Salma Hayek told Oprah a story: When she was 10, there was a neighborhood flasher. This man accosted her and exposed his full frontal nudity. “I was terrified, just so scared…” She went home and told her grandmother who then gave this advice (Hayek offered a disclaimer – she is by no means telling little girls they ought to do this) BUT…
“The next time that man flashes you – even if you are terrified and alone – LAUGH at him. Point at his groin and LAUGH.”
The man DID flash her again. And little Salma stopped. She felt her entire body tighten with fear. But she remembered her grandmother’s advice. So she stared, pointed at his groin and laughed.
“He ran away, he cowered and ran away!” Hayek says, still incredulous.
An important skill taught in Driver’s Education courses is to keep one’s eyes where one wants to go (the safe place) and not on obstacles that one wants to avoid. For example, if your car starts to skid out of control, don’t focus on the tree you’re afraid of crashing into, but on the open road. If you focus on the tree, that’s where you’ll end up.
In life, that tree can be a metaphor for the last decades of our lives. We tend to focus on fears such as, “What if I don’t have enough money to retire?”
We live in a youth-centered society. We don’t take care of our elderly very well. So it’s no wonder so many of us fear growing old (despite the fact that it’s inevitable if we don’t die first).
When we choose to stop focusing on aging (and limitations), and start focusing on The Possibilities, fascinating things can happen:
Annie Proulx, this year’s winner of the National Book Award, and author of Brokeback Mountain and The Shipping News, did not start seriously writing until she was 58. (Bigthink)
In the middle of his prolific career as inventor and businessman, Thomas Edison’s plant was burned down by a fire – all of his work was gone. What was his reaction?
“Although I am over 67 years old, I’ll start all over again tomorrow.”
And he did, the very next day. He didn’t even let any of his employees go. Edison and his team made $10 million the very next year. (BusinessInsider)
Don’t forget that stress and complaining are choices. Complaining is a form of denying reality*. It also makes you sound like a victim. You don’t want that, do you?
Below are my drawings for today. They are incomplete. I helped my daughter learn how to drive today. Someone honked at her loudly as she paused at the red light, uncertain if she should go or not. She got stressed. And then we went out to help her buy her boyfriend a birthday gift. She worried it wasn’t enough. I assured her that her thoughtfulness in choosing the gifts was what really counted.
I am now at my other daughter’s high school concert. When all is said and done, I will have been here with her for six hours. I didn’t get to complete my drawing or get my workout in or get any holiday shopping done. Oh well. But I did get to have a wonderful lunch with her between two concerts and talk about everything she wanted to share with me. We ate and talked and ate and talked and then we had enough time to buy makeup from Target before going back for her final performance.
It’s all good. I’m grateful I can do these things – be completely present for each of my daughters…and be completely present while I draw my funny-looking lizards.