This has been a while coming and the arrival of a “gift” this past week was the tipping point. It came in a mailing tube….a large poster-size copy of a fancily calligraph-lettered poem on an Old Woman’s Survival advice.
The line that absolutely set me off was, “Put earrings in every day.” Followed further down by, “…don’t feel guilty because you are not saving the world.” Then, “keep trying, keep trying, keep trying.”
“Put my earrings in”. Really!!! I don’t even comb my hair!
I forget what else was in there. I was in a hurry to cut into the poster that I am sure was intended for me to keep pinned to a place where I would see it every day. Cut it into folios and make a book with all the strings that I do have to keep tied up or follow to the next connection or knot of daily responsibilities.
Just what is it that makes people think they have the right to advise, give spiritual encouragement to those they don’t even know at all?!
What gives the one who sends these words to people the hubris to assume we need their “thoughtfulness” in a letter full of their own importance?
This is not thoughtful. This is not kind. This is a royal pain in the rear end.
Once women reach a certain age, who gives other women the right to assume we need spiritual guidance? A while back I remember it was the guidance for women to “just visualize a better life and it would happen”. I asked the source of that advice how that would work out for the savaged women of Darfur?
We did not ask for someone to write these words. We have our own. And we didn’t ask someone to carefully craft those words into a perfectly graphed layout and then have the gall to send it to us with a form letter enclosed.
A form letter!!! Just a hand-written “Sandy” after the word, Dear_____! And then sign it in her own name. I am convinced she is expecting a “thank you” for her thoughtfulness.
For the record I don’t get up and put on my earrings! I get up, prepare Lee’s toothbrush and make the bed while Lee puts on his pants and shoes. I have turned on the coffee that I remembered to prepare the night before. He will have his coffee while I quickly take a shower and dress. Next I have a coffee with him and open my computer telling him we have friends in the box we can check on.
Then I do some of the simple chores he used to do. Next prepare his shower and help him find clothes. Next I fix breakfast and my day proceeds from there.
Most of the time I am saying things repeatedly. He can’t hang on to what he hears and he can’t find the words to talk about what he is thinking.
My day continues——without earrings. Without guilt that I am not saving the world! Without taking a walk! Without doing one damn thing this poem advises me to do.
And the hubris of it all pisses me off. It is like those commercials with older models selling me some product because I am “one of them.”…..an older wise crone.
Let me ask these two, the one who wrote the poem and the one who sent it.
Would you tell Madeleine Albright to put on her earrings and take a walk?
Would you make sure Ruth Ginsberg received a copy of a calligraphed poster because she needs to be reminded every day to “keep try, keep trying”.
You have no idea what our life is and what we need to keep going. But I can give you an idea or two.
People who care enough to know me – care enough to notice my life do this:
They send funny, newsy letters and cards, not pages of patronizing platitudes.
They keep in touch on social media.
And some, notably not many, actually ask what they can help out with.
Some of us “old woman” that you want to advise on how to live are just grateful to be alive. Try to keep that in mind.
So the only thing I am grateful to the poet and calligrapher for is the opportunity to get this off my chest.
And I got to make another book form that was content driven….endless picking up and folding in what keeps Lee and me going.
Til later with no anger, no frustration and more pictures and drawings….I promise.