Thursday, May 5, 2011

Second thoughts about second thoughts

In 1981 I wrote in the Preface to my book Second Thoughts: "I talk to people. I talk to God. I talk to myself.  Sometimes the conversation with myself isn't very long, deep or even mannerly. Usually it is about something that bothers me. Then, after I've had time for reflection and study, I put my second thoughts about the subject of that conversation on paper." 

In this book I attempted to articulate for readers the puzzlements, joys and concerns we all share about life.  The writings,  most of which had been published previously in some form, represented a cross section of my searching for truth, changes in my thinking, and my affirmations  about Christ and the church.  I offered them at the time with the hope they would cause  the readers to have second thoughts about them.

As an octogenarian I am having second thoughts about aspects of life I have written copiously about earlier when I was looking ahead, not backwards.   Not always did I have answers, but I had questions. Even now I don't have a lot of answers, only a lot more questions.

I have often said that too many people  write about aging before they are old, based on  what they have gleaned from research -- about  the "normal" face of aging, about the "average" old person.    Many of these so-called experts haven't actually lived even sixty or more years.  What is it like to be over  eighty and  to know that the number of years ahead is probably a fraction of what I have already enjoyed? That is a subject I want to explore in these second thoughts.  Join me in the discussion.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Octo-thoughts about weddings

As an octogenarian I have attended many weddings.  Recently we had a wedding in the family (David and Jennie's in New Orleans)  and with millions of others, I also watched the wedding of Prince  William and commoner Kate Middleton.   You have to admit the British know how to do weddings.  The pomp and circumstance, adherence to tradition,  both good and overdone, is impressive.

I didn't get up early for the actual wedding, but I did watch in the evening.  The bride was beautiful in her gown that didn't cater  to trends in dresses. You know what I mean.  The groom was handsome and his brother equally so.  Real hunks.

But, oh, the hats!   I am thankful we no longer wear hats, but there was a time when a woman didn't leave the house without her hat.  Down in the dumps?  Buy a new hat.  A celebration of some kind?  Buy a new hat.  I saw hats at that wedding on TV that would give me nightmares with their strange arrangement of antlers or feathers.   One hat I am sure needed a permit to be attached so strangely to the wearer's head.  There were others that looked as if they might sprout wings and fly. And still others, if they were worn in a theater, would have the usher asking the wearer to please remove her hat.  But now it's over.  And a commoner has become a princess.

There were constant comparisons between this wedding and that of Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981.  One person commented that it must be difficult for William and Harry  to understand that everyone loved their mother except their father. 

Every young girl wishes she were a princess at some time in her life, at least to be a little beautiful.  I remember when I was about 15 or 16 I was a princess for an evening.  In 1939 in our little village of Blaine Lake we held a mock coronation and an ice carnival.  Marguerite Perrin reigned as queen and Fern Horner and I were princesses.  The other two girls were dark-haired beauties.  I had only mousy-blonde hair. I never knew how I got into that lineup.  We wore  floor-length tiered  crepe-paper dresses over our woolen snowsuits and thought we were beautiful.  It took little to satisfy us during  the  penurious 1930s.  If I knew how to insert a picture, I would.  I am learner at  blogging. But an octogenarian, like an old dog, can learn new tricks.

But back to weddings. Syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts writes that a wedding is an act of faith and defiance.  "To get married is to make a bet on always and forever. To stay married is a function of will and work, even more than love."  He comments that Prince Williams parents' marriage began as a fiary tale and ended as a horror story. But he was ready to stand up in church and make promises.  And that is what about it is all about -- standing in the face of everything that militates against marriage and family and saying "We're going to try again.  And that's what it takes.