The picture below was sent to me by a friend. It was taken in an airport lounge, and I found the translation of the soup name into English both charming and hysterical at the same time.
I adore words. And I revel in seeing the tiny nuances that change the sentence as it morphs directly from one language to another. And I don’t think I’m alone. (Which is also why I think Jimmy Fallon’s comedic game, “Google Translate Songs” is a hit.)
But anyway, that picture reminded me of something I hadn’t pondered in a while. As I’ve aged, my sense of humor has changed.
I think I’ve always enjoyed being a wordsmith, even when I was little. I LOVED Mad Libs. I remember playing it with my sister, and both of us howling with laughter because one of us wrote “toilet” as a noun to complete a Mad Libs sentence.
Yes, unfortunately, toilet.
Thankfully (for the sake of my friends and family and husband) I moved out of the bathroom humor stage. And while each stage has been delightful at the time, I look back with no regrets and think, “Wow, I’m glad I’m older and moved out of that phase.” However, while I wouldn’t go back in time, I think most would agree, a good laugh feels…well, good. At all ages.
The longer I live, the more opportunities I have to find answers to my problems. Plain and simple (I warned in an earlier post that sometimes I will focus on the plain and simple.) It’s part of the joys of aging and can be incredibly satisfying.
I’ve hesitated to blog about this, but I think I will, in order to be honest and hopefully encourage. I’ve struggled with anxiety for years. And it hasn’t been easy. The intensity ebbs and flows, but I have not yet gained the upper hand.
But I’m starting to.
And it’s because new books are being published on anxiety. I’ve always been an avid reader, but I can only read what is available to me. With each year, new and better research is being published, and I have finally got my hands on a book where I just got it. Something inside my brain clicked. As a result of the writer’s clear and simple language, I understood for the first time what was happening within me physically during a panic attack; and then I read about powerful techniques to help me conquer it.
The next four panic attacks, although not easy, were shorter and I felt more in control. Something I haven’t felt in fifteen years.
Is it a known fact, that new and powerful books are available every year? Of course. Do I take the time to be thankful for them? Not until recently, which is the very reason I wanted to write this blog entry and bring to mind something small (in the grand scheme of things) that I love about aging.
There is something satisfying in the following scenario:
I’m puttering around, listening a singer sing an unknown song to me:
I wish that today
you would just….
(And then my eager mind guesses, “Stay?”)
Ahhh. Victory. Bonus points if the singer belts the word out right at a crescendo, which is especially satisfying.
Here is something odd I celebrate about aging: I relish listening to a song I’ve never heard, speculating ahead to the words the singer is going to sing….and being right.
Certain words just go well together – especially added to music. And clichés are clichés for a reason. With each passing year, I hear again and again the same words that inspire people in song. The melodies change, but the lyrics don’t have to – at least not too much.
I find enjoyment in the little things in life, I know. But on the other hand, it’s equally satisfying to hear a song that catches me off guard. Maybe the lyrics surprise me. Perhaps they don’t rhyme, or they do, but in an awkward way that just works. Originality seems so much more delightfully original. BUT those “old” lyrical phrases that I hear again and again - give me a feeling of comfort (like donning a well-loved pair of jeans) that solid lyrics can be resurrected and enjoyed year after year.
As I age, I’ve noticed how fun it is to learn from those younger than me.
I have a little friend Ann, who is five years old, and she speaks her mind. She hasn’t learned she can place a filter between her very active brain and her vocal chords, which, frankly, makes her a lot of fun. I know her Mama (my good friend) would disagree, but since I’m not around her 24 hours a day, I still find it charming.
So, back to the other day: I was out with Ann and her Mama, and we were going down a flight of stairs. To be fair, the steps were awkward, but from Ann’s perspective, they were treacherous. They were big, black, and they had a crooked turn. Even more than that, they were slightly hideous with tiny green footprint decals on them. I think the footprints were to add a “fun” element for children, but honestly, they were reminiscent of low budge science fiction television set.
I watched Ann timidly and dramatically take a step at a time, then at the turn (no doubt little heart pounding), I could hear her chanting to herself, “You can do it, Ann. You can do it, Ann. You can do it, Ann.”
I struggle with encouraging myself and I tend to be pessimistic, but my tiny friend had latched on to something good: the art of speaking to herself, put most importantly, speaking positively. Which leads me to ask myself, if Ann (who has been on this earth only five years) can do it, why can’t I?
It’s lessons like these that I really treasure. I think because most of my growing up, I was programmed to learn from those older than me. And while it’s still very much applicable, I love that in a world of contradictions, we can learn from the other end of the spectrum: the inexperienced, the “beginners” – and we can receive a fresh perspective that helps us all as we journey through life.
It can be as simple as knowing the curve of my chin, and therefore where to twist a bun that is most flattering: I love that as I get older, I know myself better.
When I was younger, I was more often than not testing my limits. Can I focus with a headache? Can I wear bright pink lipstick? Can I stay calm in an argument? Can I eat sugar on an empty stomach?
A friend reminded me the other day in a text message: “knowledge is power.” Too often I think of this statement regarding only learning the world around me. But of course, it also includes knowledge of something much closer: myself. By knowing myself, I feel more empowered to do life and to do it successfully.
For example, when I wake up late for work, I know how to apply makeup in less than five minutes. I know how to make a quick, nutritious breakfast that I can eat in the kitchen or take with me. I know which medicine (out of hundreds on the market) will soothe my throbbing head, and I can quickly put that in my purse along with a makeshift lunch that I know I will look forward to, despite my hurried morning.
It may not seem like much, yet it’s powerful: By better knowing myself, I have the authority to not only conquer a rough morning, but even greater challenges that would have caused havoc in my life years ago.
Now, meet the glory of getting older and what the years have given me as a gift: time for trial and error. It’s constant trial and error from day one (which makes childhood horrible and wonderful and every emotion in between), but with each year, I’m grateful that they become less and less. In an ironic way, knowing my limits is freeing, by giving me the power to make choices for myself that will help me age gracefully – something beneficial for both myself and everyone else who is aging along beside me.
Creator of Love, Auntie.