From B.C. to Star Wars, that's where I was taken as I awaited the programming of my car's spare key. 'Ellen,' a vital "87 years old," sat down in the plastic chair beside me. "That thing a computer?" she demanded, pointing at my iPad. I acceded. She held out a newspaper and pointed at the crossword: "Who wrote the cartoon, B.C.?" I typed in the phrase, and J. Hart immediately showed. "Of course," she stated, "I knew that," and her story began.
Children are “doomed”. Society is doomed. "Glad I have no grandchildren!" Neither of her two sons had had children, and the one had been married 25 years! The "impending Cascade Plate earthquake"; the "xenophobic reactions" to “global take-overs (I have a big Oxford dictionary at my desk, as well a little upstart one" she averred); and the inability "anymore" to leave doors open; "to allow children to go play outside"; all of it, conspired to impel the future to doom.
The keys to longevity and health lie in vitality. One readily intuits that much. Thing is, in the intermittent periods between our years, between paradigm shifts, between leaving one room and entering another (where 'waiting is like silent action' as we may take on someone else's words, ideas, ideology, contentions), there can be days, weeks, years. It is in retrospect that one sees the chronology of another's life as seamless. ‘Ah, your husband fought in the Second World War while you were a WAC, in the women's army corps. And then this happened, and then that.’
Our own lives may seem too trivial on this petty path from day to day. The hurtle from home to work ("compared to the old days"); the sheer volume of media coursing through our senses (compared to a time when “a single newspaper was precious”); the incredible ease with which we divorce and remarry and blend families and "expect everything to be given to us, well, life is just not what it used to be! Nowadays we lock up everything!” Yes, we lock ourselves inside the cages we make for ourselves. We lock ourselves inside our heads. “Yes, we lock up our hearts! We are selfish and myopic and moribund! ... Now then, there's a word for you to look up!"
There are Facebook placards of 'Life Back When it was Simpler'. There are youngsters, even now, who agree that our world is doomed. The issue is one of "preponderance". (She twinkles at me: "See," she exclaims, "I love my dictionary!") Eight billion people "are suffocating our planet. All those cars! All those mouths to feed!" (She leans in closer, looks about to ensure no one is overhearing,) ... "All those toilets! Euw! ... And ne'er you mind the extraterrestrials!"
My wife and stepson have lunch with me (about a week after my typing these first five paragraphs) and we choose a spot by the window, where it's quiet. We've not been together for several months, and we look forward to a pleasant conversation. But the workmen arriving at a nearby drink-less fountain commence drilling and pounding and hammering and yammering, and the din is so great that we, and others at nearby tables, raise our voices too. Interestingly, Keith, at 31, says he hardly notices it. But it is enough for Linda and I to seek relocation.
Intrusion has many guises. The neighbour's knock. The car passing by. The telephone jangle. The new beeps from the computer. The stranger who engages. We lock ourselves away, or not. And the key to it all (if peace be 'it'), the key is certainly not necessarily ‘vitality’. Vitality can have one moving and being grumpy and being disturbed, even in our longevity. We each have hidden clauses; (and Jo and Hari see things in us neither of us sees). No, the key to peace is to accept, to change what one can, and to let the rest go. Life unlocks itself. (Now then, where’re my keys? Ha!)