She sat across from me at her birthday dinner. She just turned 35. I am almost 49.
“I have laugh lines! I am getting gray hairs that stick straight up on end!”
“Well, it just makes it easier to pluck them out,” I said, trying to cheer her up.
“I am not going to complain about getting old. I LOVE aging!”
I looked at her sideways. This was unexpected. Who loves aging?
She explained, “We’re lucky to get old. Not everyone does. We should celebrate getting older, we’re so fortunate to keep living!”
I’ve decided that even though I live in America, where it is becoming a crime to be gay, trans, Mexican-American, Muslim or old, I hope we will eventually be like Taiwan when it comes to social issues. I’m not gay, but as an Asian-American, I know what discrimination feels like. In Taiwan, gays have equal rights. The Taiwanese also respect their elders and take care of them. So I’m going to walk around proud in all my Asian and old glory because I know I’m lucky to be alive and kicking.
If you wake up grateful for the day – the sunshine, your comfy bed, your loved ones – and you continue this state of gratitude and presence, imagine how happy you would be.
Have you ever been sick with flu or had a broken bone and then realized you’ve recovered completely? Remember how happy you were just to be “back to normal?” This is gratitude and reverence and you can live in this light all the time, if you choose.
Ellen DeGeneres decided to come out of the closet in 1997. She was at the top of her game at the time, starring in her popular “The Ellen Show.”
Why did she take the risk? Because she felt it was important -and healthier – than living in fear or denial of who she really was. The “secret” made her feel as if she was wrong and she knew she was right.
So she came out as the real Ellen and then had her character come out on the show.
She lost her show. No one would call her. She got no gigs.
For three years, she was stripped of all the external factors of identity: no career or the benefits that come with it. Not only that, some of her previous fans berated her and judged her. Christian groups picketed her studio and mentioned God while acting very un-Christian. Studios wouldn’t touch her.
You realize who you really are when you don’t have anything. – Ellen
And then “Finding Dory” came along. Ellen also got her own new talk show. She’s immensely popular all over again. Only now, she has no secrets.
When I was very young (maybe five years old), my mother made rings out of dandelions. She’d pluck the weed and create a knot with the stem and, smiling, put the ring on my finger. I felt special and lucky. Within hours, the dandelion wilted, the yellow flowers tinged with brown. It was my first lesson of impermanence.
We were poor and a part of me knew it, but mostly, I was blissfully ignorant. I reveled in the smell of burning wood in the Iowa autumn. I loved the dandelion rings my mother made and I loved watching “The Muppets” on TV. All of this was (relatively) free. I thought everyone had a father who came home exhausted and discouraged. I thought everyone shared one bathroom in their family. I thought everyone fought over money.
I’m a lot older now and I have learned this: wishing for “stuff” always leads to disappointment. Nothing you can buy will deliver anywhere near the satisfaction of smelling burning wood on a Midwest autumn evening, or watching the “Muppets” on a chilly Halloween night or wearing a dandelion ring your mother makes just for you.
Today, I attended a professional conference because someone believes in me and submitted my name. I felt fortunate all day.
While I was leaving the parking lot, one of the attendees knocked on my window.
“You have a flat tire. Do you want me to help you?”
I wish I could have waved him away, but I’ve never changed one.
“Yes, please. Oh thank you,” I was embarassed.
He took the tire off after much struggling.
Another attendee (who was fortunate enough to park right next to me), offered his assistance, as well.
Long story short, I made it to Discount Tire. They gave me a loaner while my new tire makes its way to me by Monday.
I was able to call my friend for help. She picked my daughters up from school and deposited them in time to the optometrist.
Angels. All four: the mentor, the two samaritans and my friend.
There is negativity in the air, no doubt. But there are good people everywhere. If those two gentlemen had not helped me, someone would have come by. I know it.We all have friends who will come to our aid in times of need.
Let’s be grateful. There are more good people than not.