Many of us have ‘issues’ with what is going on in the world today. Not the same for everyone, but there are probably a few common ones that concern us all. At my stage of life, in these late septuagenarian years, I find myself aware of issues in the world, but I’m now nervous about spending time and emotional energy dealing with them. ‘Why is that?’ you may ask.
It’s not hard for me to get a picture of my future. Around me I see the ageing process catching up with friends and acquaintances. There are differences with each, but there are some common threads: arthritis, dementia, loneliness, cancer, heart disease, and the big one, death.
More and more my key concern is self centred—‘How am I going to spend my remaining years, of which I have no idea how many there will be.’ What’s more, how many of those years will I be able to live in an aware, cognitive state?
Regardless of whether my restrictions will be physical or mental, there is a limit on the time I have left. What I’ve decided is that I don’t want to use that time worrying about issues that I can’t do anything about.
As I ruminated about this, I remembered a statement Peter Gzowski made back in the 1980’s on his CBC radio program 'Morningside'. He questioned, “What was the last piece of news reporting that you could actually do something about?” That got my attention, even back then, when I was in my forties.
Media companies must, as part of their business model, make money. They do this by selling news, so the message better be able to grab an audience. Consequently, we are inundated with a lot of spectacular and usually negative events, ‘…..that we can do nothing about.’
Though I don’t want to be a Pollyanna, I want to face my remaining years with a positive attitude. Less and less do I want subjects on my mind that will worry me or get me wound up only to realise that I’m not in any position to help or change things. What’s more, many of these issues augment the differences I have with those around me. I don’t want to spend my time expounding on our differences, I want to look for and focus on what we have in common and can enjoy together.
There was a time when I was an ‘issue person’. Give me an issue and I would get stuck in—learn about the subject and proffer my thoughts to anyone who would listen—even to a few who wouldn’t. This didn’t always endear me to those I talked with.
Over the past decade, I’ve come to realise that I no longer have much impact on what is coming for our society’s children and grandchildren . My time of influence outside of my family has passed. What I can do is be positive and ready with an opinion based on my experiences, but only if asked.
What I will focus on is to keep living in a healthy way, both physically and mentally, while looking for opportunities to learn and be creative. I won’t spend my time being stressed and worried about things that I can’t change.
My family attachments are important and, for me, time spent with them is time well spent. As my ageing peer group disappears, I want to have the youth of my family available to keep me feeling as young as possible. In the end, that will be the safe haven where I can still belong.
* The title is a nod to Mark Knopfler’s song “Why Worry”. Not all the words in the song fit my essay, but the sentiment does.