Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Human Element
As technology continues to progress, we see our lives changing right along with it. One thing many people bemoan is the almost universal death of the banking system where you had a regular cashier who always remembered you and a bank manager who personally approved car loans and the like. Banking is no longer the social activity it once was.
Today, the ATM doesn’t care how your family is doing and if the arm you sprained in a fall a few weeks ago has healed. All it wants is for you to tell it exactly what you need. And most banking transactions are now be done over the phone or on line so you need not step out of the house.
There is a lot to be said for being able to get to your money at any time of the day, any day. That’s certainly a bonus when you remember that only a few short years ago we had to bank within the constraints of dealing exclusively with our own branch and only at certain times.
Many of us “older” folks prefer to deal with a person rather than a machine because we sense intuitively that there is a benefit to interacting face to face with other humans in our daily activities.
As I see it, one of the dangers of technological progress is that people might become more and more isolated. I’m certainly not against making our lives easier especially on days when we may feel under the weather, but if it means human contact becomes the exception rather than the rule, will society not have to pay a price eventually? 
It has been proven that societal elements are required for our well-being; does it not then follow that the more we replace human contact with machines that we are putting ourselves at risk emotionally? To me, the answer is that we must compensate by making certain that we do interact with others each and every day. The human element is becoming a priority that must be cultivated with care.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

A Question of Age
As they say, age is just a number. Depending on how you define age, of course.
            Children say: He’s old; at least 30. Teens say: My dad’s old; he’s 50. Boomers say: She’s not old; she’s only 65. People in their 90s see those in their 70s as spring chickens. Perspective, Perspective. Perspective.
            Definition of sixty: sixteen with wrinkles. Think about it. The body may be aging but we still feel much younger inside, don’t we? The man had the right idea when he said: I’m 63 now, but that's just 17 Celsius.
            Recently, I heard two women chatting as they waited in line next to me at the grocery store.  One of them told the other that her granddaughter was about to graduate from college. That prompted the remark: Already? The answer: Yes, but my son is older than me!
            Loved that remark. The woman winked and smiled ear to ear as she said it. Made me think of my answer when I was asked my birth date recently. I answered that I was born on January 1, 2000. That stopped the man in his tracks. He didn’t know how to handle it, didn’t want to call me a liar, so after a moment he continued as if it was surely the right date.
            Did you hear about the man who wanted his wife to drive more carefully? He told her that if she had an accident, her age would be included in the news report.
            One of my sisters has always lied about her age. We siblings all know it and accept it. Outsiders are baffled. One day when asked her age by a cousin my sister simply replied: I really don’t know. I’ve been lying about it for so long that I really don’t know how old I am.
Not a bad idea if you ask me.
             As the saying goes, age is a quality of mind. If you no longer look ahead then you’re old, but if from life you take the best, no matter how the birthdays fly, you are not old. As a wise man I know says, you’re only as old as you think you are, so forget the number and think of yourself as chronologically gifted.
              I try to do just that, but sadly I’m getting much too gifted much too fast!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Looking Back
I’ve often thought that everyone should be born with an instruction booklet for the life ahead. A booklet that would tell us the end result of each of the many choices we all face along the way. Then we would be certain of choosing the right road, of doing the right thing. Of course that is fantasy.
As we age, there is a tendency to examine, and reexamine, our lives, to wonder what would have happened if we had opted for the road not taken. Would we be better off? Happier? Of course, we’ll never know because we traveled the way we chose and we have to be satisfied with that.
However, short of having had an instruction booklet, we must acknowledge that our instincts and intuition have guided us along the way to what was meant to be.
Some years back a colleague told me that while engaged he met another woman and somehow knew that she was the one he should marry. So he followed what his gut was telling him, broke his fiancée’s heart and married the new woman. They have been tremendously happy ever since. But so has his first fiancée who married a man she had once dated. 
            I think we can pay a price for not following our intuition. After being divorced, a friend confided in me that when she was walking down the aisle of the church in her wedding dress and saw her husband-to-be in the front her gut told her that it was a mistake, but she went ahead with the ceremony anyway. Would it have been a movie, she would have turned on her heels and rushed out of the church, but it was real life and she thought about the money her parents had spent and all the people there. Because she didn’t want to make a scene she paid the price. The marriage lasted only a few miserable years.
            In a movie I saw recently, Lauren Bacall complains to her daughter, Barbra Streisand who has moved out, that an old woman should not be left alone with her thoughts. The point, of course, is that revisiting one’s life is a risky endeavor. There is no point in chastising ourselves for the past and what should have been. I believe that we should simply acknowledge that we did our best and leave it at that.
            Besides, perhaps the Universe was keeping an eye on things and making sure we would make the right decisions – the ones we made.


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Summer Shapes
Summer is great after a long, cold winter. We shed coats and sweaters and go sleeveless, and replace jeans with shorts, and boots with sandals. And we feel the joy of total freedom. We can walk faster because we’re not weighed down with clothing and there are no icy sidewalks!
            However, there is one drawback to light clothing: flaws have nowhere to hide. The world sees the real you whether, like me, it is varicose veins in the back of your legs or an ugly scar on your upper arm.
            But what I find is most evident in summer is the extra pounds people carry, a fact that is mostly hidden when we dress for colder weather.
            Recently, I was in a large mall and found myself people watching as I sat waiting for a friend to join me. I could hardly believe the percentage of people who carried extra pounds. And I am not talking about a few pounds we all seem to put on as the years pile on. I’m talking about massive poundage, often as protruding bellies or wide rear ends. It is not pretty! Especially when people choose tight clothing.
            But I think there are ways to improve the look these people project. For one thing, as far as I am concerned really overweight people, whether male or female, would benefit from staying away from knits, especially tight t-shirts. However, if one’s arse (as the British tend to say) is wider than two regular theatre seats, you owe it to yourself to consider wearing flowing garments. As I heard a woman telling a friend not too long ago: I took a good look at myself in the mirror and realized that soon a tent would be the only thing that would fit me. I decided it was than time for me to spare people’s eyes and trim down.
Great idea. Not only would overweighed people look better in summer apparel, they would be doing their health an immense favour.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Because I live near water, in my world summer means boats. All kinds of boats, from canoes to small fishing boats to impressive inboards. There’s even a boat that can take two dozen or so people across from one side of the lake to the other for a few dollars, a trip that takes almost a half hour. 
            As I was walking along the shore one day recently I saw a gentleman in an electric-powered mobility chair approach and easily manoeuver the incline of the ramp to the boat. I suspect this was not the first time he was making the trip!
            What I found interesting was that he had a wide smile for everyone else on board as he greeted them.  He cannot get around easily, yet he did not let that prevent him from smiling, enjoying life and taking a nice boat ride on a glorious summer afternoon.
            Would it not be great if everyone made smiling a priority instead of frowning as so many people do? To quote Charlie Chaplin: “You’ll find that life is still worthwhile if you just smile.”
            I certainly agree, but these days it’s especially important to smile because you never know who is taking your picture since everyone seems to have a phone that is also a camera. Or perhaps someone is scanning your face with facial recognition software. We are told it is useful for a variety of reasons from public safety and security to people counting, but I am sure someone somewhere will find more nefarious uses.
            Not much we can do about it as technology continues to progress at blinding speed. So smile as you enjoy life because you never know when you’ll be on camera, candid or otherwise.