Getting older sucks. There's just no way around it.
At 59, and with each passing year, it gets more and more frequent that I get out of bed with some upper body (or lower body, depending on what areas I hit yesterday at Equinox) muscle group singing, good morning!, in just that special way which only they know how to do.
Yet, despite what a wise old friend told me years ago when she was just a few years more experienced than I am now in this silly game of life, "Getting old - it ain't for sissies," I've found there are nuggets of gold being discovered in life now that I never could find before, and makes the journey all the more worthwhile.
It struck me this morning, while in the shower, which, incidentally, has recently become a very special and sacred sort of space - and only those people north of 50 will know what I'm talking about there - is that I truly like something that's developing more fully in my life, more and more each day, with just about the same intensity and fortitude as the above mentioned challenges. I suppose it's nature's' attempt at compensation, my soul giving me something in return to take my mind off the fact that six pack abs will be something of the past, very soon, if not already now, truth be known.
And that's the something of: keeping an open mind in life.
Of keeping judgments held back just a bit, a bit more than I used to do, until a bit more rational inquiry and information has come in to take the place of fear and popular reaction.
Open mindedness is a skill, and one I believe must be developed. Being 59 years old now helps, simply because by my age, you've seen enough situations where withholding judgment turned out to be a good thing after all. And you've seen enough situations where judging situations and people quickly turned out to be a bad thing - for yourself, mostly.
I'm about as liberal as they come. I have a worldview that we as a world, a country, a society, a family, a workplace, and workplace teams, should be inclusive and expending most of our energy taking care of one another in some way, not just competing with each other or allowing for divisions to flourish based upon our often unique communities or heritages.
I think that's my definition of liberal. Others are free to disagree.
Yet, more and more as time goes by, I've found it helpful to keep an open mind, and that means for everyone, not just for those who agree with my worldview. I think people with different worldviews still may have something to offer me and the world around me. Others are free to disagree.
Being liberal, my liberal friends are often shocked that I keep an open mind and even participate in topics which they have shut themselves off to. Then again, most of them are younger, and I think just haven't had enough time to see how keeping an open mind can be an advantage for them.
Being liberal, my liberal friends are shocked that I think Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh may have some things to offer to the country, and he may be more than simply the sum of the alleged behaviors which he is now being investigated for. Maybe not, but maybe.
Sadly, though, no one today is speaking any longer about the issues which would actually come before the Supreme Court, and how those issues would or would not actually shape our lives. Sadly, that's no longer interesting.
What would it be like if I was only known for the worst thing I've done? - Catherine Hoke
Maybe this nominee isn't someone I'd want on that particular Court. But it's difficult to know that right now. Maybe keeping an open mind will help me to know. Others are free to disagree.
Being liberal, my liberal friends are shocked that I support the NRA, and even more shocked that I've earned a Concealed Carry Weapons permit.
But by keeping an open mind, I've discovered that the NRA isn't happy about gun violence in our communities any more than anyone else is, and also no more than Mercedes-Benz would be happy about the drive-by shootings with which their luxury product is both preferred for and successfully used for, by violent gangs.
Quite the opposite, in fact; as there is no one in this country, no one at all, really, other than the NRA, who is setting high standards and training for safe and responsible firearms handling, along with promoting your ability to retain a full array of options - as you personally determine to be appropriate for your own circumstances - for the protection of yourself and your family from those who would do you harm.
The NRA isn't trying to convince you to have a gun. But they do want you, a responsible, stable, mature, and law-abiding good citizen, to retain your option to have one, just in case you wish to assume some of the responsibility to protect your loved ones - instead of always hoping that someone else will just happen to be around at the moment needed, to do that for you.
And, if you do choose to help with that responsibility, the NRA can guide you and train you, quite extensively, if requested, in how to handle it safely and to remain a responsible, upstanding and fully law-abiding citizen of your local community.
But, I never would've come to that realization, if I had simply fallen in line to others' opinions of how I should think, instead of keeping an open mind and allowing more information to come forward to consider.
Thinking about the difficult, and often very unpleasant, things needed to protect others' well being and safety is what open minded people can do. And getting older, one finds the maturity to face things that cannot always be faced while younger, to face the things that really matter, and how to take care of the people you love or perhaps the people that you work for in the manner that is practical reality - and not just in the manner that is luxury fantasy.
Being liberal, my liberal friends are shocked when I express that people should - themselves - be held accountable for making their way in life, accountable for good performance in society and accountable for good performance at work; that I have a preference for those who are living their lives as Gives, instead of Give Nots.
Although it seems contradictory to them, I believe that holding people accountable and being compassionate towards them can peacefully exist together; can compliment each other. Yet it takes an open mind, it takes looking at these issues from all sides, and being open to more than just shutting oneself down to additional inquiry and voting one way or the other because someone said they must vote that way, in order to stay popular with a certain in-group.
I remember learning at USF that there's over 300 new books published each year on the topic of workplace management and leadership. I think that number may be a bit low. And I think that tells us that there are many ways to manage and inspire domestic service teams and successful private estates, and will continue to be; otherwise, there'd only be one book which was ever purchased and read, instead of the countless thousands which have come and gone over the years.
Being older, one realizes there are many ways to get the job done, many ways to relate to people and to help them be the best that they can be, whatever it is that they want to be, and there will be many more ways to come. All it will take to know about them, is to keep an open mind.
I find that realization of keeping an open mind to be exciting, to be energizing, to be life positive, and to be life affirming.
And those are some things I didn't always have 20 years ago, when I was 39.
And so well maybe, I was just thinking in the shower today...
...with all that good stuff coming around these days, maybe getting older doesn't suck so much, after all.