Sharing

The other day Todd told me a joke. After all our years together, I figured I had heard all of his jokes. But after he finished, I told him that I was sure he had never told me that one. He laughed and said that maybe he still had a few secrets after all. Consequently, I began thinking about secrets and sharing.

I think many people would probably agree that one of the best parts of marriage is sharing life with your best friend. In new marriages there is, I think, a sense of mutual conspiracy and an underlying touch of pity for the rest of us poor schmucks. Anyone else’s love is obviously not as wonderful as theirs. A wedding card I saw recently stated: “The fragile threads of love and sharing sew people together through all the years of marriage.” I didn’t buy that one.

Sharing everything sets up in our minds an ideal: that if two people really love one another, then they must always tell each other absolutely every detail and secret. But once one has been married for awhile, one realizes that there are at least a few things you don’t know about your partner. I think that’s true no matter how long you have been together. For instance: the real thoughts in his head as he drifts off to sleep – you can guess, but you don’t know for sure. You want to believe that you really know him, that the person who is closest to you is completely knowable. Maybe this boils down to a need to feel protected from the complications and hazards of real life, in one’s own small perfect space. But does a couple need to share everything?

The idea of complete honesty and sharing in a relationship presents a lovely picture of how two people can live in harmony forever. The problem is that in order to be kind to one’s partner, and maybe in order to sustain the relationship, maybe sometimes it’s necessary to keep some thoughts to oneself. A person who cannot tolerate secrets in a relationship, who then in the name of ‘being honest’, shares information that might be so wounding that it can never be forgotten, is no friend of love or marriage.

How could you ever sit and enjoy a sunny afternoon reading a book, or cooking dinner, or holding a simple conversation if you knew absolutely everything your partner was feeling at any given time? Obviously I am not referring to an affair or anything like that. But perhaps your partner has hidden things for his own reasons. He has hidden it, perhaps the way you hide precious things that are particularly precious to you. Maybe we all need a few secrets, some things we don’t necessarily share.

The joke he told me the other day wasn’t his best one. But, if you ever run into Todd, have him tell you the one about Mimono, the wrestler. It’s a great one to share. In my opinion it is without a doubt the best joke of all time, and Todd tells it supremely well.

Optimism

I’ve heard it said that the pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.

Some people have undying optimism. I think that I do. But it can be dangerous. For one thing, it’s naïve. I think that sometimes optimism is partially the desire not to face facts, because facing facts might require action, and sometimes people have trouble with the action part. I do. Facing facts can mean admitting how powerless you really are. Sometimes facing facts means acknowledging failure. So you keep “trying”. You, or maybe I, keep seeing the glass as half full maybe because one of us is a coward?

Todd found this optimistic dandelion blooming in our backyard yesterday, January 7, 2020. I want to be as optimistic as this dandelion. Therefore, I am fervently optimistic that our country will not stumble into another war, and that by next January Donald Trump will no longer be President.

New Year Ahead

Incredibly, it’s the end of another year, which brings the inevitable question: Have you made your resolutions yet? I always make a few, but they’re usually pretty standard. Last year, I challenged myself with some loftier ones. Today I read back over the ones I made on this blog last year. They were good ones, though, to be honest, I was not all that successful keeping them. So I am going to make them my resolutions again for 2020, and try harder to stick to them this year.

The first resolution was to push fear away, and to try to figure out my life purpose. I promised to let myself off the hook and stop feeling guilty about the things that are out of my control. I resolved to make more of an effort to let go of fear, anger, guilt, and regret. I also resolved to keep telling the people I love in no uncertain terms just how much I cherish them. I actually think I’ve done pretty well with that one.

Those resolutions are all keepers, but I am also going to add a few new ones. For 2020 and beyond, I am going to stop saying, “I’m sorry” for things that don’t require an apology. It’s a bad habit I need to break. I also resolve to continue to refuse to become the invisible older woman, even as life sometimes seems to push me toward that more and more. Just because I am getting older does not mean I can no longer create and grow. So another one of my resolutions is that I want to live as fully in the years ahead as I did when I was younger. As I reflect on my joys, despairs, and accomplishments, I will continue to share my stories, thoughts, and maybe even a few bits of wisdom. I will write and make music and laugh and dance and sing, and maybe even try a new thing or two. Our society is steeped in ageism and sexism. So as a woman in my late sixties I consider it a challenge, as well as a resolution, to be a small part of forging a new Feminist revolution, helping combat both those things.

I hope that my resolutions about fighting ageism and sexism will become part of my own personal legacy for my daughter, granddaughter, and daughter-in-law; that they don’t have to fear growing older, or feel the need to beat back the clock by any means necessary. For one thing, you just can’t, no matter what you do. I resolve to try to show them how to age with grace, even if they don’t even realize that’s what I was trying to do until after I’m gone. I want to be the mentor for them that I always wished I had. Years ago, I regarded old age as something way down the road, stretching years and years beyond me on some far away and fuzzy horizon. Old age only happened to other people. Remember ‘Never trust anyone over thirty’? My only excuse for that is that I was young, naive, and stupid. When I look in the mirror today I am forced to admit that I am a long way beyond both thirty, even though I feel pretty good most days. Hey, it’s great to be 68. I resolve never to forget that.

With 2019 ending and 2020 dead ahead, I believe that everyone needs some kind of faith, though not necessarily a religious one. Everyone needs faith that even though the world seems more and more full of evil, the girl will be able to escape the tower, the big, bad wolf will die, and that even those poisoned by malevolence can be restored, not to innocence, but to righteousness.

I like this quote from the writer Neil Gaiman: “May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness… I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art – write, draw, build, sing, or live as only you can. And I hope somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself. ”

I ended my New Year’s post last year with my personal word for 2019: dogged. I promised “to be dogged, to keep striving to live better and fearlessly, to resist getting angry at all those things that are out of my control, to leave regret and guilt out of my vocabulary… to be dogged, to never, ever, ever give up.”

I still like that word, and those goals. So I think I will give that resolution another shot this year. In 2020 I am also going to try to remember the words of Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Happy New Year to all!