Give and Take

By Georgie Bright Kunkel

Sometimes life doesn’t seem to be fair. Pain, suffering and injustice lurk at every turn in the road for some people while others seem to escape most of the hard knocks of life. I, myself, feel that I have escaped the misery that befalls many of my older friends. But when I look back at my own life, perhaps I have paid my dues in my early years. Born into a very large family after my own father died I experienced second-hand pain since my mother shed tears for many a day while I was still very young. It took me a little longer to find my way in life than some other people but once I discovered who I was to become, I took off like a rocket.

People often come up to me and say, “My, you are lucky that you are still looking so great and you seem to have no big problems.” I reply that I really bluff a lot. And what is life but bluffing hard times and the pain of body discomfort and concentrating on the positive aspects of life. I would hate to give in to sadness and discomfort so that it identified me. As I have often said, “You get back what you give.” No one wants to be around anyone who complains or blames others. Yes, I do realize that someone else’s downturn in life might be happening at the same time that I have risen above my own downturns. So I need to be patient with those around me. They cannot define my life for me or give me advice that originates from their own experience. I have to define life in my own terms and make of it what is the best for me.

Recently I heard a woman tell about her experience with breast cancer—the shock of knowing and the actual operation with reconstructive surgery that followed. She used this experience to ponder her life and found ways to strengthen her own inner resources. After her own recovery, she counseled others who were just entering this experience and needed solace and understanding. This kind of give and take cannot happen in a vacuum or while tapping on one’s I-phone. There is no substitute for the gentle hug and the handshake or the calm tones of support when one is in need of such support.

This is one reason that most days I get out into the world of acquaintances and friends. Lately I have been dancing as often as I can. I play the piano where people enjoy my playing and sing every chance I get. Women usually outnumber men in later years so if there is a woman who adheres to the belief that she can’t dance unless some man asks her I urge her to dance a little rock and roll along with me. Life is too short to worry over outmoded protocol. I say take a chance at expressing yourself and if it doesn’t infringe upon anyone else’s right of way, go for it.

I save everything and have old address books from years back. Sometimes I take them out and call to see if some friend that I haven’t heard from in a while is still around. And if my address book has too many crossed out names, I make sure that I make enough new young friends to take their places. Of course they can’t take the place of my memories but they may appreciate my wisdom as I appreciate their youth and spontaneity. We all need each other. We also make our own lives. If we don’t reach out to others, we can blame no one but ourselves for feeling lonely.

Wow, with that said, I will now look up the email address of that young fellow who once acted on the stage with me in a Harold and Maude skit. He is now in Chicago studying comedy. If he ever becomes famous, I hope he invites me on stage to do comedy with him once more.

Georgie Bright Kunkel is a freelance writer who can be reached at or 206-935-8663.

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