I heard retired Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North speak at church on a couple of occasions, and what he had to say about getting old was amusing and meaningful.
He reiterated several times that he had “turned off the filter” now, meaning he says what he thinks and sometimes does not think about what he says. A list that came across my email recently is a compendium of what those of us with more past than future are going through right now. To wit:
After loving my parents, my siblings, my spouse, my children, my friends, now I have started loving myself. I just realized that I am not Atlas. The world does not rest on my shoulders.
I now stopped bargaining with vegetable and fruit vendors. A few pennies more is not going to burn a hole in my pocket, but it might help the poor fellow save for his daughter’s school fees.
I pay my waitress a big tip. The extra money might bring a smile to her face. She is toiling much harder for a living than me.
I stopped telling the elderly that they’ve already narrated that story many times.
The story makes them walk down memory lane and relive the past. I have learned not to correct people even when I know they are wrong.
The onus of making everyone perfect is not on me. Peace is more precious than perfection.
I give compliments freely and generously. Compliments are a mood enhancer not only for the recipient, but also for me.
And a small tip for those of you who might be the recipient of a compliment - never, NEVER turn it down; just say “Thank You.”
I have learned not to bother about a crease or a spot on my shirt. Personality speaks louder than appearances.
I walk away from people who don’t value me. They might not know my worth, but I do. I remain cool when someone plays dirty to outrun me in the rat race. I am not a rat, and neither am I in any race.
I am learning not to be embarrassed by my emotions. It’s my emotions that make me human.
I have learned that it’s better to drop the ego than to break a relationship. My ego will keep me aloof, whereas with relationships I will never be alone.
I have learned to live each day as if it’s the last. After all, it might be the last.
I am doing what makes me happy. I am responsible for my happiness, and I owe it to myself. Happiness is a choice. You can be happy at any time you choose to be!
Why do we have to wait to be 60 or 70 or 80 to realize these responses? Why can’t we practice this at any stage and age? The answer, of course, is we can. We just have to choose to do so. And with all the uncertain things happening around us right now, perhaps it is time we turned off the filter and just say what we mean before we think about what to say.
Alan Clark lives and writes in Estill Springs for Lakeway Publishers, Inc., with newspapers in Winchester, Tullahoma, Manchester, Tracy City, Fayetteville and Lynchburg. You can also catch up with his “auditorials” via podcasts on Apple Music.