My latest column from the Albert Lea Tribune on October 3, 2016
I found my summer clothes. The problem with finding my summer clothes is that I was looking for my winter clothes. Do I have you confused yet?
At some point in the last year I organized my closet and my clothes, and instead of leaving summer and winter clothes together in my drawers and my closet, I decided to change them out so I would have more room. I function very well when I am not organized. I forget where I put things when I organize. Remember the place for everything and everything in its place? When things are in place I forget where that place is.
This summer I was sure I had more summer clothes the year before. But, I did remember I gave some of my summer clothes away. Last fall I weeded out those clothes that did not fit and got rid of those I wasn’t in love with. When spring and summer came this year I had four pairs of jeans, a couple dresses, seven summer shirts and a pair of shorts and capris. I washed more than usual. And I must say I got along with those few pieces of clothing choices. I berated myself for giving away some of my favorite items of clothing. I didn’t think I would have done that, but, I could not find them.
Cool weather is settling in. The other day I had to dress up a bit and I shoved and pushed my meager assortment of clothes in my closet to find my fall and winter dress pants. I knew I had some because I just bought them last year. Again, I seem to remember in the spring I decided to organize. But I can’t remember where I put my winter clothes. And, that is how I found my summer clothes. Actually it was Natasha, my beautiful, furry kitty, that helped me find my clothes. She hid under the bed, and as I tried to get her out, low and behold there was a flat storage container slid far enough under the bed to the middle that you couldn’t see it. Maybe I should dust under the bed once in a while.
Excitement filled my veins when I saw the container. I knew I must have put my winter clothes in it. I am not an under-the-bed storage person but I think I recall listening to an organizer guru that said it was the perfect place for clothes. I pulled off the lid and there they were — my summer clothes. My feelings held a mixture of excitement that I found my favorite summer blouse, and a mixture of disappointment because I couldn’t wear my dress pants to church.
Though we welcome the change of seasons in nature, it is perhaps harder to welcome the change of seasons in our lives as we age. One of the things that happens with age besides our bodies changing, is the fact we have history to fall back on. With that history comes knowledge. It is that knowledge of what we have lived through that shapes the choices we make today and the viewpoints we have that affect what we do going forward into the future.
There is a quote about reality by Robert Bolono that states: “People see what they want to see and what people want to see never has anything to do with the truth.” Watching the presidential debate and seeing the comments afterward, I think that statement rings true. Each and every one of us has something we wish to happen for the future, and we back the candidate that we feel matches what we need, no matter what is proved to be false or wrong. We believe unscrupulous websites because they are telling us what we want to hear. And there is something in us at each season in our lives that tells us we can’t be wrong. We don’t want to admit our views could be skewed because what does that say about us?
After the debate there was one statement that people asked of their friends time and time again and that is, “Did we watch the same debate?”
Everyone has a different stake in this election. The younger generation is afraid for their future and the future of their children. They are worried about crime and terrorism and the economy. They want their children to be able to afford college and health care and to own their own home. This is their future. It is the season of their life where they want to grow and flourish.
As a senior citizen, we want to ensure our retirement and our health care. We want to ensure we will be able to afford to live, and one of the differences of us being in the autumn and winter of our lives, is the fact we remember what was, and we are having a hard time reconciling it with what is.
As I hunt for the past season’s change of clothes I hunt for the past seasons of my life and remember the race riots in the ’60s and ’70s. I remember my parents talking about Hitler and the war. I remember waiting for someone I love to come home from Vietnam. I remember the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. But I also remember neighbors helping neighbors and people standing up against hate. I remember the kindness of strangers and the wisdom of many leaders from both parties. I remember the good and the bad.
It is no different today. We believe what we perceive to be our reality. It is neither right nor wrong because we live the seasons of our lives. Our perception will influence our votes and therein lies what kind of truth we see.
My truth: I am better in creative chaos in my house than organized neatness. That is my perception of my reality.