Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Way We Were

Watching the Grammys the other night, which I rarely do, I have to admit I wasn't all that familiar with most of the artists that were up for an award.  It felt very strange to be so removed from who and what was "current" - to realize that "my generation" really wasn't part of the Grammy generation any longer.  Of course, there was the performance by Bob Dylan, which for his sake and the sake of many others I wish he would've passed the torch and let his son Jacob take the stage.  Mick Jagger was incredible, same little skinny body, same spasmodic dance movements and his vocals were pretty right on.  You have to admire that man. Then out came Barbra Streisand, who in my opinion still has one of the most incredible female voices on the planet.  But then there was poor Kris, barely able to walk without assistance, but he showed up just the same.

So after the show I started thinking, "when do you hang it up?"  Unfortunately, people do remember us from our last performance.  They tend to forget our youth and accomplishments and focus on "that poor Whitney couldn't hit the right notes to save her soul" - now her failing vocal cords overshadowing the once perfect "I will always love you" so powerful and soulful that it could bring us to our knees.  I now understand why some of the terminally ill don't want their friends or loved ones to pay them a visit when they are withering away or on their deathbed.  They want to be remembered when they were at their best, vital, strong, alive.

The old "you're only as old as you feel" really isn't true at all.  Just like Snow White and Cinderella, these are fairy tales we tell each other to make life a little easier, to feel better about ourselves.  My mother always said "you always feel the same age inside", and this I believe to be true.  We are eternally youthful in our soul.  The only time I am really reminded of my age (except for a few physical limitations that occur every once in awhile) is when I stand next to my daughter in the mirror and notice how incredibly white the whites of her eyes are, and her teeth, her taunt skin and shiny hair, and then I think, "God, when did this happen, when did I start fading?"

But back to the knowing when to give it up, to let go, to bask in your past accomplishments and not feel like you need to keep sticking your neck out, doing it one more time.  We legally have to wait until a certain age to do things, even though we may very well be mature enough beforehand.  For example, 18, 19 and 20  year old soldiers can't legally have a beer, but they can blow the enemies brains out.  There's something not right about that.  You can't vote until you are 18 but you can continue to vote until the day you die, unless of course someone has declared you senile or incompetent, but if they don't, hey, as long as you can make it down to the polling booth, you are good to go. You need to be sixteen to drive a car, and 18 to drive it without supervision, but who tells you what the cut off age when you need to stop?  Once you have had an accident too many? 

I'm not suggesting that we hit a certain age and then have to sit quietly on the sidelines, watching the game, and never playing again or advocating that if we do, we always need to attain perfection.  But I do think it is important to know ourselves a little bit better and admit when maybe we should leave certain things behind.  Whether it is as simple as knowing, "I really do need reading glasses", or "that blouse is way too low cut for me," to  "I can't sing (dance/drive/wear a bikini, etc.) like I used to, so it's probably best to let someone else do it", just pay attention. And be okay with it. Like Kenny Rogers once sang, "you got to know when to fold em."

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