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Locked down but not out in Italy

Singing from the balconies! One nice thing about this crisis ... solidarity! “Guess you’re not living like a tourist anymore,” was the funny, truthful and somewhat gut-wrenching message of a friend the day the lockdown in Italy began. Today is day 6. My beloved Italia has been hit hard with the COVID19 epidemic. With the second largest elderly population in the world, the epidemic has meant a disproportionate amount of deaths in the country. So though I haven’t been worried about contracting it myself, this isn’t about me or someone like me who, if contracted it would probably have a sucky couple of weeks and then recover. It is about if someone like me contracted it and then spread it to a person with a complicated health history or an elderly person with a weakened immune system. Eerily orderly: Lines for the grocery store, each person one meter apart In a country with no concept (and no physical room really) for personal space, and in a city with reproachable hygie

Consulting Oracle 32

Photo Credit: *Zephyrance - don't wake me up.
The eve of my 32 birthday. I don't really know what to make of it. I am happy to report that I am not having a mini life crisis like I did last year. This year, I am a lot more at peace with my stage in life. I even started rounding up my age again, so I take that as a good sign of my mentality stability. And like I mentioned in my New Year's ruminations, my 31st year was pretty good over all.

Still I have to say that on some level, I am no more advanced in discovering the meaning of being 32... of being any age for that matter or in understanding how life works in general. So I turned to the Internet, our modern day oracle. When you type in 32, here are some of the things you get:

  • A huge close up of someone's face apparently selling outwear: 
  • A cool looking lounge in Philadelphia and Atlantic City:
  • A poetry blog (Neat!):
  • A colt .32 pistol from Guns America (Not Neat)
  • 32 inch TVs, 32 GB memory cards, Channel 32, other general measurements
  • Online games:

So generally, typing 32 into Google did not provide any great enlightenment or philosophical discoveries... until I came across 32 Keys: About Life. A little skeptical of what is actually on the other side of a www, I ventured anyway and came across a listing of different topics. Seeing as my post last year on my birthday had a lot to do with fear, that is the first topic I clicked.

The advice comes from Grandpa Ken (I already liked the idea of grandfatherly advice, having lost my last living grandparent almost 9 years ago... and our modern society severely underestimates the wisdom of elders). Within the post, there is a quote: "For it is not death or hardship that is a fearful thing, but the fear of death or hardship." - Epictetus (55-135)  followed by this advice:

Try to free yourself from guilt or shame. If you have erred badly correct it or forget it. Talk it over with a friend. Look for good in yourself and in others. Avoid large doses of hyped bad news reporting and look for some good stories... There is only one you, unique and deserving of a good life, so feel good about yourself just the way you are.

Pretty fantastic advice if I do say so myself. And if that isn't enough, in Grandpa Ken's bio, his 2010 entry reads:

Aging has its special problems, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't have a lot of enjoyment. The October - December years can be a time when you are able to say "I don't care" about certain problems. So many of life's anxieties and troubles lessen or fade away in the later years. Serenity should prevail. And there are still new things to try. Like some of this new technology, seeing new areas, meeting new people, taking more time to appreciate what is free and naturally all around us.

Exactly the attitude I want to have as I get older, and though 32 is nowhere near old, now is a good time to start the habit. So on the last day of being 31, I want the title of Grandpa Ken's post to be my theme for 32 (and onwards): "Be happy while you're living." How do we so often overlook this in daily life?

I set out looking for wisdom and meaning today, and I don't think I could have asked for more than that. Thanks Grandpa Ken. 

It turns out that, in leading people to greater wisdom, perhaps Google isn't such a bad oracle.


  1. Thanks to you Karen! Reading, reviewing and later writing on self-help topics for many years has been very educational and useful all along the way to here.

    Stephen Leacock's concerns about living resurface now and again; "Why are we such fools - such tragic fools? How strange it is, our little procession of life. The child says, 'when I am a big boy'. But what is that? the big boy says, 'when I grow up'. And then, grown up, he says, 'when I get married'. But to be married, what is that after all? The thought changes to, 'when I retire'. And then when retirement comes, he looks back over the landscape traversed; a cold wind seems to sweep over it; somehow he has missed it all, and it is gone. Life, we learn too late, is in the living, in the tissue of every day and hour"

    I'm thinking you are on to that Karen.
    Best wishes - Grampa Ken


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