“Inaction is not an excuse for failure to thrive.”


“Inaction is not an excuse for failure to thrive.”

I’ve noticed lately that a lot of people my age tend to simply stop. They stop doing fun things, they stop being involved, they stop thinking and growing intellectually. They just stop. Then they sit about and complain about how boring life is, how hard it is to do things they used to do, how much they wish they had done such and such before they got too old. They are failing to thrive in the late years of their lives. And there is no excuse for that- period.

I know, things are a bit harder to do when knees hurt,backs don’t want to bend, and the body gets tired much easier than it did at the age of forty. We all have to slow down,but that doesn’t mean we have to stop. It may take longer, but there is no reason not to at least try.

Years ago there was a movie entitled Cocoon followed by another, Cocoon Returns. If you haven’t seen them, I suggest watching them at least once. It starred a lot of “stars” who were getting quite elderly. All stuck in a nursing home, waiting to die, fussing at one another, etc. Until things change due to a visit from the aliens. Look, I know it is really a sappy story, but what I loved about it was the willingness of almost all of the elderly folks to embrace that which was different. If their youth didn’t return, their joy for life certainly did. And, at the end of the day, their inaction became action, and their lives infinitely better.

Another movie I loved was Driving Miss Daisy, a stellar performance by one and all. Again, another character that defies the tendency to just sit down and stop. Fried Green Tomatoes is a fantastic film. Kathy Bates and Jessica Tandy were great together and the flashback between Mary-Louise Parker and Mary Stuart Masterson is equally dynamic. At the end of the day, we are still not sure which woman Jessica Tandy was as the elderly friend of Kathy Bates. Ambiguity saturates the film, while turning Katy Bates’ character from a meek doormat into a woman filled with confidence. And, of course, the character played by Shirley Mclaine in Steel Magnolias is just like I want to be when I get old.

I see many older folks off and doing things all over the world. They travel, explore, serve missions of compassion – regardless of sore knees and aching backs. They move, act, and they live every minute of every day. That is what I want to do too.

When our youngest son went off to college, my husband and I decided to work our way around the world. Eight years later, we finally returned to the US. As we were raising our granddaughter, she went right along with us. We lived in London, Hong Kong, and New Zealand, and only came back to the US due to health issues and the awful Socialized Medical care in NZ. We traveled all over each region and were enriched many times over by our experiences.

But I was in my forty’s when we did that. Now I am sixty, and it is going to become more difficult to do some of the things we did. So, we chose other things to do so we could travel. A cruise or four, a road trip across the US, and our big adventure this year is to travel across country by train. I don’t hike for miles any longer, but I sure can sit and enjoy the view from the train.

So there is no excuse not to thrive, people. Just get up, take a few steps, find a hobby that fulfills you, volunteer as a surrogate grandmother to rock babies at the hospital. Volunteer at the schools or libraries to help kids with their reading skills. Go help out a nursing home if you have a talent like playing the piano. There are a multitude of things you can do to overcome the lack of inertia and sedentary inaction. For me, being with my grandchildren is one of my greatest motivators. I write, I hang out on social media sites, I keep up with friends and work on my family history, and I am planning on taking art lessons. I have always wanted to learn how to paint. That will be so much fun!

So, you are old, so what? Inaction is not an excuse for failure to thrive. Just because your body is starting to creak and moan, it doesn’t mean your brain isn’t functioning. (Unless you have a serious condition, of course.) With all the medical miracles out today, most of us will live well into our eighties or nineties.

I have a friend who is ninety-eight. For the several decades, she has traveled the world following the performances of the operas of Wagner. All on her own, she would jump on a plane and off she would go to Italy, France, Germany, or any place in the world that the operas were being performed. What an amazing lady

who just kept on going like an Eveready Battery. She is running down now, but she is still in control of her life and decided to go home until the end of her days. It is heartbreaking, but at the same time, what a life she has had! Even now, she keeps busy with doing her family history and chatting with her friends and family.

Even if you are homebound, unable to walk, unable to drive, so what? There are a million things you can do to keep your brain healthy and busy. Never just stop and wait to die. We all have a finite amount of time here in this life. I could spend it worrying about death, or I can just get on with living while I am still here.

The more we let inaction rule our lives, the less likely we are to live a long life. Not just because our bodies need to move to function well, but because our brains atrophy at an alarming rate. Inaction is not an excuse for failure to thrive. But it is only you that can take that first step. I can’t wait to become a feisty old woman who says exactly what she wants to say about everything.

Come on people, get up, find a cause, reason, purpose, or passion to fill your life. Go on!

 

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Cinema Junky


Jake walked into the cinema on a hot summer afternoon. It was the first time he had ventured into a theater in a very long time. He had forgotten the tactile and sensory impact, along with the ephemeral ‘something’ that enveloped him as he walked in.

Entering the lobby one goes from the blinding bright heat of the day, into a dimmer, cool world complete with neon lights, music, and chattering people. It is almost a shock to the system, when he take his first deep breath, the aroma of popcorn, hot dogs, and chocolate overwhelm the olfactory senses, and his mouth starts to water, because deep inside, we all know that a good movie deserves good popcorn and soda.

After garnering the prerequisite treats, he headed for the theater inside the giant building. Used to be that the theater was one large auditorium that showed two movies in a row. The coveted place to sit, for anyone under 20, was in the balcony. Little kids loved the front row of the balcony so they could throw popcorn down on people and be as obnoxious as they could until the ushers threw them out. The older kids loved the back row of the balcony where they could cuddle and kiss in the dark. Things have changed, however.

Jake wandered down the corridor to the door marked with the number 16 and an LED sign that ran the name of the movie over and over above the door. As he stood waiting for the cleaning staff to let him in, he realized the same smell existed in the building as it did in the old cinemas of his youth. The slightly dusty smell of carpets combined with a hint of urine, spilled drinks, and too much cologne slathered on by both males and females surprised him. It felt comforting, because it was so familiar. He always wondered why, even if the restrooms were in perfect order, the slight tinge of urine always lingered creating a piquant note to the warm oder of the salty popcorn.

Entering the theater auditorium used to be a big moment. Walking into the hushed semi dark atmosphere, down a aisle with lights embedded in the carpet at the end of each row, searching in the darkness for a special seat or one’s friends, and scooting into the middle of a row over knees and packages were part of the ritual of going to the cinema. Back in the day, people chatted, crackled paper, crunched on ice, and babies would toddle up and down the aisle until the parents finally got them to settle down. Today, however, there are the added benefits of commercials on the screen, blaring music and announcements, and the ever present cell phones beeping, squeaking, and lending bright light to the darkness.

Jake sat down in his favorite place, center seat, center row of the theater. He always counted rows and seats before sitting down to make sure he was dead center in the room. That way he was able to see and hear everything while ignoring the noises from the other patrons. Cup of soda on his right, popcorn nestled in his left arm, he settled back to enjoy his favorite part of any movie, the previews of coming attractions. Lights go down, music is cued, and with each preview, the sound gets louder, until, at last, the main event lights up the screen. Cue the dramatic music, action sequence to introduce the story, and the outside world goes away for two hours or so.

If the movie is good, Jake gets sucked into the story and action, never hearing or paying attention to his noisy companions. If the movie is bad, or boring, every little thing about his neighbors annoys him, sometimes to the point of complaining to management. It paid to have a reputation as a grumpy old man.

With the high cost of attending the cinema, a cost he has seen double over and over again since the days he could spend the entire afternoon at the cinema and spend less than a dollar, Jake didn’t go as much as he used to. Watching a movie at home on all the new gadgets and gizmos was, eh, okay. But, it simply didn’t have the magical feeling of a theater. The anticipation, the aromas, the feeling of isolation and distance from the every day world, were only experienced in an honest to goodness cinema. As expensive as it was, Jake had to get is movie fix once every few months. It wasn’t the movie he saw that mattered so much, as it was the experience of the mysterious world of the cinema.

When the movie ended, he always stayed to see the credits roll by. Generally, there was a theme song that played along with them, so he sat quietly watching and listening as everyone bustled around grabbing up their items and debris as they headed out. Jake was almost always the last person out of the theater, annoying the cleaners at his delay. Head still wrapped up in the story, he would slowly wander down the corridor to the exit.

It was always a shock to the system to realize that the world had kept on going while he was away in the mysteries of the cinema. The lobby seemed too bright, loud, and full of people. The aroma of popcorn wasn’t nearly as enticing, and, depending on the time of day and year, he knew once he opened the exterior door, he would step back into the heat or cold of the rat race. It always made him feel tired and ready for a nap. Regretting the cost, he, once again, made himself a promise that he wouldn’t spend that kind of money on a wasted afternoon. He could, after all, see the movie at home in a few months.

Of course, like all addicts, deep inside, Jake knew that he would be back as soon as a new movie came out that just had to be seen in a theater to gain the most from the story. At least that is what he told himself. It was better than admitting he was a cinema junky.

Cinema Passion


Some people go to the movies because they are bored. Some people go because the kids are driving them crazy and it is too hot to send them outside, or they refuse to go outside. Some people, especially teenagers, go to hang out with friends and to see the hottest, new movie. Not that they actually watch the movie with all the socialization going on between them. Some people go to the cinema out of habit, and some because it is a particular genre they enjoy. There are some people who actually go just to be entertained. There is, however, a breed of cinema goers who are in a class all their own.

These are the people who have a true passion for movies. Some of them are passionate about certain actors, making it their business to know all the statistics about each and every one in every movie they see. They can recite chapter and verse about all their favorite actor’s parts and quote, line for line, the dialogue from their favorite scenes. They are fanatic about every detail of the character, and will argue endlessly about what scene in what movie was the best scene for the actor they adore.

Another group passionate about the movies is the technical fanatics. They love to go to the movies and pick apart the special effects, point out the obvious continuity flaws, pour over the scenes and pick out tiny mistakes on the set, or, in some cases, huge flaws. In this group is the sub groups of Sci/Fi technical fanatics who have read every book in a series, like Lord of the Rings, and love to note what scenes have been left out, combined, or changed beyond all recognition. They are passionate about the story, but also the way in which technology was used to create the movie. They will sit and watch the credits to the bitter end to see who did what in the movie.

There are people who are passionate about the whole movie experience, regardless of the genre or the technology. These are people, of which I am one, who have grown up in the cinema all their lives. Going to the movies is as much a part of who we are as anything else in our lives. Some of us can quote favorite lines from movies, know every word to every song from the musicals of our youth, and have favorite actors, but aren’t fanatic about them. Children of the cinema love the ambiance of a large screen, dark auditorium, and the expectation of the movie bursting on to the screen with sound and color. We are the people who get annoyed at the whisperers, bag rattlers, ice crunchers, and crying kids because it ruins the show for us.

The children of the cinema have certain rituals that must be observed. Buying the ticket, the popcorn, the soda, and sometimes candy are an important part of the process. We can hardly wait for the previews of coming attractions so we can plan for future cinema experiences. We wait with excitement for a new movie to come out so we can find ourselves involved in a new story that will make us laugh, cry, jump in fear, or feel romantic. The cinema is an escape, a place where we can leave our worries of real life behind and live in a fantasy world for a few hours. Knowing, however, that soon we will be back to dealing with life as usual.

Even leaving the theatre is something of a ritual. Waiting for the final credits to roll, the last note of music to fade, we gather our detritus, and depart as the lights come up in the room, are all part of the encounter. Children of the cinema blink in the bright lights of the lobby as we make our way out into the real world, already dissecting the movie, and comparing it to others that we have seen as we plan the next sojourn into the magic that is our passion.