Rainy Day Writing

Writing, Reading, Inspirations and Aspirations

Reaching for Relevance: I’m Learning as Fast as I Can

Me and Cosmo

 

A writer friend of mine recently encouraged me to keep writing, because, we need to keep  our generation (we are both in our late fifties) relevant. Up until that moment I knew that I was struggling with something, I felt a little down, a little old, a little slow. But I didn’t realize that what I was really feeling was irrelevant.

Like the librarian Wordsworth in the Twilight Zone episode, the one where he was judged obsolete by a totalitarian government official, I wouldn’t want to stand before a jury of my peers right now and have my relevance judged. I’m just not convinced that I would be able to argue my case very well. It would be a struggle to prove my relevance in a world that is moving towards greater and greater reliance on technology even as my own feeble grasp of it seems to have slipped into reverse. I observe other people who seem to be negotiating just fine through this world of embryonic electronic elocution and digital doo daddery, and I struggle along like Laura Ingalls Wilder in my horse and buggy world, wide eyed as a time traveler who’s been ejected 200 years into the future. Every freaking morning I wake up like Woody Allen in Sleeper, wondering where the hell and who I am. Things keep speeding up as I’m slowing down. I don’t understand the changes I see in politics, religion, and television viewing preferences. I don’t even own a tablet for goodness sake. I read books…printed on paper…with INK!  I know how to write my blog but fail miserably when it comes to networking. I don’t think I even know what that is. And oh, I use a flip phone. There it is. The last nail in the coffin. I am obsolete.

And I’m not even trying hard to fight back. It’s like I’ve accepted being obsolete, I believe in my own obsolescence, unlike Wordsworth the librarian. Wordsworth was convinced of his relevance in a world that no longer recognized his vocation as a value to society. He did not let the judgement against him–“You are obsolete”, define him. He held his head high and proclaimed courageously and proudly that he was a librarian. The derision of his peers did not diminish his belief in himself or his vocation. He kept his head up and his reading glasses on until the end. He was so brave. There wasn’t a speck of insecurity clouding his self judgement. He knew who he was and that he was valuable and his life was worthwhile in spite of the jeers and debasements of his accusers. He died defying their authority to decide his relevance for him. He died convinced of his own relevance.

I wish I was like Wordsworth, but, right about now, I am a big, steaming, gelatinous, quivering bowl of insecurity soup. I feel too old, too gray, too fat, too incompetent, too blah, blah, blah fill in the blanks with whatever negative stereotypical adjective you can think of that might apply to a fifty seven and a half year old woman, a normal woman not a Jane Fonda kind of fifty seven and a half year old woman, and that is how I’ve been feeling lately. It doesn’t help to look back on my work life and realize that it was a collection of relatively insignificant part time jobs and volunteer work that nobody really cares about. In my personal life I didn’t have a family, but raised some really happy dogs and plants and painted pretty pictures of flowers and things. WOW! What a world changer.

This is bad. I’m not even 60 yet. I can’t imagine what that might feel like. I’m not even gonna go there right now.

Betty Davis once quipped that old age was no place for sissies. She was right. And she would know about the struggle for relevance as you age. She was a fabulously famous movie star, an iconic, strong and in demand Hollywood personality. She exuded competence, accomplishment and strength as a young woman. Getting old must have really sucked for her. Losing her looks, her marketability, and, to the fickle world of public opinion, her relevance. At least she didn’t have to worry about mastering cell phones, tablets, lap tops, blue tooth compatibility, yada yada yada. I need to go now and sit down and spend twenty minutes typing a short text to my sister. Then I’ll go take a nap. Maybe when I wake up I’ll figure out something relevant to write about.

 

 

 

 

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9 Comments

  1. I read this whole post alternating between smiling in agreement and my shoulders inching up as I thought, no, no. Don’t go there. You have music. The best ever produced. I picture you tinkering around wide open spaces, snapping photos of sunsets, chatting with your dogs, camping in the mountains (in the camper, of course) and tooling around looking for decent coffee with your hubby in quaint villages. And writing. Enviable in my way of thinking. As for the flip phone…yeah. I suspect you’d have a blast with a smart phone. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well when I read your comment BZ my life sounds freaking idyllic! Maybe the misery stems partly from trying to finish the sheetrock in our little home improvement project. I suck at finishing sheetrock, and didn’t expect we would be doing it ourselves this time, so I am swearing constantly and driving the old man bats. To the point of “would you shut the F#@% up please” crazy. I discovered I do not like doing things I suck at anymore, it just makes me feel incompetent. A camping trip to the beach is definitely in order. And I’m slowly working up the confidence to get that smart phone. Baby steps, BZ. Baby steps.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I know exactly where you are coming from! I’ve been struggling with a lot of the same issues. I feel like I’m running out of time to do or say something. I think insecurity is part of what we sign up for when we write. I read your blog because you write honestly and that will always be relevant. Keep it up!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Jean. I guess we’re all struggling along but laughing at myself helps. And music, but you know that too! And writing is a compulsion so we just keep banging away at it. I’m better today. Not quite gelatinous but still a little quivery.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m having the time of my life. I’m invisible to the kind of men who used to harass me, I’ve got enough command of the Net to mouth off in public and get responses, and kids’ eyes bug out when I tell them about the Old Days. Who needs relevance when you can be history on the hoof?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well Janine I can always count on you for a unique perspective. Never thought of myself as a walking history text, or maybe just a talking one. Thanks for your fresh take on things.

      Like

  4. I’m having the time of my life. The kind of men who used to harass me don’t notice me anymore, I have enough command of technology to make a noise and get heard occasionally, and kids are amazed by my stories of the Old Times. I’m history on the hoof, and history is always relevant.

    Like

  5. Ilona, you’re very relevant to me. Unfortunately, I’m extremely irrelevant in the bracket right below you in basically all the categories you mentioned, so I don’t know how much comfort my endorsement can provide.

    I value wisdom and humor and I find it in your writing.

    Like

    • Maybe we are all just sloshing around in this same soup, some are just better swimmers than the rest of us. Thank you TF for your show of support. It’s appreciated!

      Like

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