April 29, 2008
From a reader:
April 29, 2008
Real EBay Feedback: “Though you did nothing wrong, I am giving you this negative feedback to teach you that the universe is arbitrary and unfair.”
April 29, 2008
POSITIVE: Item shipped quickly, have been having erotic dreams about seller. Thanks!
POSITIVE: Thanks for great Rainbow Brite lunchbox. Should shrunken head be inside?
NEUTRAL: Excellent communication, but should’ve poked holes in box before shipping the kitten. Refunded.
NEGATIVE: Despite indication in listing, I could not fit item into any of my body cavities.
NEGATIVE: Honda R-Type sticker did not add horsepower as advertised.
NEUTRAL: Item shipped promptly and in good condition, but I should not have to bid on birthday presents from my parents.
POSITIVE: I don’t really remember what I ordered. But I’ve been sitting in the box it came in all day, and it’s great!
NEGATIVE: Product didn’t work, possibly broken. I woke up this morning and was disappointed to find I still believe in Jesus Christ our Savior.
POSITIVE: Excellent Buyer. A++++++. Thrilled by the quartz movement of the “Rolex”. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
NEGATIVE: Should have been clearer that seller only accepts payment in Bhats via Eastern Union Moneygram.
POSITIVE: Plain brown packaging seemed to fool my wife. Thanks!
NEGATIVE: The dog won’t hunt.
NEGATIVE: Very nice monkey mascot costume, but it’s a size 34, not a 63 as advertised.
NEGATIVE: Lederhosen not as pink as the picture led me to believe.
POSITIVE: A+++++. Items are exactly as described. Best case of kalashnikovs I’ve ever bought. Allah Akbar!
NEGATIVE: This is clearly the ninth, NOT THE SIXTH, repackaging of Mad Super Special #24.
POSITIVE: One of the scents mixed in with the packing peanuts remind me of a passionate weekend in Rio… was that you?
POSITIVE: The way you wrote my zip-code makes me weak in the knees. Such smooth strokes. A+!
NEGATIVE: Though you did nothing wrong, I am giving you this negative feedback to teach you that the universe is arbitrary and unfair.
NEGATIVE: Buying this Space 1999 Lunchbox did not fill the void in my empty life for as long as I’d hoped.
April 29, 2008
This is the second in a series. See Transcending Youth, Part One.
There is a correlation between physical health and productivity of the physical or intellectual varieties. To a great extent, our lives are lived as a complex relationship between body and spirit. We are happiest and most productive when we are of a ‘sound mind and sound body.’
As we age, our physicality diminishes and our productivity declines. This is an immutable law of nature. How we respond to this truth demarcates how we actually see ourselves and our value to others. If the singular purpose of the spirit and soul is to feed the physical wants and desires of the physical self, then the spirit and soul also diminish with the aging process. For those who believe that our physicality defines our drive and worth, the quality of life diminishes as well. The self fulfilling prophecy of their decline is inevitable. They become bored, wracked by feelings of desperation, despair and feelings of futility. If however, a person regards the body as an accessory to the spirit and soul, aging invites the growth of the spirit and soul, independent of the body’s capacities. The are examples of retired persons flourishing, chasing dreams and doing the kinds of work they could only dream of in their younger years. Doctors retire and go on to Africa or open clinics. Retired lawyers go on to build houses or teach kids how to read. There is no shortage of examples of what can be done even as our physicality wanes. In fact, exercising our spirit and soul has long proved to be the tonic for a diminishing physicality.
Still, we need to really understand aging. The process we will all face is about more than the denial of that process and the inevitable war waged between the body and spirit. There is more to the aging and the passage of time than the struggle between our physical needs and desires and our spiritual needs and desires.
We live in a culture and society that assigns productive and non productive phases of our lives. For the first couple of decades of our lives, we get a free pass- we are not expected to achieve anything, at least not in the adult sense. Our lives are guided by others. Those years are spent in school, amassing knowledge, acquiring the rudiments of a skill and learning the rules that govern our society. For the following 30 to 40 years, we are on stage. Our skills, ideas and creativity are given a stage of sorts. Some of us aspire to do our job well. Others put in time only and are productive only as much is necessary. All in all, we are expected to take over those who have preceded us and are now passive. We are also expected to prepare those behind us to replace us.
Our culture and society dictate that we are supposed to take our now honed skills, knowledge and creativity and put them away because we are getting older. As a certain birthday approaches, achievements are to be arbitrarily put on the shelf. Overnight, the older person is moved to the sidelines of life. Any creativity or ideas that still bubble over are meant to be directed into harmless pastimes. The ‘twilight of our lives’ are meant to be spent in mindless and meaningless endeavors. Once we reach a certain age, we are supposed to believe that time itself has less value. We come full circle, back to our childhood. We are not expected to really contribute. As in childhood, we are told what is best for us. Our still valuable potential to do, achieve and mentor is packed away in boxes and put into permanent storage.
As we noted, there are individuals who choose a different kind of aging, but they are the exception and not the rule. Our culture exerts might forces on us to behave in certain ways when we reach a certain ways (4:00 PM Early Bird specials, anyone?)
For a very good look at how our society and culture views aging, see Laurie Kendrick’s Home, in which she poignantly describes a visit to her childhood home and her description of the people and places she once knew. Her remarks offer a remarkable contrast between her life and the lives she left behind, as well as her perceptions and the perceptions of others:
Then I saw people I knew. Or people I once knew.
I didn’t know these versions of my “life shapers”–people who were so instrumental in helping me create the person I’ve become. They were people I knew as a kid: adults, teachers, parents of friends I’d grown up with. Their faces were in so many photographs of my memory–but not these faces. I didn’t recognize them. Who were they? What happened? They had the audacity to get old. And they had the temerity to hammer that point home by their blatant use of hearing aids, wheelchairs, canes, walkers…senility.
In truth, we can (and should be) productive throughout all our lives. Of course, we don’t expect the same kind of productive life from a child a we do from an adult, but that has to do with the capacity and ability and not expectation. Some children go on to succeed and excel because parents have an expectation of productivity. Some retirees go on to exceed and excel because they place certain expectations on themselves. Those who believe they are expected to lead productive lives throughout their lives are happy people. They get to take with them their achievements, wisdom and skills to make a difference in the lives of others till the day they die. With each day, there is more real work to be done, more necessary work.
Adults who are overwhelmed with the burdens and tests of life often recall their childhood, longingly. They think of that time, with no responsibilities and no obligation to be productive as a Garden of Eden. Of course, those people often forget that even as children, they wanted to be be productive, creative and real. An unwritten truth of the ages is that a child who is appropriately challenged and charged with responsibilities will flourish. A child from whom there are no expectations will be a passive and unproductive child. This should come as no surprise because a lack of expectations defies nature. From the moment a child is brought into this world, he or she desires to achieve. The infant learns he or she can influence surroundings. Parents are stimulated to respond and display affection and the desire to learn is unstoppable. Children of whom nothing is expected are denied their nature. They will become depressed, dysfunctional and rebellious.
That same reality applies to aging adults. The notion that non productivity can be a fulfilling experience also defies nature. Every human being understands that happiness comes about as the result of meaningful and productive contributions throughout his or her life. Simply ‘passing time’ is not the same as productivity, no matter the manner in which that time is passed. Throughout our lives, a certain truth is remains unchanged- the more we challenge ourselves to find an outlet for our creativity and productivity and to make a meaningful contribution to others, the happier we are.
At no point in our lives are we meant to be passive. We are endowed with creativity and the desire to be productive because creativity and productivity are perhaps the most important part of the human condition. Creativity and productivity are essential to who we are as a species. We are designed to explore, to challenge and to achieve and not just survive. We meant to improve our lives, our world and the lives of the people around us. These truths do not change with the passing of a birthday or mandatory retirement. The drive to achieve, explore and progress is no less real or powerful than the drive to survive.
The drive to achieve and to be productive is another of the unique characteristics that define what is to be human.