Older and a Little Bit Wiser

cat and microphone on a pink background. the cat sings into theI used to dream about being a skilled musician. In my fantasies, I could play the piano with panache and sing the most difficult songs with ease. It didn’t stop there. I could also dance.

I no longer waste my time dreaming about those things. They simply aren’t in my skill set. If I can carry a tune well enough to soothe my cats, I’m satisfied. It has to be a simple song that allows for some improvisation at the parts out of my three-note range. Those songs are out there, as Walter and Mimi, my kitties, can testify.

Today’s challenges for me focus on what I can do. I can write. I can knit. I can design sweaters and other knitted goods for myself and my family. I still have a vivid imagination, something I didn’t lose when I grew out of childhood. 

But the most important thing I can do, something I didn’t fully recognize when I was younger, is to love myself, my family, and my friends. To be there for them when they need me. To help others when they can’t help themselves, or when resources are limited. To lend my support when times are tough.

AdobeStock_210621413 [Converted]In the past couple of months I’ve been talking to my dad on a regular basis. His wife Jeanne died in December, something I wrote about earlier. It’s been a powerful thing in my life, these conversations. I hope it has been the same for him. We didn’t used to talk much, and in recent years the phone calls got shorter and shorter.

I realize now that Jeanne had been going downhill for sometime and his energy and focus was on her. I didn’t realize how bad her Alzheimer’s was–or that she even had Alzheimer’s–until after she died. I feel a bit guilty that I was so unaware of something so important, but the reality is, not too many people knew. My brother was a little more clued in, and even he didn’t know the extent of the problem.

As anybody over the age of 30 can testify, you get older, you get wiser. You see things you didn’t see before, and recognize the signs that someone needs you. Sometimes, however, reality catches up with you and you see that you aren’t as wise as you thought or hoped. That’s a sort of wisdom in and of itself.

Older and little bit wiser.

Image Credits: Sapling © Arthon–stock.adobe.com; Singing cat © Elena–stock.adobe.com;  Telephone © stock.adobe.com

Sum Greater than the Parts

When the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Explaining synergy gets a little convulated, but basically, it amounts to this: you take two parts and together, they create something that’s worth more than the combined value of the two parts. Two plus two equals five.

I learned of a practical example of this the other day. A co-worker was telling me about his son, an accomplished photographer. While he has the same raw skills with a camera many of his peers possess, he has another skill, one that by itself likely wouldn’t take him far professionally, but enhances his photography skills: he’s a trained hypnotist.

He can help people relax, not by actually hypnotizing them, but by  giving them tips and cues to bring out their natural selves. This talent has brought him high praise, including what has to be one of the top compliments a photographer can receive: “you captured their souls.”

A recent assignment for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation had him shooting pictures of a young woman with that horrible disease for the foundation’s newsletter. The stunning results brought tears to her parent’s eyes, who know they will likely lose their daughter in a few short years. They will have these treasured images to remind them of who she was, inside and out, while here on earth.

I loved hearing about that set of skills and how they combined to bring so much joy to people. It made me wonder how many people out there have two seemingly unrelated talents that together would explode into a rich and rare ability.

In college, we focus on a career path, and that’s a good thing. Goals are important, and seeing into the future helps keep us moving forward. What we don’t know at that age is everything we’re capable of, or even the ways our quirky pasttimes might bring us more glory.

Synergy can happen at any point in our life. Horrible experiences from the past may have resulted in a mindset that opens up a skill we’ve been building on for years, but have hit a roadblock in developing further. There are countless examples of how the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts in our lives.

Keep your heart and mind open to possibilities, and never forget your interests belong to you, you have a right to them, and they may just save you in the end.

Photo Credit: (Diamond and Coal) © cherylvb – stock.adobe.com

Carry a What?

I fully appreciate my God-given talents. I was born, it would seem, with an ability to write well, something I’ve tried over the years to cultivate and focus. I’m an excellent knitter, decent seamstress, and have a creative eye for decorating. Nothing I’ve turned into a career, nor would I want to do so, but it makes my home a happy place to be.

One thing I cannot do, no way, no how,  is carry a tune. I am one of the tiny percent of people who simply have not an ounce of musical talent. It makes church services a little long sometimes, because I rarely even try to hum along or mouth the words. Yes, I have my favorite hymns, and I do chime in with those, under my breathe. If you start playing “Great is Thy Faithfulness” I will be compelled to pretend I’m singing along with you.

And my cats put up with me around the house. What choice do they have? Each has his or her own song. For Walter, it’s “Walter Kitty, You’re the One” sung to the tune of “Rubber Ducky, You’re the One,” and for Mimi, it is “You are My Sunshine.” I can almost get by with that one, and she knows it’s her song. She’ll sit closer to me and snuggle in.

For the late great Paco, I had a handful of old country classics I’d sing as I held him, and he burrowed into my shoulder and purred as I would murmur, “You Don’t Know Me” so softly, only he could hear it. I think the tune comforted him, as did being held.

Holding baby blueYears ago I got trapped into working in the nursery at my church during the Kid’s Christmas Pageant. As you might imagine, a lot of the parents who normally would have taken on that job had older children, or even nieces, nephews and neighborhood friends, performing as sheep and angels and what have you, so they wanted to be in the service, The church was recruiting those of us old enough to have done our share of babysitting, yet young (or unattached) enough not to be too concerned if we missed the children’s performances, to assist with the wee ones.

As soon as a I entered the nursery, I was handed a screaming eight-month-old. Normally the policy was to retrieve the parents if the crying persisted, but the ladies in charge knew this little guy had an older sister making her stage debut, and felt it was best to wait it out. Powerful lungs, he had, and nothing I did helped.

So I started to sing, barely a whisper, and to my shock, it made a difference. “Your mama don’t dance and your daddy don’t rock-and-roll,” I crooned. “Doo, doo, doo. Your mama don’t dance and your daddy don’t rock-and-roll. But when evening comes around and it’s time to hit the town….” The older ladies gave me odd glances, but I didn’t care.

He still cried, but wouldn’t let anyone else take over. This was a conservative church, the kind where you didn’t advertise you’d ever listened to Loggins & Messina, let alone attended movies like Footloose or Dirty Dancing. I didn’t tell his parents what I’d been singing (my guess now is they wouldn’t have cared), but thiry-plus years later, I wonder, what does that little boy, now a grown man, think of if and when he hears that song?

Does it bring him an odd, unidentifiable kind of comfort? Does he sing it to his own kids for reasons he can’t explain? Or has he completely forgotten everything about that evening and being carried for nearly two hours by a college student who felt helpless against his tears?

Songs are powerful, so is a hug. I pray that eternal life brings with it a greater ability to express myself through music, but in the meantime, I’ll keep writing. And humming just a little…

Image Credits: (Birds on a Wire) courtesy of Pixabay;(Holding Baby Blue) © soapysoft — Fotolia

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