By Georgie Bright Kunkel
Yes, I know you are aware of the youth culture. The airbrushed images in magazines are impossible to match in real life. So look young or die. But I am still hoping that the focus on science and technology which has always vied with wisdom and human experience for attention will finally take a back seat for a change. It is the old struggle between yin and yang, male and female, dominance and submission, the world of business as compared to focusing on human enlightenment and nurturance—you name it. If you don’t fit in you are out of it entirely. Unless you have young skin wrapped around a youthful body you are out of the loop.
The other day I visited a friend who is near my age. Unlike me, she has spent her every waking hour out in the weather working in her rockery garden. We hadn’t seen each other for many years and we both undoubtedly looked older. But since I write along with my other endeavors which keep me mostly indoors, I have not succumbed to the effects of heavily tanned skin. I know, sunning is great for getting more vitamin D but there is a price to pay for long exposure to the sun’s rays. Meeting my old friend after such a long separation was much like the experience of meeting someone at a high school reunion that one had envisioned as young and beautiful after not seeing them for many years. In real time we both looked our ages.
Years ago we spent the first summer after our first year of teaching bicycling around the Olympic Loop from Chehalis to Shine. Not many people remember the little town of Shine which could be reached by ferry before the Hood Canal Bridge was built. My bicycle was a so-called boy’s bike with the bar across and no low gear so uphill was a real challenge. I can remember singing my favorite song Tangerine all the way around that long trek. One day we went at least 90 miles which was a record for both of us.
Today young people think nothing of going halfway around the world to Nepal or other faraway places to “find themselves.” But for two young women of my generation to head out alone was unusual. Our last night on the road we paid $6 for a room in a small hotel which had a women’s side and a men’s side. It originally was a place where mostly men workers stayed overnight. Yes, we had proven that we could survive on a road trip.
I must say that my leg muscles were very strong after years of bicycling. I recently mentioned to my daughter that I wanted to ride her new bicycle. Our role reversal resulted in her refusing to allow me to ride lest I fall and break my bones.
I still have a fair sense of balance but knowing what has happened to several of my friends lately who have broken bones and are now recuperating in care centers I am taking the conservative approach. So instead of daring to return to bicycling, except on the stationery bike at the gym, I am finding the recipe for lifting my spirit in other ways.
- Never lean over and look into a mirror.
- Always go on a date at a candle lit restaurant.
- Wear a hat over thin, graying hair.
- Make younger friends when your old friends die.
- Never leave the house without your spirit shining out of your eyes.
I might even do a sequel to my Tea with Georgie program that I presented a couple of years ago. Anything is possible.
Georgie Bright Kunkel is a freelance writer and public speaker who can be reached at 206-935-8663 or firstname.lastname@example.org.