Fandango’s Provocative Question (27 May 2020)

Wednesday. Fandango’s Provocative Question once again. This week, he asks:

How old are you* and how old do you feel — older or younger than your actual chronological age? Do you generally act your age? And what does “acting your age” mean to you?

For me, none of this is about age, it is about health. There is a link, though, between age and health, just because our health tends to deteriorate as we age. None of us will live forever.

Health is the trigger, just because we meander through life. As a teen, we think we’re indestructable, and that feeling lasts for years.

And then something happens which causes us to realise that we are not indestructable. People get cancer, or have a heart attack or a stroke, and so on. And the event just focusses people to think about death. The funny thing, when you do think about death, it is actually quite a calming process. That’s not to say anybody invites death, but we don’t actually fear it. I find it’s normally quite easy to spot the difference between those who have gone through that reconciliation process and those who haven’t – little words here and there make the difference. Although mostly, people don’t go anywhere near that deep.

But why would we think about death when we’ve been strong and healthy our whole life? I speak to several seventy-somethings who have been strong and healthy their entire lives, so why would they necessarily think about death, although they are advancing in years [i.e. a lot more advanced than I am]?

I don’t think ill-health particularly changes our outlooks on life, though. I have a 95-year-old client who has all sorts of aches and pains but who says she still thinks exactly the same now as she did when she was a teen. I’d go along with that. Sure, I know more about things, in particular the stroke has offered a steep learning curve, but how I see the world is not substantially different, now from then.

So, all this nonsense is a roundabout way of getting to his questions. Answers directed at nobody in particular.

How old are you and how old do you feel — older or younger than your actual chronological age?

I’m 52. I feel like I’m a teenager, except my body lets me down.

Do you generally act your age?

How many disabled people aged 52 do you know? With reduced mobility, I’m kinda obliged to act how I act, it’s not as if I can choose to act one way or another. If that equates to old for you, so be it. I am pig-headed and will do absolutely everything I can for myself.

And what does “acting your age” mean to you?

Nothing. If you can, go for it. Just be careful. Remember that a lot of falls admitted to hospital are people who own things like walking sticks, but who don’t use ’em. Let’s be careful out there!

Fandango’s One Word Challenge (27 May 2020)

Ben & Jerry’s is an indulgent dessert that should be eaten in moderation. You should not be replacing more than one meal a day with ice cream. We do not consider a pint or a tub of ice cream to be a single serving.

Jerry Greenfield, Co-founder, Ban and Jerry’s

So there!

for Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC), tub.

Dulce et Decorum est

In Melanies Share Your World prompt the other day, I adopted what I think was a forthright tone. She proposed a statement, and I said that yes, with a couple of modifications, I could happily go along with it.

Her original statement was:

In your opinion, does patriotism require the belief that one’s country is the greatest on earth?

and with my modifications, it became:

In your opinion, does patriotism require the desire that one’s country is the best it can possibly be?

It has made me think some since (, so just in those terms, it was an absolutely brilliant post). At the time, I gave a couple of examples, largely to do with fighting for changes to society in order to hit that best it can possibly be goal. While I still feel that is a perfectly valid example, I feel I should probably have also given an example of how patriotism might also mean protecting – again, fighting for – our societies against elements that would harm them.

As a Britisher, for example, I am in absolutely no doubt that somebody like Hitler would have harmed my society, if he had been able to do so. Not just my society, but all our societies. Passage of time has only made clearer exactly what he was about.

I could also not help thinking about Melanie’s word, believe, versus my word, desire. It is significant because just that one word made the difference between agree/disagree with her statement. It raises a bunch of questions for me.

First, if somebody believes their country to be the best, does that mean that it can do no wrong? Does that mean that everything there is already perfect, that nothing could be better? If we look around us, I would suggest that things are not perfect. That being the case, how do we highlight those things that are imperfect? Do we bother? Or, do we just suck it up and pretend everything is okay? If we all pretended, nothing would ever change. So if we do think things need to change, how do we go about that? If change is via the ballot box, what do we then do when the ballot box fails us? Where do we go?

Second, what exactly is their country? Well, that’s why we have politicians – to steer the country. So, the government chooses its diplomats to go out and represent the country in the big, wide world, or at the UN. Or at bilateral summits, say. Each time, the government is pulling the strings.

Governments are elected politicians, they can’t just want somewhere to be great, they must work out how to make it great, what buttons to push. And importantly, they are subject to periodic re-election; we will fire them if they are not up to scratch. So, given that the government might change, and given that the country is represented by its government, how comfortable are we just to say, sweepingly, I believe that my country is the greatest on earth?

I’m not, especially when my country might be run by a government I do not support, whose standards might be very different from my own. I am happy to decide on a case-by-case basis whether, in my opinion, my country is doing right or wrong, I am not at all happy to give a blanket affirmation that it always does right.

And I consider myself to be extremely patriotic.