Thursday, January 10, 2019

Less and More (Ann)

I noticed something very interesting in the first few weeks of 2019. In addition to running The Best Day of My Life So Far at the Philadelphia Senior Center I also attend two playwriting workshops, and both Best Day and the workshops were much fuller than expected. First Thursdays tend to have fewer people, but last week’s had a good amount of older buds. I think the New Year is encouraging people to join new groups and get back into ones they used to attend.

On the other hand, there are a lot of people who won’t be able to come to Best Day for a while. Ann and Frances have health issues, José couldn’t come last week due to a personal issue, Joe lives too far away, Mike’s art classes conflict with Best Day, and I haven’t heard from Eugene and Mo in a while. My hope is that all of the people who did come to Best Day before will be back in full force once the craziness of the New Year is over. In the meantime, all the extra people joining all these clubs in Philly has already got me feeling hopeful for this year.

Ann Von Dehsen
To My 21 Year Old Self

I recently saw a TV show in which older people were asked, “What would you tell  your 21 year old self about the life they will lead?”
I would begin by telling my 21-year old self, “You have a voice, use it!”
And here is why:
You will realize that you often let others choose your path in life. At 21, you are 
getting married, although you had always planned to stay single in Boston a while longer, but you didn’t use that voice to say, “Um, not yet” and instead thought “well all my friends are getting married and OK, I’m sure I’ll be happy.” You will like the house you and your husband will eventually buy, but you will love and always remember the little bungalow with arched doorways, squeaky floors, and built-in bookshelves. He will say, “No, it’s impractical and needs work” and you are still not ready to use that voice to say, “So what? I love it.”
You will have several relatively happy years of marriage, but slowly, you will become that song, “White bird in a golden cage” until you will use that voice to say, “Enough. I am unhappy and have to leave!” So white bird will fly allowing you to be free to discover who you really are. And you will meet so many different people that you would not have met when you were coupled and only befriended people who looked like you and thought like you and acted like you.
Of course, there will be times of loneliness and fear and brief thoughts of, “Oh God, what have I done?” But you will realize how strong you are and actually learn how to put air in the tires and change the oil, to flip a circuit breaker and install a new float in the toilet. 
More importantly, you will allow yourself to be happy and love again. You will no longer be afraid to take chances resulting in new experiences, new places, and new understanding and appreciation of a world you too often took for granted. 
You will hold so many people in your heart that at times you will feel it might overflow, but don’t worry, there will always be room for more.
And during gray days of sadness, anger, sickness, and self-doubt, remember that you are strong, especially since you have found that voice and know how to use it.
Most of all, relax and your life will be filled with happiness and laughs; “La Vie en Rose.”

And if you want to make a New Year’s resolution of your own, then why not resolve to end senior isolation. Talk to a senior in your life, and if you like what you hear, then share it here:
Our goal’s to get stories from all over the country throughout the year, and you know Philly is full of stories. Introduce us to some cool new people this year!

Curated by Caitlin Cieri