The hotel elevator descended and my elevator companion, a man about my age, held the carnivorous doors open when we reached the lobby. He looked at me and said in a superior tone “You seem in a hurry. That’s too bad. I never hurry any more.”
I hustled across the hotel lobby dragging our wheeled suit cases behind me. Neither Brown Eyes, my wife, nor I know how to pack lightly. Only after I arrived at our rental car did the man’s words hit me. At first I was offended. He was a total stranger. What gave him the right or wisdom to decide what was too bad for me and to say it out loud? Then, invoking my sense of irony-in-full-bloom, I decided he might have been an undigested piece of pepperoni from the night before with a message for me from the Cosmos.
One of the great benefits of travel for Brown Eyes and me comes from how much more often our assumptions are challenged on the road than we allow them to be, at home, in Palm Heights (elevation 14’).
Central to my own assumptions and vitality between 50 and Elderly are:
1. A sense of urgency, enough urgency to provide me with direction, momentum, and the satisfaction of purpose.
2. Doing what I say I will do. Once I have committed you can take it to the bank, so to speak.
Obviously Mr. Pepperoni and I were in disagreement about #1. I don’t know where he stood on #2. The truth is, I can overdo the Urgency Thing from time to time. I have a clear bias for action and often are the times that Brown Eyes will bring up a subject requiring decision or action and I have it already half done before I hear her protests that, yet again, she only wanted to talk about it for now.
“Men!”, she will say, stomping her foot. That said, living with my bias for action and my preference for a sense of urgency means our life is reasonably energetic, far from boring, and we never know quite what will happen next. Not too bad for between 50 and Elderly.
Mr. and Mrs. Pepperoni, I am willing to assume, live with his conscious choice to never hurry again and all its implications for a full, rich life between 50 and Elderly. Therefore, there is a mode other than my own with an equal potential for life satisfaction in this period. Difficult for me to imagine, given my preferences, but not impossible.
So I’m left with the questions: “How much is enough daily urgency?” and “How much is too little urgency?”. In the end I’ve come to the conclusion it’s an individual choice each day. Many of us between 50 and Elderly have lost the external structures (parenting, work, commitments) that provided a sometimes-welcome and sometimes-unwelcome sense of urgency. We’re going to have to develop our own internal sense of urgency and individually monitor it daily so it’s enough but not too much.
My hat’s off to you, Mr. Pepperoni. Thank you for the message. I’ll save "doing-what-we-say-we’ll-do" for another time and column. For now I’m willing to admit sense-of-urgency my way isn’t right for everyone if you are willing to admit my way isn’t “too bad”. Further, I’m willing to live with this kind of urgency diversity if you are and wish you the very best in the bargain.
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Talk to you soon, George