The Washington Times-Herald

January 5, 2013

Today a new day

By Andrea McCann
Washington Times Herald

WASHINGTON — A friend made a Facebook post recently that said “Life goes by in the wink of an eye. Appreciate this day.” It struck a chord with me because lately I’ve been thinking “When did I start getting old, and how do I make it stop?!”

There are still things to do, places to go and people to meet! Until recently it’d never occurred to me that I might not get to accomplish many more things I want to do, or visit a few more places I’d like to see. But now, with today’s economy and my pay rate being what they are, Tuscany, Costa Rica, Belize and many other places where I’d like to travel, look like they’ll remain daydreams.

My birthday in the fall and the holidays that follow always seem to bring on those thoughts of aging because I remember past holidays spent with family no longer with us or who are grown up with families of their own now and doing their own thing. My holidays seem to be the reverse of what I think they should be, with fewer people around instead of more. Families are supposed to grow, right?

And then there are the aches and pains associated with aging! I’ve been hard on my joints through the years, and they’re paying me back now. I’ve noticed this year that winter weather has caused some aches I didn’t notice during the warmer months. What will it be like in 20 or 30 more years?!

I’m certain I’ll do what I always do and paint a silver lining on those dark clouds as they appear. I’ll keep plowing through life — slathered in joint-pain-relief remedies — accept where I am at any given time and make the most of what I’ve got. And though there are things I long to do, I fully realize I have a lot: My parents are still living; I see my only sibling regularly; I have a lovely, responsible daughter; I’m employed; and I have generally good health despite the aches and losing a gall bladder and some (benign) polyps last year!

I’m trying to learn to be patient and to live in the present, to not focus so much on the future and what it may or may not hold. However, it’s hard not to anticipate things like my daughter getting married and spoiling grandchildren someday. There are still so many things to look forward to.

And I’ll try to put a little money aside for domestic travel — there still are plenty of places in the United States I haven’t seen. My friends are scattered throughout the nation, so maybe I’ll make a bucket list of friends to visit and combine some sightseeing with those trips!

One of my favorite Facebook pages is dedicated to sarcastic, snarky comments. I like it because I can relate and it makes me laugh. However I’ve surprised myself in that I’ve really grown to appreciate the pages devoted to positive thinking. The two types of pages combined keep me upbeat.

That can be quite a task in today’s environment of mass murders and child molesters at every turn. Sometimes I yearn for the days of more limited technology when those horrors weren’t broadcast everywhere almost as they happen. That said, maybe it increases awareness and there will come a day when society recognizes a whacked-out murderer and someone will come forward to report it before he or she takes the lives of innocent people. Maybe the Mike McQuearys of the world will step up and stop the Jerry Sanduskys on the spot.

It’s kind of amazing how much one small act can impact a person and how much further that impact can extend to others, creating a domino effect. Whether that act is one that propagates kindness or cruelty is up to each of us as individuals.

A simple compliment may brighten a person’s mood, encouraging him or her to “pay it forward,” making another person’s day, and so on, in a benevolent chain reaction. By the same token, a malicious comment or action may throw a person into despair, spreading misery and hopelessness in a depressing chain reaction.

But make no mistake; taking no action is still an action. It allows unconstructive thoughts and harmful events to persist, which ultimately is destructive to us all.

I’ve read of the linkage among our lives described as a nuclear reactor, a powerful source that can be used to sustain or destroy life. We can work together to create peace, or we can work against each other and cause destruction.

In the words of one of my favorite singer/songwriters, the late Dan Fogelberg: “You know that everybody has a voice, and how they use it is their own free choice. In your glory I will not rejoice, if you choose the ways of war.” Of course Fogelberg was literally writing about war, but I think this applies to daily living. Perhaps if we lived this on a small scale every day there would no longer be wars.

I’m not really naïve enough to believe that, but I will say: “Let it start here with me. Oh let mine be a voice for peace.”

I guess this is my rambling way of saying that despite the feeling of time getting away from me, I refuse to be negative. I will continue to stand up for what’s right, and I plan to try my best to appreciate every day in this new year and beyond, and to circulate that positivity as much as I can.

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Andrea still holds out hope for a more peaceful environment for her future grandchildren to come into someday. She can be reached at amccann@washtimesherald.com.