Two conversations – TED talk

Interesting experience yesterday down at Miss Philly Grill.  Unintentionally eavesdropped on a man sitting at the counter talking about the aunt of a friend of his, a woman in an advanced state of Alzheimer’s, unable to recognize any of her loved ones.

The man had internalized the situation to the point where he clearly SAW himself, years from now, in a similar situation.  He knew one person, not even his own relative, with Alzheimer’s, yet in his mind the one turned into one hundred.  Now THAT’s demented!

Being as bold as brass, I went over & mentioned overhearing the discussion, letting him know that while it can feel like every older person we know has some form of dementia, they actually don’t.  It hit me that he was talking about the aunt of a friend – not his – & was forgetting all the older people he knows who DON’T have dementia.  Or the ones who do & he doesn’t know about because they aren’t presenting themselves as anything other than somewhat forgetful.   Alas, could not convince him that the majority of the elderly do NOT have a form of dementia;  facts didn’t matter because his emotions were fully engaged.

People of all ages are terrified developing dementia, seem to have the fear etched into their brains, worrying about something, giving it a form of BEING even when it is considerably more likely they will be just fine.  What a waste of energies.  And if people who are diagnosed & live with the many forms of dementia weren’t TOLD it was a fate worse than death, things would be so much better for them & for their loved ones.

Tamara Taggart , a Vancouver television personality, shares two conversations ~ the first almost broke her heart;  the second broke it open.

When you listen to the first conversation, ponder how dementia’s depiction as depressing, dark, dire – and about Tamara’s actual experience; hearing the second, reflect on her experience with what has followed.  Which will you think of if someone you love is faced with neurological challenges?  

May these two conversations change your life!

This is dedicated to the ones you love

Today’s writing prompt:  write three letters to three people – a loved one, a friend, someone you don’t know well but admire.  You could share something about them that touches your heart, favorite memories & moments, what you admire about them, and what in their life you’d like to emulate.  You can mail it or just keep tucked in your heart.

Age rage

The last thing this playfulness coach wants to write about is age rage, but the shootings in Las Vegas makes it unavoidable.

Am picturing the scene on Sunday, thousands of young people just off the Vegas Strip, basking in a country music festival.  And high above them, a man less than a year younger than I am, waiting to open fire.

I have looked through many accounts of the tragedy & seen statement after statement saying, “No one knows why he did this terrible thing.  He has no known political or religious beliefs.”  Always, somewhere in the account, is what’s to me the pertinent information that could point to a trigger for lethal rage – well-off, white, 64-years old.

Who were the victims?  Mostly young adults with bright futures glistening in front of them.

An older white male who, according to his family, made himself a tidy fortune in real estate, worries about his mother in Texas after Hurricane Irma –  he sends her a walker.  He gambles regularly in Mesquite, NV, where he recently won a $20.000 jackpot playing the Eureka Casino slot machines.  He is a regular in Las Vegas.  He has an ex-wife, kids & a 62-year old girl friend who’s currently traveling.  His father was a bank robber who made the FBI most wanted list.  And he was 64 years old.

I have to wonder how much that last point was a factor in targeting his choice of victims – over 20,.0000 mostly white young adults crowded together on the 15-acre footprint of a former parking garage, now an outdoor venue that Las Vegas hopes will transform the city into a live-music destination.

Sunday night was the closer of a 3-day country music festival that had, each day, drawn up to 30,000 fans.  Although the site is less than half the size of  another outdoor music venue, it offers something the other lacks – the razzle dazzle of fabulous Las Vegas hotel resorts as a backdrop.  Including, almost 1500 feet away, the Mandalay Bay.

Who will be the first news commentator or reporter to suggest the motive might be age rage?  A white, upper middle class man about to do a back flip into “old” age, recently beset with experiences beyond his control – a hurricane touching his family, a $20,000 jack pot win – with his girl friend on the road.  It has to have occurred to SOMEONE as at least a possible motive for the horror.

America is a tough place to grow old.  Increasing costs, decreasing income, virtually no prospects of finding work with decent hours & a living wage.  Look at the local grocery stores, behind the counters at fast food joints – the faces are as likely to be lined as youthful, as people who were financially wiped out in 2008 & whose homes are “under water” need to supplement their Social Security check with whatever work they can find.

And ageism hits early in the USA.  When I parted ways with my corporate job back in 2001, my resume should have made me a lock for an account exec job – employee of the year for a 1600-personnel company, rave letters from mega satisfied customers, strong written & verbal communication skills.  BUT there was my birth date – 02/07/52.  At 49, I’d been aged out of the job market.

Even someone who made his money through his own wits could feel the weight of his years as a limitation, especially compared to the youthful exuberance of the crowd at the Rt 91 Harvest Festival.

America is no country for old men.  And I imagine that someone about to do that back flip into “old” age could be especially susceptible.

To whom does the future belong?  Not the man on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay.


The Legend of Bagger Vance – BOOK review Monday

Since there at least a dozen quotes from the Will Smith/Matt Damon movie, The Legend of Bagger Vance, that deeply connect with me, it was just a matter of time before I got around to buying the book that inspired it.  I was so taken with getting my hands on it, the author didn’t register.  It wasn’t until I ripped open the packaging & slipped out the book that STEVEN PRESSFIELD leapt out at me.

MY Steve Pressfield?  The writer of The War of Art, Turning Pro & Do The Work, three slim volumes that jazz my brain big time?  YES!

Oh, and the book is a far cry from the film.  Which is good news for both.  Yes, Robert Redford adding gobs of stuff to the film version & left out even more, but it works, which filming the straight story would not.  As Rolling Stone noted in its movie review, Robert Redford cut through what could have come across as “mumbo jumbo” to get to the soul of the story.

Love the movie, love the book even more.

Bagger is black, but that is a minor point.  There’s no shufflin’, no deferential attitude or broad dialect.  Read just the dialogue & the impression you’ll get is of a deeply spiritually grounded, exceptionally erudite person – only the descriptions give away his race.  Which is moot anyway, because it quickly becomes clear to the reader that Bagger could appear as anyone, at any  time – which sounds hokey & isn’t.

It’s clear that Steve Pressfield considers golf not simply a game from the highlands, but from God On High.

If Bagger is the Infinite Divine, it’s possible that Rannulph Junah, the hero of the story, is a bit like Jonah, even Job.

The book unfolds over a dusk to dawn night as a story told to a young medical student, a brilliant scholar-athlete caught in an emotional crisis, by Hardy, the 10-year old who helped Bagger caddy for Junah – now the elderly Dr. Hardison Greaves.

Until reading the book, I had no idea that the twinning of golf & mysticism reaches back many years.  As much as I connected with the movie, the book drives far deeper.  The imagery, Bagger’s lessons, the wild scenes…  I can’t describe too much without giving away more than I want.  It is richly written, wondrously told.

There are love stories, but none active at the time of the match.  The golf course the match was held to save, the island on which it stood, have their own roles in the tale.  The depiction of the games is even more detailed, which should be appreciated by golfers & sports enthusiasts.

Steve does a winning job showing Junah as floundering, rallying, getting cocky, falling apart & regaining his composure & ultimately his True Gravity.

Just as in the movie, the caddie stands by his longtime friend & traveling companion, helping Junah rediscover his Authentic Swing, albeit in more complex ways.

A tale of golf, searching, crisis & redemption.  As much as The Legend of Bagger Vance resonates with me,, a golfer should love it even more.