I’ve made an important life decision: I want to be very, very much trouble until the day I die.
I think I can pull it off, too. In fact, I don’t even think it’ll take a lot of effort. All I need to do is NOT try to NOT be trouble and there I am.
I pulled a book off my shelf the other day because I wanted to lend it to a friend. It’s called Talk and it’s by the NPR correspondent Susan Stamberg (published in ’93 — I picked it up at a used book store years ago). In it, Stamberg provides excerpts of some of her favorites interviews over the years. And since Stamberg is a big old art-head, it’s full of her talks with artists, musicians, writers and other creative types (in addition to various politicos and other people who were important in the news during her career).
So I wanted to reread the interviews I was telling my friend about and then I got sucked in — so much so that the book that I was already reading (and am in love with) has been sidelined for a bit. Several of the interviews crystallized this whole trouble thought for me — which was a thought I’ve always had but never totally labeled until just now.
The book contains several interviews with older women — no, let’s not call them “older.” They were flat-out old when Stamburg spoke with them. Examples: Francoise Gilot (Picasso’s lover and the mother of two of his children), Mary Hemingway (Ernest’s fourth and last wife), Brenda Ueland (92-years old at the time of interview — she was a writer and may be the most passionate and honest person I’ve ever come across).
Yes, some of them were most famous for their associations with their famous husbands or lovers. But more often than not, these ladies were also artists in their rights. And they lived big. And when they were old they were full of the proverbial piss and vinegar. They still had a light in their eyes. They were quick to laugh and often laughed at their own jokes (hey! I do that!). They were confident, unapologetic, didn’t waste a lot of time with pretense and they were full to the brim with experience and the wisdom from really living. I definitely got the feeling that these women were probably often considered trouble by the people around them — that is, they weren’t too concerned with what they were supposed to be doing, instead, they did what they wanted.
There’s a thread that runs through most of these women’s lives that I really relate to. Life changes. Sometimes you have to reinvent. I think most of us think that the way life is is the way it’s always going to be. There are a lot of people trying to set some baseline for “normal” and when that’s set, there’s the mindset that you can just cruise from there and live out your day-to-day.
But we’re all kidding ourselves if we think that our lives are going to hit a certain level and stay that way. Time marches on. Things change. People around you affect you.
So you have to be resilient. And what I love about these ladies is that they looked at opportunities that arose and considered them — really considered them and not in an “if only …. ” sort of way. Because life is much more malleable than many of us believe. There’s a lot more room for growth, for adventure and for change than many of us allow ourselves.
Howz about a little Trish weirdness for you? Why not?
As I’ve mentioned a couple times here on the bloggity, I took some meditation classes last spring and I had a few kind of freaky (non-drug induced, I assure you) experiences. In one of them this quiet old lady just showed up in my head. She was sitting on some rocks with her legs bent and her arms wrapped around her knees. She had long hair — gray with some streaks of leftover dirty blonde. She was skinny, but not in a frail way — she looked like she could get up and go hiking if she felt like it. She had an angular face and deep-set eyes (similar to my paternal grandmother) and she looked somewhat familiar. I looked at her face more closely and realized that I knew her — because she was me. (Yep, once again I realize I sound like a kook. I’ll plow on despite that.) It was a very, very odd, uncomfortable , almost scary but amazing thing to realize that I was looking at me. Anyway, it was clear that this lady knew a lot, even though she was quiet. She was almost imposing, exuding an air of wisdom and amusement (as if she understood that her presence was freaking me out a little) and … fulfillment. Like she knew everything I would ever want to know and had done everything I’d ever imagined — and more — and was completely content just sitting there on those rocks in that moment. (More Trish weirdness: This wasn’t the only time Old Lady Trish has shown up. She made a surprise reappearance in another meditation later on. That’s a story for another time.)
I’ve thought about Old Lady Trish a lot since then. Sometimes when I think about certain situations I imagine what advice Old Lady Trish would give me. I don’t want to disappoint her — because while I get the feeling she knows some laugh-out-loud stories, she also seems pretty no-nonsense. Like she’s saying to me, “Now is the time. You know who you are. You know what you need. Choose carefully. Be precise. Live your life well. No more detours.”
So I’ve got big shoes to fill. And I’m up for it. Here’s are some things I think Future Trish would tell me to do:
1. Live in the moment. Savor every minute, every experience. Give each minute your total attention.
2. Surround yourself with great people. Learn from them — everyone has something to teach.
3. Love passionately and fearlessly.
4. Look your children in the eye when they speak to you. Don’t be limited by what you “can’t do” because you’re a parent. Instead, recognize your children as learning partners in this life. Expose them to everything you can. Teach them and learn from them.
5. Extend a hand when someone needs it, even if that person is a stranger. Be the person your friends can call in the middle of the night if their worlds are falling apart.
6. Turn off the TV. Don’t spend so much time on facebook. (Really, Future Trish? Did you see my massive facebook binge last night? That didn’t please you, did it?)
7. Read everything — highbrow, lowbrow, whatever. Dig in. But don’t waste your time on a book that bores you — there are too many other good books out there waiting for your attention.
8. Say yes more than no.
9. Don’t be derailed by inconvenience or by fear of failure.
10. Travel everywhere.
11. Spend time outside.
12. Try new foods.
13. Laugh a lot. See the humor in everything.
14. Never stop learning new things.
15. Never stop making new friends — always be on the lookout for that next person you can fold into your life and vice versa.
18. Make your own rules. There’s no way that you “have to” do anything.
19. Know yourself but don’t define yourself so precisely that you have a list that begins with, “I never …” Give yourself room to surprise yourself.
20. Don’t give a hoot about what other people think about you. (This one gets easier every year.)
21. Don’t fight aging. Look for its abundant gifts.
Damn, Future Trish. You are so wise. I want to put all of your wisdom on a coffee mug.
All for now, blogmuffins. Go forth. Ask your Future Self for a little guidance. Live. Hugs from me.