Looking Back

By Georgie Bright Kunkel

A new year, 2014, is upon us. No better time than now to contemplate the life we have lived and learn from our past. They say that if one does not learn from one’s mistakes one is sure to repeat them. But we no longer have a village sage to assist us in making decisions. The elders of the village community have been replaced by the gurus on the internet, some making sense and others spewing out garbage. To sort the wheat from the chaff, as they used to say, is a problem in our information society. Our lives are filled with advertising to convince us to buy this and buy that in order to be slimmer,
healthier, happier or whatever. Even medications that are riddled with side effects are advertised by young vigorous people on the screen who seem to have no fear of anything as the music lulls us away from the voice announcing the dangers of using this medication. Even though doctors prescribe, the medication costs more because it is advertised to the consumer on TV who is supposed to ask the doctor for a prescription.

My mother feared medicine and would never take any until she was told by her physician that she had high blood pressure. She went to the doctor for her checkup and he wondered why her blood pressure was still so high. He discovered that she was cutting all the pills in half because she feared taking them. I inherited this fear of overmedicating myself. I didn’t even start drinking or smoking because I didn’t want to become addicted. Just think how much money I have saved by not taking any medication except a .81 aspirin and never buying liquor or cigarettes. I never buy clothes retail. I never buy frozen pre-prepared meals. I never expect to buy another car. I never fly around the world anymore. My entertainment is going to the Open Mike comedy and Open Mike poetry which doesn’t cost me anything because I perform.

What do I see looking back at my life? They say everything happens for a reason so whatever I did must have prepared me for the next phase of my life. I hope that I have kept my promise never to gossip and never to over indulge in any way. Not sure that my chocolate craze counts. And I am taking my own advice in making new friends as my old friends disappear from the earth. And when someone says, “You don’t look a day over 75.” I take it as a compliment. I once sang the mother role in Amahl and the Night visitors when I was in my forties and got away with it.

I play school teacher by telling stories to school children whenever I am asked. And I am breaking the mold which once shaped older women to sit on the sidelines. Don’t ever write me off, you hear? I am not only looking back but looking forward to all the things I haven’t yet accomplished. I am getting messages from my younger friends that they look to me for being a model of active aging. That’s what every age is supposed to do, be a beacon for anyone younger. Don’t be seduced by the airbrushed pictures in magazines of perfect beauty or the TV stars with a bevy of servants preparing them to face the camera. Being real is often under rated in our beauty culture.

So looking back I find that everything that I thought or did was preparing me for the next phase in my life. I am not finished even yet. There is much more to experience and much more to accomplish. Fortunately, only the memories that are important to my future remain clear to me. The other memories have faded away to be replaced by newer experiences. Life continues to amaze me and I love it.

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