(Just noted this draft I long ago stashed away that I wrote after reading the piece I reference below. My observations about our nation and the world still seem to be apropo.)
Others often write thoughts that stimulate my own resulting in my composing comments the equivalent of another post. Such is the case with Ronni Bennett's piece titled,"Aging Into Sentimentality" 11/23/09 at "Time Goes By."
I can certainly identify with growing up in a home where stoicism was considered to
be how one best coped as I observed. I do recall a few instances of being told "Don't cry, or I'll give you something to cry about" but I don't recall any physical punishment. I think I probably had my bottom paddled on occasion when I was little. My Mother told me of switching my little legs all the way home from three houses away where I had gone without permission to visit my young friend. Perhaps these are a couple of environmental contributors to my having a high pain tolerance level, maybe it's genetic, or both.
I also learned to look for the best in others, sometimes to my detriment when I too quickly gave the benefit of the doubt to the intentions of another.
Perhaps when we are older we simply have more time or take more time to ponder some of the matters Ronni and others comments describe. Certainly we’re more aware we’re moving toward the end of our lives, so I think it’s to be expected that most of us will begin to think more about our lives in quite different ways from when we were younger. I know when I reached about forty years and through my fifties I was really heavily into very egocentrically examining my life. All this when I was striking out on a new career path while simultaneously having more demands on my being than at any other time in my life.
Perhaps any major life change, once life seemingly settles a bit, can have us, suddenly, after the fact, starting to think about such matters as described there. Perhaps there’s a certain amount of relaxation occurring that allows erratic thoughts once inhibited to be released. Emotions held at bay then become more accessible, can emerge much more readily. I experienced that after my mother died, when later other major life changing events occurred for me, but in those instances the emotions didn’t emerge until quite some time afterward.
In recent years that sensitivity began happening immediately after my husband’s death beginning when my son arrived home. I continued to project strength outwardly to most others but my feelings became incredibly sensitive as was my vulnerability to the slightest kindness, exaggerated beyond all that was rational. I had never been on such an emotional roller coaster.
I believe sometimes as we get older the tears and strongly expressed emotions are not always completely about what they seem, or what we and others may think. I suggest the apparent surface cause can be primarily only the trigger reflecting much deeper sources erupting from composite forces of life’s residue.
I don't consider compassion and empathy for living creatures being maudlin or sappy when a core deep within ourselves is tapped. I've felt this way about animals and increasingly about other creatures for as long as I can remember. Allowing outward expression of such feelings can be cathartic though I'll grant you not always best anywhere at anytime, or with just any person lest they be misunderstood. Further, if you're not too rational for a period, you best be interacting with someone who knows you well, and realizes you're only in a temporary discombobulated state.
What I'm most acutely aware of avoiding for quite a few years are stories about young babes, children, fictional and true, books and movies that entertainingly show the pain adults inflict upon them including parents, other family members, friends and strangers. I become tearful and angry at the emotional and physical abuse to which these innocents are subjected. I never wanted to read Frank McCourt's book, “Angela’s Ashes” about his Irish childhood partially for just that reason. Likewise, I never went to see Steven Spielberg’s movie “Schindler’s List” in a big screen movie house, only, finally, renting the DVD years later as I had feared there would be too many broken family scenes and worse. “Sophie’s Choice” haunts me still as does the movie from my childhood, “Bambi” with the gut-wrenching scene of Bambi seeking his Mother. Many movies in recent years seem to feature young children, youth and teenagers being subjected to all sorts of horrors judging by their ad trailers.
With all the wars around the globe I think how horrible this must be for children. When I consider all the nation's ills, the world's wrongs I seem to have arrived at a state that allows me to be aware of my own limitations to effect change, and likely not immediate under most circumstances. I perceive I'm looking down on a picture much larger than myself, that much desired change is going to be more gradual that I like, very possibly may not even occur in my lifetime. Yet, I remain dedicated to doing whatever I can in my small way to facilitate the change I desire. I try to avoid becoming permanently discouraged when it doesn't happen in the way I might want, especially as rapidly as I might wish, sometimes much easier to say than do.
Referring to history can help put the current reality into perspective when viewed in comparison with life in other times. Most generations have had legitimate reasons to think their situation and future was dire, much worse than that of previous ones, especially if they had known better times in their lifetime, yet here we are. Sure, we can look back and say, "Oh those times are nothing like what we have now." Probably so. I wonder what those in our unknown future will say when they look back on our time?