as I get older

I was chatting to someone the other day and began a sentence with, “And as I get older….“, when he interrupted and said “you get wiser“. First of all, I do not like being interrupted. Second, this is NOT what I was going to say. Perhaps he was trying to pay me a compliment. I do not mind compliments (at this stage, I’ll take pretty much any that get thrown my way – I’m weak like that).
But if he’d allowed me to finish my sentence, he would have heard “… I find I am becoming less and less tolerant of selfish, over-privileged people and self-appointed experts – and, what’s even better, I find I am able to express my opinions verbally and directly.” This is something I’ve had trouble with all my life – I was brought up to be polite and to treat others with respect, whether or not that respect was returned. A very deeply engrained survival tactic, which I had mastered by the age of 3, was to keep my mouth shut. Voicing one’s own opinion, however civilly and/or timidly, was the equivalent of navigating a field filled with landmines when I was growing up. Landmines were best avoided by standing in one place.

This is so liberating. What I say may or may not make any difference to the recipient of my intolerance or irritation, but I don’t care about that. I can’t change people’s minds about things and it is not my vocation in life anyway. (When I was 13 and fully indoctrinated by the Sisters of Mercy, I believed my vocation was to become a nun. Thankfully, by the age of 14, I’d discovered Levis, cigarettes, Neil Young, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Kurt Vonnegut and a very attractive young man called Roy who used to ride his bike all the way from Melville to visit me after school every day. We only ever stood at the garden gate talking, but it was enough to make me realise that there was more to life than a narrow bed in an austere cell with a bunch of religious fanatics, no personal freedom and no choice of different outfits). I did have a glow-in-the-dark statue of the Virgin Mary on my shelf, and you could lift Mary up to reveal a little container presumably meant for your rosary. For me, it functioned as an ashtray. It took my mother years to discover the source of the smell of stale stompies. Revolting, I know, but there we are.

I have spent a little time thinking about these things. My conclusion is that the more seriously people take themselves, the more “special” they believe themselves to be. Yes, it is rather simplistic but it is a sufficient explanation for me. Well, guess what? We are all special and, ipso facto, none of us are special. We all have different abilities, interests, opportunities, circumstances; the colour of your skin or the amount of money you have in the bank doesn’t give you the right to think you are better than someone with skin of a different colour or less money or less formal education.

I’ve made a good start lately on this new, more outspoken me, and I like it. I am starting to like me more. I have boundaries. Don’t cross mine and I won’t cross yours (or at least I will try very hard not to, and if I do, I will apologise to you). We are entitled to differing opinions on climate change, psychology, the wisdom of covid vaccinations, critical race theory, capitalism, art, music, religion and politics. We are entitled to these opinions by our Constitution, by the true nature of democracy, and by common decency and the absence of judgement.

But talking about judgement —- right now, most South Africans are entitled to feel wildly and deliriously thrilled by the thought of ex-Prez Jacob Zuma going to jail. It’s supposed to happen today. Only for contempt of court, despite the other 782 million laws he’s broken, but jail is jail. No doubt he’ll be out soon, he’s a wily bastard, but until then he’s going to look really really lousy in orange.

21 thoughts on “as I get older

    1. Nice Piece of Work Post author

      He was the one who sold our country to an Indian family of fraudsters and criminals: Jacob “State Capture” Zuma. He himself has had to face charges of corruption, rape, and everything in between. He is a narcissistic sociopath with the intelligence of a tea bag but the canniness of a wily old fox.

      Reply
  1. insearchofitall

    You rock girl!!! I loved EVERY word here. Even read this to my daughter. I doubt you are actually old but as we age, *your words” things do change. We also get to the point, more so each year, that we stop taking crap from others. As 73 approaches, just around the corner, I’m like you with no patience for liars and cheats. Your president sounds exactly like the one we had. I told my daughter he would have sold our country to the highest bidder too. It was always about the money. We are all waiting for the day he wears the same orange his skin is just like your Zuma. You keep telling them what’s what and be who you are. Go get em.

    Reply
    1. Nice Piece of Work Post author

      Yes, you also had a real chump. I’ll never forget the day DT was elected – I couldn’t speak for about two hours. Although I have to say, HC was no prize either. But at least she knew which country she was in when travelling round the world, and could string a sentence together. Why is it that the schmucks seem to rise to the top and the few honest, smart ones never make it?
      I’m enjoying not taking crap any more. I never raise my voice or kick people in the shins, although that may come….as people get more and more stupid, and as I get even older. I’m 59 now, by the way, not exactly a spring chicken but not quite completely over the hill either. 72 is nothing. In fact, it’s the new 59 :)

      Reply
      1. insearchofitall

        I don’t know what it is either that we elect the worst of the worst. B didn’t want the job, (those are the only people with enough sense to actually do it) but knew we couldn’t stay the course so he gave in. My daughter says it’s because the CO2 levels are so high that peoples brains are no longer functioning. I have found no one in my neighborhood that can carry on an intelligent conversation. It’s epidemic here. I’m putting my place up for sale as soon as my daughter finds a job she can do from anywhere. I have to find somewhere I can grow as a person. Oh to be 59 again. I had so much energy then. ;)

  2. Going Batty in Wales

    Good for you! I loved this post and your courage to speak up for yourself. Keep going! By the way Zuma and Trump make our Johnson look relatively sane – I never thought I would see him as even that!

    Reply
    1. Nice Piece of Work Post author

      I have just watched Johnson’s address to the nation this afternoon, at least he’s treating you like responsible adults – or that’s how it seemed to me. We are being treated like moronic toddlers.

      Reply
  3. cedar51

    Jill, having found you going to bat over some of my most recent issues with “expert friends/family” it has made a little more proactive. In that “I might feel guilty about not allowing the bully to visit” but “actually I’m enjoying those unannounced drop in periods” along with “no contact with some parts of my family”

    To a point where I’m starting to “think” about “things” I had planned to do last year which was stymied by the pandemic and wondering if I should set yet again another goal for the end of this year…possibly doable. As long as I can get my health more balanced…

    There will be “comments from those above oddball people” but knowing that I don’t need their “expert advice” or even having to heed it, even better.

    Thanks for being proactive…

    Reply
      1. Nice Piece of Work Post author

        I realised that he wasn’t intending to be rude, he was just exuberant and very chatty. At least he was paying attention (in a way). I laughed and said No, sadly not wiser in my case – and then continued where I’d left off. It was a first meeting, so I was quite comfortable putting him gently in his place. (He is also very attractive…) *laughing

    1. Nice Piece of Work Post author

      Catherine, proactive is not the word I would have chosen! In South Africa, we have a word – GATVOL. I can’t even find a link to the correct pronunciation of this word, but it’s Afrikaans and it means “fed up”, “had enough”, “close to my limit”. The G is similar to the sound of a heavy smoker coughing up phlegm and the V is a soft F. The stress is on the first syllable. It can be used in a variety of different circumstances, so it gets used a lot :)

      Reply
  4. katechiconi

    Yup, with you. I have also discovered the joy of freely expressing my displeasure at rude behaviour, and responding to the inevitable responding outburst with “Is that really the best you can do?” I am LIKING the process of becoming a crone, hehehe.

    Reply
      1. katechiconi

        Nope. I was calling myself a crone, and I LOVE IT. Cronehood isn’t an appearance, it’s a state of mind when you can say what you like and do what you like and you’re not all insecure about whether people will like you or not because you just don’t care!

  5. Linne

    Jill, I loved your post (and all the comments, too)! Keeping one’s mouth shut is a challenge to overcome; I admire you for finding a way past it that works for you. People should be able to express themselves freely and be heard. I’m not including hate speech or the like here; just intelligent sharing of thoughts and ideas . . . and feelings, too. Thanks for giving me things to think about! ~ Linne

    Reply
    1. Nice Piece of Work Post author

      Thanks to Kate (see response above), I have now happily reinvented myself as Crone #2. Unfortunately today I am a very sad, tired, disillusioned Crone absolutely devastated by what we are witnessing here in South Africa (and I’m in a part of the country that is not itself in a state of anarchy) – and I can think of little else. We’re all in this together.

      Reply

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