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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Skip to M'Loo

Have you seen anyone skip recently? Does anyone over the age of nine skip? And yet skipping is surely our most joyful form of locomotion.


So why don't people skip these days? Well, I think it's all about the shoes! The best shoes for skipping are leather-soled oxfords. You can't skip for very long in sandals, and certainly not at all in Birkenstocks and their relatives. You can't skip in high heels or wedgiesand it's hard to skip in boots of any sort. The ridged soles of sneakers grip the sidewalk too well for skipping.


A society that doesn't skip is a sober society indeed. In the first place, think what a good exercise it is. Run 20 paces. Now skip 20 paces. Which one gets your heart going? And skipping adds that jouncy little bounce-to-the-bones that encourages the bones to be strong.


But leave aside our fitness obsession. Just remember the joy of skipping. You can't skip without smiling. Laughing, even. Skipping takes you back to your best, most innocent self. Skipping fosters joy for its own sake.


Lauren Bacall said, "You know how to whistle, don't you? Just pucker up your lips and blow." It's hard to condense skipping to such concise instructions. "You know how to skip, don't you? Just stand on one foot and give a little hop and skid and land on the other foot and then hop-and-skid with that one and so on." It definitely doesn't have the punch of "pucker up your lips and blow"—but don't let that stop you! Go out there and teach someone to skip!


Who needs rollerblades or a Segway? If you can skip, you're only a hop, skip, and jump away from happiness.



Copyright 2008 Ann Tudor

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Nonsense, nonsense

The bowl ran away with the spoon, which sounds a bit flighty, unless you knew the bowl.


Holy cow! What came after couldn't have been forestalled, given the filthy kitchen floor that was at the bottom of it. From the moment she saw that floor, she wanted to attack it with mop and sudsy water. But stone the crows! It wouldn't have sufficed to use a mop. This floor needed a brush or two, and it definitely needed the old hands-and-knees treatment.


But the bowl had had enough of that sort of thing. And the spoon remembered being on the floor once, having been thrown from the highchair tray by a charming but "I'm-2-and-don't-you-forget-it" toddler.


Even without the floor, it seemed like a good house to get away from: screaming toddlers, haggard mothers—the whole ball of wax.


But jeepers creepers! Where were they to go, this bowl and this spoon? Tom Robbins had already written the book about the traveling quartet (what? a red stick? a can of beans? a spoon? what else?) and he hadn't invited these two. Okay. They'll create their own story.


The bowl and the spoon,

on the way to the moon,

looked back at the kitchen floor.

How filthy it was.

It needed some Duz.

So the two of them walked out the door.


Copyright 2008  Ann Tudor

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Aging: What We Take with Us

First, let's make a list of what we might take with us:

--our experience

--our memories

--our hopes

--one CD (and what one would THAT be?)

--a sandwich in case we get hungry (if you're off wheat, take a slice of grilled polenta, or just tuna salad in a bowl)

--lots of water (in a non-leaching container, of course)

--some fear. (Don't forget your fears. Sometimes it's your fears that actually keep you safe. But don't overdo it. Take only a few.)

--a capacity for learning

--a capacity for opening

--a capacity for compassion

--curiosity (if that's a hard one for you, then fake it till you make it)

--as many books as you can carry

--as many poems as will fit


And where are we going? To the Land of Old, of course. You remember, don't you? That's always the final destination. (Some people drop out before reaching the Land, but it's still the goal. Depending on how well you do in the Land of Old, you might be able to stave off the inevitable for a while.)


I've been thinking lately about the Land of Old. It's a sly place with porous borders. For years you go in and out of it almost at will. You experience one bit of the Land of Old and then you cross the border back to what you think of as your Real Life and everything is fine again. In and out. In and out. Nothing to it, you say. I can handle this. What's the big deal?


And then the border closes. I don't know what the mechanism is or how they know when to close it completely. But at some point, as you jauntily go into the Land of Old for a little visit, the border ceases to be porous. You can not return to the other side.


Well, of course you panic. You had thought to visit here, not to remain here. It's like being caught in a very large Hav-a-Heart trap. You can see out. You can see others still living their "real life," the life you thought was yours forever. But you can't join them. The borders to the Land of Old have trapped you. Forever. Well, not forever. But for the rest of YOUR life.


And, just a sidenote here, you had better enjoy it quickly. For the moment the Land of Old is relatively uncrowded. There's room to move around in. There are still people willing to help you. But appreciate this space now, because within a few years all those baby boomers are going to be trapped in there with you. And boy! Are they numerous. And boy! Will they ever be angry at their fate! They'll be all over the place. The Land of Old will be a madhouse. The boomers will be whinging and moaning and demanding their due. "Let us OUT" they'll say. "WE are eternal youth and we do NOT belong here!" So that's just a word of warning. Enjoy the spaciousness of the Land of Old while you can.


Be sure to take with you all the things on your list. This means you must carry them with you at all times, for you won't know in advance just when those borders will close. You'll think you're out for a picnic and you'll discover that your freedom is gone. So take with you your memories. Your books. Your poetry. Your compassion. Your openness. Take your curiosity with you wherever you go.


You definitely don't want to live in the Land of Old without the items on your list.



Copyright 2008 Ann Tudor