The Life in My Years

An anthology of life

“The important thing to you is not how many years in your life, but how much life in your years!” ~ Edward J. Stieglitz

Years in life, life in years.  I had a discussion about that sort of thing just a few days ago – with myself.  It was a three A.M. meditation forced on me by a bout of early morning wakefulness.  At the time it was about as welcome as those occasions when my daughter strong arms me into a lecture about one of my usual domestic improprieties.  She hangs on like the proverbial pit bull and if I try to wriggle away she clamps down harder and shakes me around a little for good measure.  I’m not sure, but I think Cora occasionally uses our daughter as the household hired gun.  I’m not complaining mind you – much. She’s doing it out of love and concern for the old man.

I asked myself, “Where do you see yourself in ten years?” That it’s one of the dumbass questions that seems to be a required element of every job interview was bad enough. That it entered my head at three in the morning and persisted just compounded the offense.  It was another of those far too early vigils when I wake up and can’t find sleep again.

Sometimes it’s an earworm, one of those annoying songs that squirms through your head, something creepy and vile like oh, Macarena, but that’s not a hard and fast earworm rule.  Recently it’s been Gaga’s Bad Romance of all things,
“I want your ugly, I want your disease
I want your everything as long as it’s free
I want your love, love, love, love
I want your love”
As earworms go it’s not all that bad unless it’s crawling through the gray matter before sunrise.  But on this one particular morning there was no Gaga, no ugly, no disease and certainly no love, love, love.  Just that dead horse flogged by HR flunkies the world over.  “Where do you see yourself in ten years?”

Flat on your back in the predawn it’s as if the malevolent spirit that conjures these sleep repellants is wielding a rubber hose.  What can you do at that hour, flat on your back except yield to the inquisition.  That “where do you see yourself” question was as unavoidable as it’s ever been when pitched to me while seated at a long shiny conference room table staring with faked earnestness at a prospective employer.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe my annoyance comes from the consistent struggle that I have when faced with the question.  Like the batter who can hit a fastball but hacks futilely at a nasty curveball, I struggle with this question every time that it’s served up.  It’s the question that I’ve always rehearsed and to this day don’t know if one of my wild hacks ever actually connected.

“Where do you see yourself in ten years?”

“Uh, ten years? From now? Personally? Professionally?”

“Where-do-you-see-your-self?”

“Is that a serious question? Really”

“Where do you see yourself in ten years?”

Seems to me that “I don’t really know,” would be the best answer.  We certainly can’t know for certain so there’s a smidge of honesty there.  Beats “Am I applying to be a buyer or a soothsayer?” or “Are these ridiculous questions in some H.R. procedure manual?” or the rarely attempted but always fatal, “Having an affair with your wife?”  I’ve swallowed those kinds of answers so many times that I can still taste them; a savory rising gorge with the slight bitter aftertaste of cowardice for never having given some snappy answer in an interview that I knew was going south anyway.  If you know you’re gonna die might as well fire all your bullets.

This question must have hopped into my brain because of the hoopla of the ending of one decade and the commencing of a new one, the 2020’s.  Being hopelessly awake and fighting the notion of just giving up and getting up on a cold winter morning I managed to turn the question around, “Just where DID you find yourself over the last ten years?

Ten years ago I wasn’t even blogging yet.  My very first post was dated December 31st, 2011 on a blog that’s now defunct.  It was a retrospective, looking back on the year just ending.

When the decade of the 2010’s was still a mere baby:
Japan had a tsunami and Haiti had an earthquake.
Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State awaiting the 2016 coronation that wouldn’t be and Benghazi which likely had some role in derailing the coronation was still two years away when the decade began.  Benghazi.  That hornets’ nest seems to have been around since before email was invented – and we know that can’t be true.
“Cougar” had just been recognized as a word that describes neither a large cat or an old Mercury car model. Or an old rocker for that matter.
For a little touch of not so far back as it seems,  Game of Thrones hadn’t even premiered when the decade began.
On a personal note, Borders Books would close its last store.  A tragedy that I still mourn and just one more reason to detest Amazon.  And just to rub salt in the wound my favorite local outlets would be replaced by a golf store and a church (both an activity and a place that I’ll have no truck with).
Occupy started moving in 2011 and stopped moving shortly after. It’s since occurred to me that we Americans have lost our touch when it comes to protesting. Back in the sixties and seventies we were masters of the art. We forced legislation, helped cause shifts in policies and influenced the removal of two double dealing presidents (Johnson and Nixon). We helped force an endgame to a war with no apparent endgame. It was the voice of the people.

Decades later the people’s voice has become a faint whisper.  Now our protesting attention span is like it is with everything else – short.  If we can’t put down our cell phones for 15 minutes or we walk out of a baseball game in the fifth inning can it be reasonably expected of us to carry through with a protest movement?  And that’s at a time that we have an incompetent occupying the White House for three years who’s being enabled by a Constitution ignoring senate brazenly more interested in party than country, all of them team driving America into a ditch.  There’s an old saying that goes, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Americans have stopped being squeaky; we just allow ourselves to get greased.

Where did I find myself ten years ago?  I was a 56 year old purchasing agent out of a job and feeling desperate enough to apply at Starbucks’ and the Safeway deli, willing to be a barely warm body just as long as the gig provided a regular paycheck.

The beginnings of the 2010’s? We were reeling through the aftershocks of the Bush recession – or depression depending on who you talk to,  If you’re a diehard Dubya guy I guess you still hold fast to the 43rd president’s quixotic “slowdown.”  Yeah it was a “slowdown” alright.  It “slowed down” the Toyota plant in nearby Fremont right down to a screeching halt which caused wholesale “slowdowns” in the plant at K.S. Automotive, the injection molder where I worked as a purchasing agent.

We made consoles for Toyota Tundras and when the “slowdown” caused the bottom to drop out of auto sales, particularly truck sales, Toyota turned out the lights in Fremont.  It was a scary time and I remember management, in what was at best blatant stupidity, adding a little measure of cruel voyeurism to the “slowdowns.”

In one of the buildings was a conference room where we gathered for morning production meetings and various bitching sessions or ass chewings. The conference room had a large picture window that looked out on the plant.  There were those meetings when someone might drone on about nothing and you would let your attention float to the other side of the glass and the bustling plant.  For their part the plant workers would hustle past the window and just shoot a quick furtive glance at the meeting.

That changed during the “slowdown.”  On a number of occasions employees, mostly plant workers were handed their walking papers in that conference room, with the blinds up for all of their now former coworkers to see.  You’d walk by that big window and see the H.R. manager and a supervisor or two and a forlorn employee staring blankly at the table.  You no longer shot a quick glance into the room.  You stared, albeit as furtively as a stare can be.  Like gawking at a car crash looking to find the body.

Some of them I knew, some I didn’t; some I liked, some I didn’t and some I cared nothing about.  Cared nothing until I saw them get cashiered.  After all aren’t we all fellow travelers just trying to get by?  For the most part they were hard workers who cared about their jobs and carried out their duties without complaint.  They were men, women, young, and old.  Most had families and many were ESL and all of them sat in that office staring at the papers in front of them without really seeing them, hearing words that they couldn’t listen to for the turmoil and fear filling their heads.

I knew the basic termination drill from a previous job.  You walk out of the meeting flush with shame, arrive home early and unexpectedly and a spouse already knowing, still asks with a quivering tone and flatlining hope,
“You’re home early.  What happened?  They didn’t let you go did they?”
“Yeah.  I’m sorry.”
Tears.
The first time I was ever given my walking papers I went home, fell into my wife’s arms and cried.
“It’s okay, we’ll be okay.” Cora told me on that morning in 1993.  I guess that’s pretty much the stock answer. What other answer can there be?

Where was I ten years ago? Scared.

As the number of layoffs went up and morale plummeted the company president, a fellow named Ed, put out a notice confirming that heads would still be rolling but that those in danger of being let go would be given the courtesy of advance notice.  Small comfort but with a little heads up you might shed the constant ache in your gut, start looking over job postings and adjust the family budget.  It seemed like the decent thing for a company to do.

For months the sad parade of despondent former coworkers continued to shuffle out of the building, head down and feeling like the person who didn’t get invited to a party.  You passed them by as they left and you looked the other way, awkward, nothing to say.  They were already gone, ghosts who’s memories haunted the productions lines.

I still remember the day early at the start of the decade just done.  Monday, May 10th, 2010 walking towards another week at the office and suddenly detoured to the general manager’s office.  I walked in and was greeted by the GM, a bald guy named Kevin and his pal Pinhead from the Hellraiser movies.  Not the real Pinhead of course, he’s a fictional character.  That said during the years of my life I’ve run into many a pinhead in a manager’s office.  In Kevin’s case Pinhead was a statuette sitting on a shelf behind Kevin’s chair.  The little statue was disconcerting the first time you walked into the office but after that he/it just seemed an oddity.  The first time I saw it was when I first interviewed there and I couldn’t help but to keep glancing at Hell’s priest.
“Where do you see yourself in ten years?”
“I don’t know but wherever I am I’ll be wondering why Pinhead is looking over your shoulder.”  I really didn’t say that of course.
I didn’t last anywhere close to ten years and so on that May morning along with me and Kevin and Pinhead were my immediate supervisor and the H.R. manager with a stack of papers in front of her.

I vaguely recall spending most of my sacking staring blankly at Pinhead, not hearing the H.R. manager’s now rote sentencing but understanding it.

In the end the execution was quick and painless.  As I walked out of the building and through the parking lot I felt the stares of my now former coworkers.  I could almost feel their relief that it wasn’t them; a sort of guilt ridden comfort.  Isn’t it called survivor’s guilt?  Ironically the person most relieved was me.  I never expected the dreaded termination to be so – refreshing.  I didn’t feel the shame of failing in my job or failing myself or failing my family.  I was just one of the my fellow Americans lost in the economic numbers game, some of whom were never found again. That perpetual stitch in my gut was gone, the tension lifted and any mysteries about my future in that building solved.  I was liberated of anxiety and could, undistracted, concentrate on moving forward.

Before getting in the car I called Cora, “I’m on my way home. They let me go. Don’t worry. I’m okay with this.” And I was okay but for one small detail. I’d never received that courtesy notification from Ed who’ll always remain infamous to me for his lack of testicular fortitude.  What did he think I was going to do?  Punch him in the nose?  Go find another job and leave the one that I was going to be cashiered from?  It’s ten years later and I hope his cowardice still haunts him, chicken shit.

I was given 6 months of severance and I filed for unemployment.  In August I interviewed at California Glass, a glass container distributor in Oakland, about a ten minute drive from my previous employer.

I honestly can’t recall having been asked the “ten years” question at Cal Glass.  Maybe I was distracted by the H.R. manager’s consistent probing into my ability to take abuse. Seemed odd but I assured him that I could withstand whatever slings and arrows my future teammates could fire.  I was a purchasing agent for Chrissakes.  It’s part of the job description to take abuse.

Two weeks after interviewing they offered me a job at 30 percent more than I’d been making at the injection molder.  I guess I came off as a sucker thick skinned enough to take the mysterious backbiting that my future employer was hinting at.  Or maybe it was the fact that I was adept at a version of their of their outdated computer system.  With a month of severance left and the unemployment I’d been collecting I wound up making more money than if I’d still had my old job.  Ten years? Hell if I’d only been able to see where I was in ten weeks, flush with unexpected money and a higher paying job I’d have taken the family  to Hawaii.  Cora and I celebrated at a bayfront Thai restaurant that lasted a few short years before it closed to reopen as a Mediterranean joint.  That’s where I was ten years ago.

Where did I find myself during the last decade?  By the numbers? Cora and I started out the decade just the two of us and a dog, ready to downsize from four bedrooms and two stories to a small single level two bedroom house; that is until the influx.  We ended the decade in the same house with four adults, two children and two dogs.  We’re a full house now and in my mid-sixties I could do without the backyard pool and the flight of stairs that is one day going to be a problem.  It’s all good though.  I’ve been able to bond with two grandchildren and give some comfort to a couple of people trying to get by in the ridiculous Bay Area economy.

One wedding in the family and one divorce.  Three more grandchildren to add to the first. Two retirements.  The passing of one dog and the welcoming of another.  The death of a lover from long ago and a former supervisor who I didn’t really appreciate or know until she was gone.  Three broken bones, two pulmonary emboli (the doctor said I’m lucky to be alive) and not a single partridge or pear tree.  Two 100 mile bike rides for charity and 13 miserable miles of an ill conceived half-marathon that I ran in celebration of my 60th birthday.  I should’ve just had a glass of bubbly and moved on.

Cora won bouts 3 and 4 with cancer.  She took both with the aplomb of someone who has the faith that God has her back.  I never asked her if she was scared.  I know I was scared but asking her would’ve been superfluous and inappropriate.  Feeling the icy cold breath of mortality on her neck how could she not be scared?  But she never let on, she just elbowed mortality in the belly and moved on about life.  That’s the difference between the two of us.  She has the undying faith that I never had much more than a small measure of; faith that I abandoned completely during the last decade.  Some time during the last ten years I took a stab at being an Episcopalian and, despite Robin Williams’ comical endorsement it never stuck.  I guess it was about a year ago that I sat down with the pastor at the nearby Martinez parish.  We talked theology and while it was an interesting talk her answers to my questions didn’t satisfy.  So I’m left both amazed and envious of Cora for the way she has carried herself through adversity.  However she does it, through faith, courage or tea leaves, she’s been the rock of the family for far more than one decade.  She’s been solid for just about four decades.

It was early in the decade past that my best friend tried to take her life.  It was only for the fact that I’d just sold her my old car and could pass the plate number to the police that she was found alive but unresponsive.  I spent the better, or worse, part of the next day in the depressing bowels of Oakland’s Highland Hospital.  The rules say that best friends aren’t allowed to be told the condition of someone who’s just attempted suicide. As if that person is going to leave an advance directive.  I begged, sweet talked and cajoled the woman at the front desk who listened patiently, looked me over and recognized the desperation.  She asked me to sit tight; she’d talk to the doctor.  I was ushered into a small, graffiti stained room not much bigger than a closet where I sat tight for hours before a short audience with the doctor who assured me that my best friend would survive.  On the way home I stopped at a liquor store parked in my driveway, sat in the car and got laced.

She’d been staying at our house and one evening she went out to leave for good, leaving us a short note.  There was nothing profound or telling or hinting at what she’d planned; just thanks for everything and signed off “love.”  I thought that I’d saved that note but when I went through a general house cleaning the note wasn’t to be found.  Ten years later I still search for it occasionally.  Nothing special in that note except that to me it’s special.  A reminder I guess of how fate is balanced precariously on a razor’s edge – and the plate number of a used Pontiac.  That and life and best friends are precious and both the years in your life and the life in your years do matter.  Ten years later and she’s a corporate vice president.  Clearly not where she saw herself in ten years.

Presidents, politics, polarization, hatred and hostility.  You could write volumes of posts about ten years of national discord.  I’ll leave those to the news pundits.  We’ve seen a decline and a fall but that’s been going on for much longer than a mere ten years.

In the sixties we were working towards social justice and to putting people first.  That was until business took a look at that and declared, “Oh hell no.” And so business pushed back hard and it took far less than ten years to get into the fast lane to becoming a business and money first nation that threw the interests of people, the environment and justice to the curb.  From an of, by, and for the people nation we went to a “citizens united” nation (at the beginning of the last decade if you care to know) that in all of our ignorance and indolence we just never saw coming. Never really bothered to look where our country would be in ten years.

In the last decade I learned that there are far too many of my fellow Americans who are just downright mean and bad.  Just mean and bad, we don’t need flowery words to describe them.  Many have been emboldened over the past five years by a malevolent, self serving huckster turned president to show their true darkness but it also took the presidency of a black man to put some folks over the top.  I recall seeing a parked car in Abingdon, Virginia in 2014 that was plastered with bumper stickers that demeaned Obama in ways that were obscene, racist and vile.  In many respects we haven’t moved an iota from where we were 200 years ago and it took a little less than half of the last decade to prove that.

I’m done with it. I started the past decade a historian and avid political junkie.  I’ve left that behind me. My best friend and I used to sit together on Saturday mornings at Peet’s in Berkeley and talk about movies and television, vacations and dreams.  We also talked long about politics.  Politically speaking we were in the same church but not always in the same pew (in 2008 I was for Hillary and she for Obama and in 2012 she was for Hillary and I was for any Democrat but. In 2016 we were mutually disappointed and disgusted). With the rise of the charlatan in 2015 and his ascension to the presidency and all the rancor and ruin he’s wrought I gave up on all of it in just the past year.  It took a mere fraction of my six and a half decades on this Earth to lose pride in my country.  Maybe I was too pollyannaish for all that time and it took me that long to become jaded and pragmatic.

I was at the gym this past New Years Eve, when I got into a conversation with the young woman who keeps the place clean.  She shows up occasionally in the spinning room  when I’m cycling by myself listening to a podcast.  We’ve become chums; she stops her work and leans on one of the bikes, I slow down my pace and pause the podcast and we talk for a few.

On this particular morning she was cleaning the locker room and I was wrapped in a towel when she stopped to wish me a Happy New Year, I returned the greeting and we talked about New Years.  She wasn’t going out to celebrate. “I’m getting too old for that.”  She laughed when I responded, “You too old?” You’re not going to get any sympathy from me with that ‘too old’ crap. You’re too young to say, “too old”. You have it all in front of you.”

In the end I offered that it’s just numbers on a calendar.  Does it really matter when you decide to start a new year or a new decade or a take a new direction?  We agreed that while a resolution is a good thing it shouldn’t be dependent on the first day of a calendar year. The calendar isn’t there to help you.  It just hangs there, tacked to your wall or shines back at you when you look at your phone.

She left and in my head I studied the numbers on a calendar notion.  It’s not that simple. A decade, ten years, ten calendars.  They really aren’t just numbers.  All of those little squares tacked to the wall; notations, events, reminders; red letter days and dark days. Holidays, birthdays, surgery days, recovery days and days of mourning.  Tax days, first day of school days and summer vacation days.  All done and gone and sitting in a landfill or turned into another calendar or book or whatever they recycle the years gone by into.

I’m reasonably certain that ten years ago if you’d asked the young woman at the gym where she thought she would be she wouldn’t have said, “Pushing a mop in a gym.” Who dreams of that?  Our talk is always small so I don’t know about her past.  Only she knows if being a janitor at a gym is an upgrade or a downgrade from where she was a decade ago.  I know that she’s holding down a pretty crappy job and it might not be her only job.  She’s a gregarious, friendly woman who talks easily and cheerfully with the clients and coworkers.  Even when we just pass and exchange greetings her enthusiasm makes my visit more pleasant.  We barely know each other yet she always calls me, “my friend.”  “Hello my friend!” By all appearances, she has life in her years and for a few moments she adds some life to my years.

When I was a teen/young adult if someone had asked where I saw myself in ten years I might have answered in a smartass tone, “I’ll be dead in ten years.”  It was the foolish, macho male kind of thing that me and my equally foolish buddies used to say.  We thought we were rugged individualists, James Dean’s without the leather and the motorcycle.  Live hard, play harder, die young and mourned by none.  Truth is, the slightest hint of death would’ve had us cushy suburbanite boys reciting Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s, trying to strike a last minute deal with god. 

I’m 66 years old and happy that my foolish, feigned bravado never came to pass. I have four grandchildren, two wonderful children and a loving wife who I probably don’t deserve.  But I still don’t know the answer to that silly ten years question.

What I do know is that for the first time in my life it’s hit me that I’ve got fewer decades in front of me than behind me.  I’m beginning to feel a little bit like I did that day when I was walked out of my job at K.S.  I feel like I’m being ushered out of the party that by necessity will continue on without me; guests I’ll never know and party games that I’ll miss.  That’s how it goes, right?

The life in my years has been good to me despite my various attempts to screw things up.  As the old rocker Joe Walsh once sang, “I can’t complain but sometimes I still do. Life’s been good to me so far” The life in my years hasn’t been as interesting as my semi-retired attorney friend who travels extensively and does exciting things like fly an airplane and skydive (not on the same trip I hope) but certainly better than those who don’t know where they might be in ten minutes much less ten years.

They say I’m crazy but I have a have a good time
I’m just looking for clues at the scene of the crime
Life’s been good to me so far…

Lucky I’m sane after all I’ve been through
(Everybody say I’m cool, he’s cool)
I can’t complain but sometimes I still do
Life’s been good to me so far…

They say I’m lazy but it takes all my time
(Everybody say oh yeah, oh yeah)
I keep on goin’ guess I’ll never know why
Life’s been good to me so far  ~ Life’s Been Good written by Joe Walsh.

So how did my early morning reverie end? After mulling over the years I gave up, got up took ten milligrams of melatonin and overslept. 

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12 thoughts on “Weighing the Years in the Early Morning

  1. Jane Fritz says:

    That was quite the early morning reverie, Paulie! Many life lessons in there. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Paulie says:

      It seems that the ideas and thoughts come to me at the most inopportune times. I guess the rule is to keep a notebook on the nightstand.

      1. Jane Fritz says:

        Lol. When I was working I could have solved a lot of personnel issues if I had done that! 😏Seriously, probably a good idea.

  2. Lots to think about with this one Paul. I went to two funerals of a 99 and 82 year old women this week. Both had amazing lives and touched so many people. As I sat at the second one today my mind drifted to what will people remember about me and what will my life be like when the Lord calls me home. Life goes by in a blink of an eye and when I look back on my 66 years, I am amazed at where I am now and how my perspective about my life and the world has changed. I’m looking forward to seeing where the next 10 years takes me😊

    1. Paulie says:

      I’m replying rather late to your comment and that’s because I needed to mull it over a bit. I had to ask myself if I’ve touched lives, built a satisfactory legacy and sadly I had to answer, “no,” not one that I would necessarily brag about. I don’t know that my eulogy would be anything special.
      24 months ago I had no intention of retiring. Two months later as my wife was going through surgery for her 4th cancer I decided to retire. I did so the following October when I turned 65. I’m still struggling with retirement a bit. When I’m not out with my camera or sitting down to write I sometimes suffer from creeping boredom. I’d always said that if and when I retired I would do volunteer work – give back. I guess maybe its time to get off my butt.

      1. For many it is tough to enter the world of retirement. Sounds like you may have reached that pivotal moment when you get to figure out what to do in this next chapter of your life. The fun part is you get to choose! 🎉

  3. LucyLu says:

    I am 47 years old and when I read your blog entry today… about your thoughts around job losses, attempted suicide and politics… it actually saddens me as so much has changed. I had stated to a friend that all that fight, revolution for better seems it went to shits. Today, unfortunately this government, elites, monopolized businesses has many of the population or all of us occupied with killing our brains through social media, fake news, overloaded on information that people just roam around in their bubble as that seems safer. I am afraid to see the world in ten years from now as I feel there will be huge job losses, high costs to everything, bad leaders, uprise in racism and the future feels blink for the children of our future! I just hope I am truly wrong! And I look around and scream in my head why are we not fighting trying to make change well everyone is busy in Instagram, Snapchat, twitter and everything else that’s the huge issue!!! Who do you see outside playing???? I live in Canada and things are not so great either!!! Well to better days of the future!!! I promote on my blogs strategies to cope through mental health and instagram I promote positivity!!! Share love is the path to help create a better world!!!!!!

    1. Paulie says:

      I don’t know that I can disagree with your comment. It reiterates much of what I say in my piece. While I was writing, I did a number of edits and rewrites trying to make it more positive. I probably could have done that but I felt like it was already too long (remember that attention span thing?). As I read it and reread it and reread it a number of times more I realized that there are some positives to be taken from the piece even if they aren’t readily apparent.

      I have some basic beliefs and some might very well be naive but I hang on to them because they give me hope that in the end we aren’t headed towards the precipice.
      History is cyclical and constantly changes course in response to the mood of society. As bleak as things are now, they’ve been bleak before. We’ll turn the corner and things will get better…and then things will get worse. Of course that all depends on your POV. One man’s Obama is another man’s Trump.
      The apparent dichotomy is that some things never change. We just don’t realize it until those things become apparent. For example, I don’t believe that racism is on the rise. It just recently became more apparent with the election of a black man followed by the presidency of a racist. Racism is a constant and will never go away. What will happen is that the cyclical nature of history will send it back under the wet rock from whence it came.
      Somehow we manage as individuals and as societies to adapt (history is cyclical).
      My dad used to say, “The good old days never were.” We tend to look back through nostalgic eyes and wish for the bygone days. I remember when a person of color couldn’t get on a bus. I remember when I was very young, the use of the “N” word was open and pervasive. I also remember the ridiculous duck and cover drills during the cold war. There will always be ills that compel us to look back and wish for what we want to think were better times without remembering the ills of those times.
      Changes aren’t necessarily bad. Sometimes we as individuals just don’t adapt very well and don’t allow ourselves to see the positives of some changes. We’re comfortable with the way things were.
      The common denominator is ONE, the individual. It’s up to the individual. We’re responsible for ourselves and our choices. They aren’t always going to be wise and when they aren’t wise we need to make choices to correct the results of the bad ones.
      It’s up to the individual. Yes I know i already said that and here is the other dichotomy. It’s up to each of us to help make things better for others who either made the wrong choice or have no choice. This is how we make society a better place. And it’s the right thing to do.
      Things happen for a reason. I’m not religious by any stretch but I do believe in things happening for a reason. I’ve given examples in other posts of mine and I gave an example with my friend who tried to take her own life.
      This response is already too long. Thank you for reading, commenting and following. I will gladly continue the discussion if you wish.

      1. LucyLu says:

        I agree with that too! As I have said some things in the past were not good. Many had died of aids in the 80s, heroin was killing many young people in the late 70s, rock promoted drugs in many of its lyrics, immigration into North America was not easy… lots of racism. We had the mafia in the 80s …. going strong in certain states, serial killers and physical discipline was condoned. So it is true as we get older we definitely get nostalgic as it’s our childhoods we miss! Definitely agree that racism was just hidden and now with these last current leaders showed peoples true colours. 911 during the Bush days was terrible and that is where business changed!!! Bush stated if your sad ….. shop!!! And the world of debit started! It’s a dance we do ….. we go back and forth! Thanks for the conversation! I read it all…😁

      2. Paulie says:

        You mentioned that you are in Canada. We visited Canada and it certainly seemed to be doing much better. At least you have a better healthcare system and the cost of buying drugs won’t send you to into bankruptcy. I don’t mean to pry. Did you emigrate from the U.S?

  4. Hettie D. says:

    As humans, we always think we know, where we are going to be in ten years. If we ask ourselves honestly:). We always have in on the back of our mind, that “next year I will do that”, and kids will graduate and go to college, and we will remodel this old kitchen in two years… we always have these “default” thoughts. We might not want to admit it, but we are planning all the time, consciously or subconsciously.

    And activism is very much … active 🙂

    1. Paulie says:

      Hello Hettie and thank you so much for commenting. I don’t disagree that at points in our lives most of us have plans, dreams, goals. Before I started college I had the notion that I would be a history professor. After graduating events took over and I jumped to and from various jobs from retail work to owning a fast food restaurant to purchasing. I’d never really aspired to any of those long term until my niche became purchasing.

      That’s true of many acquaintances of mine, particularly those with liberal arts degrees who had notions of teaching. There are others who I know who were always certain of what they wanted to do in life. They answered a calling; my daughter in law is a nurse, my daughter’s ex-husband is a firefighter, my wife’s niece a doctor and my nephew an engineer.

      As regards activism I don’t disagree either that it’s active but for those of us who lived through the sixties and seventies remember an activism that was much more aggressive and forceful. We never would have accepted a 19 year long war or an incompetent in the presidency. Maybe people are just too busy. I’m relatively certain that many are satisfied with their own personal situations. It wasn’t the same during the Vietnam War when there was a draft and those who opposed the war had more to lose by themselves or their dear ones going to war. Activism in those decades helped to produce actual quantifiable change.

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