calling them. I’m resolving this year to ask more of them: to inquire about my friends and family’s current lives. Questions that help them enjoy and consider the world around them as it presently is beyond their mobile phone screens.
Are questions about the future good? Well of course. We need to be thinking about what is to come. But I think it’s equally important our questions help someone live in the present. To intentionally focus on what’s positive in their life right now, even when "now" is difficult. To intentionally look for and then to stop and smell those figurative roses that we are always talking about. And lastly, I strongly think it’s important to realize how something small, like the daily questions we ask, can make that difference we so earnestly desire to make.
Don’t you love remembering funny stories that have happened around you?
Back before cell phones, my family was traveling with my grandparents, and we had a sort of caravan trail going with walkie-talkies in the cars. I remember passing an RV park, and my sister and grandpa were trying to converse about it on the radios. It was comical. My grandpa started the conversation by saying, “That’s the RV park we stayed at.”
My sister: Was it nice?
Grandpa: Yes, that’s the RV park we stayed at.
My sister: No, Grandpa. Was it NICE?
Grandpa: Yes, it was at NIGHT.
My sister: NICE, Grandpa, NICE?
Grandma (loudly at Grandpa): Was it NICE, grandpa, NICE??? Turn your hearing aid up!
I think we were all laughing at that moment, even my grandpa.
I don’t think they realized that they were teaching me a valuable lesson. My family often showed me how important it is to laugh at many of the frustrations that come with adulting and getting older. It has helped me to not be so hard on myself when I mess up, and not become so pessimistic and angry. My body is far from perfect (even my own hearing at age 38 certainly isn’t) but really, whose is? And no matter the age, our bodies are still not going to be perfect.
“Laughter is the best medicine” is not just an empty phrase! We really need to let ourselves live it more.
That’s not to say we should laugh our life and our problems away. (Some days, we just can't laugh). And of course, we should consult the appropriate professionals when we need help. But I think we should also give ourselves permission to see the humor and set that example for others that we can still crack a smile, even when are bodies aren’t perfect. I think we will find that it lightens the atmosphere around us AND within us.
When I lived in Turkey, I lived in an apartment complex with very high security. We had to register our vehicle plates with management so we could then pass through the electronic screening at building entrances without any problems.
As you know, technology did not work perfectly (gasp), so there were times when an annoyed guard would come and initially try to wave us away. He’d walk up to our car with the typical “you don’t live here, you need to go to the guest entrance” expression across his face.
Did I bawl my eyes out, mourn the loss of my home, or question the very being of my existence? Of course not. Because I knew the guard would discover our plate was registered, and we would eventually pass on through. If anything, I was a little indignant (especially if it was dinner time.) I knew who I was and where I lived. I knew that the guard's assessment of me was wrong.
I once heard a speaker say that the reason we struggle with critical words from others is because deep down, we worry the person is right. And this was an “ah-ha!” moment for me.
When someone unfairly labels me, like the security guard labeling me as a trespasser, I’ve noticed it doesn’t bother me. Because I know they are just plain wrong. And frankly, I find their judgments not worth my time or energy because I know the truth will emerge.
I find that anxiety, and even anger, comes when people accuse me of something like not being present, being too moody, or not holding up my end of the friendship. Why? I’m discombobulated because, well, deep down, I worry they might be correct.
So now, when someone calls me out about something, and I find myself really flustered, I find peace in doing some self-examination (without the critical person present) to see if indeed there is some truth to what was said. I’m happy to report that taking a more humble approach (could they be right?) actually soothes my anxiety. BUT, at the same time, I don’t let their words automatically have power.
Instead, I work hard to stay calm. Then I determine the power of their words by seeing if they even apply to me. Only then I decide what changes should be made (if any) and how they should be made.
Creator of Love, Auntie.