You have to pick your battles. Carefully watch your karma, and be sincere. Your parents tell you this, your older friends tell you this, and concerned teachers tell you. But by and large, you ignore this wisdom until the lumps and bruises pile up, and you find yourself approaching middle age. You’ll wince the first time you pass these chestnuts of wisdom on to some hotshot intern. It’s on par with looking in the mirror and seeing your father glaring back at you. You know he’s saying I told you so.
Filmmaker Luis Bunuel suggested, “Age is something that doesn’t matter unless you are a cheese.” In part, I agree, but my shoulders don’t on a snowy day when the sidewalk needs shoveling. Karma, good and bad, nibbles at the back of my mind, and sincerity? Well, at my age, I’ve either got it or I don’t. So it leaves the question of what I think improves with age. And I’d have to say it is in picking the battles I want to fight.
There was a time when I’d rush in; now, I cogitate, plan tactics and strategy, and only launch an attack when I am ready. More often than not, I laugh and walk away. Most conflicts are just not worth it.
Occasionally, I feel like counting coup, taking a head, or just being a piss ant. That’d be when I get the fifth call on my cell from some idiot real-estate flack who wants to know if I’m interested in selling to their private investment group sight unseen. I’ll hem and haw, finally admit to the termite problem, the artesian spring in the basement, the giant tree that just fell on the bathroom, the collapsing porch, how the noise from the nearby train station keeps you up at night, and of course, the bats in the attic…then I wander on about my personal problems and the itch in my crotch. But I say, if you are still interested? About this time, he’s regretting calling because, of course, I am hysterical, screaming, crying, and pleading with him to please help me. About this time, he is reading me the number for the suicide prevention hotline and rapidly hangs up. He never calls back.
OK. One thing is better with age; my ability to wind people up without hardly trying. Learn to pick your battles.