An Over the Hill motto crocheted on a sampler pillow reads...
Use It Or Lose It
I find it offensive that this line is said with a smirk and aimed at the elderly, the Over the Hill gang. I know a few younger folks who don’t USE IT and act as though they have already LOST IT...and I would humbly suggest an amendment to everyone’s personal constitutional...to exercise...their brains, their creativity, their imaginations, their innate skills to learn a new trade, to polish up an old one, to invent a way to set this wobbly world right.. right back on its axis before we all fall off in a stupor and a shout of surprise.
Dementia, demented behavior is possible at any age. Cemented regimented rote unquestioning uncurious uninterested listless survival at the end of a leash being pulled by another is a sure fire way to end up in need of a rescue.
At the bottom of a hole yodeling a simpering howl...how did I get here? Help me! I have fallen and cannot get up.
Oh yes you can.
Not only can you do it, but you might invent say, the portable escalator, or hologram elevator, or collapsible Ron Popeil-like pocket rope ladder. Maybe dust off your design pencil and sketch out a new excavating technique for underground trains.
Perhaps even sit down on the ground at the bottom of the hole long enough to look around and Voila! discover a never before discovered type of flora or fauna, a creepy crawly bug that will lead to research and a breakthrough to end the ravaging rage of a debilitating disease.
The point is to get your hands dirty. To tamp down the sound of your own wailing voice long enough to ask not...how did I get here?...but how will I get myself out? A helping hand is lovely, but when the hand is your own, slapping your forehead as a light bulb flashes overhead and an idea takes shape…
Now that is the best answer to every question.
How can I help myself?... always leads to... How can I help others?
So...what to do...what to do...
Put down the GPS.
Do you know that police report a large majority of distress requests on their scanners is from people who are lost. And the high end of that demographic? Young people who have grown up on GPS and cell phones and are so busy looking down that they miss landmarks, road signs, their directional bearings, relying on technology rather than their own perspective, their own eyes and ears to travel from here to there.
Cannot locate the nearest Starbucks, let alone name the cities 100 miles in any direction, the names of countries within their own hemisphere or beyond their borders and across the seas.
Again. Put down the GPS. Make an old fashioned road map. Start with an X marks the spot HERE. Your heart will tell you where to put the THERE. Then lean back and close your eyes.
The road trip. The walking path through the jungle or the zip line through the rain forest. Assess the terrain. Prepare yourself for the journey. Be sure your body is well nourished and your canteen is full to the brim. Don your comfortable hiking shoes and shed the accessories. And whatever you do, pack a flashlight and extra batteries to help with your night vision and to scare away the scaries that lurk in the shadows.
A word of caution.
Do not think of your travels as moving from Point A to Point B. That is not a life changing move, that is simply changing the channel on the remote. You have relied on your upper digits too long to acquire information. What you seek is not on your phone or on the Internet or your IPad. Besides, at the bottom of this hole, this very hole you are in, the WiFi connection is lousy and even if you stand on top of your devices, your elevation and elation will only improve a few inches or millimeters.
There is an “I” device involved, to be sure, but that I is the I in You.
I is for Instinct.
You have it. Trust it. That is what instincts are for, they keep us safe, keep us focused on what is good for us and away from what is not.
Oh and tunes. Learn how to hum loudly, so that if you think you need roadside assistance, you can differentiate the good samaritans from those who seek to trip you up or suggest a dead end detour.
As you set out, think of HERE as Number One and THERE as Number TWO. Because any mathematician will tell you that there is an infinite number of infinitesimally small steps in between.
The hardest step is the first. Scratching the surface. Securing a toehold. Reaching up, looking up, eyeballing the next move. Take it. Move. Move. Move. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
But for heaven’s sake, do not expect a ginormous marathon cheering crowd along your path, as those who think they know you well, will be surprised to see you go. They may not like it terribly much. For, you see, they liked you for the way you WERE and they cannot see the pinnacle of the climb, as you do. That’s okay. You don’t have to convince THEM of the seriousness of your journey. You only have to convince YOU.
I promise. I truly do, that as you move onward and upward, side to side, over across down and through, you will bump into fellow travelers. They may walk alongside you, or wave as they pass headed off in a different direction.
I am not being flippant.
Not trying to preach.
I am asking you to be serious.
To take your life seriously.
To grab it with both hands and dig down for the unlimited potential that resides in you.
Regardless of your age, your ethnicity, your country of origin, or your ability to read a map. Or not.
Creativity of the mind is a gift, of which we are all blessed.
Curiosity is a gift, as well.
The best and brightest, the most prolific of inventors, designers, innovators, and creators, fall and fail. They expect it. They embrace it. It is merely a checkmark on their long list of endless possibilities.
But for each, the end result, the goal is to be better.
To shed light.
To do good work.
We need each other.
I need you.
Pull the cord.
Bon Voyage Mon Ami.
Adios Amiga Mia.
Hasta La Vista.
Ha det bra.
Aloha...which means hello and good bye all at the same time.
I’ll miss you because I am the one watching you leave, but I am also one of your biggest fans, and I would love a postcard from your journeys...if you have the time…
And if you need a night light,
cut out this little light bulb, and pin it to your lapel.
Signal fellow travelers that YOU are part of...
...the Light Bulb Project...