May 23, 2024
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By Alice Liles Alice’s note: This story first appeared in my blog The Bright Lights of Muleshoe on March 8, 2014. I am no philosopher, but if I had to label myself, after teaching American literature for more than a few years, I think I would fall into the Transcendentalist category. No matter; we all tend to make philosophical judgments from time to time, no label needed. I guess I was having one of those moments when I wrote this. I suspect you have mulled universal truths every now and then yourself.

Lately I have noticed articles and interviews of celebrities that include a list of open-ended questions. What do you appreciate more as you age? More women should… What do you cherish more than anything else? What is more important to you today than it was twenty years ago? What is worse than failure? What’s your advice on aging gracefully? And so forth, but you get the idea. I read these things and most of the answers sound thoughtful and insightful, and suddenly these people who are famous for acting or singing or misbehaving enough to make the news come off as modern-day philosophers who have gleaned all this wisdom and insight that I have seemed to have missed while going about the everyday business of my mundane little life. But, wait a minute. What makes them so smart?  Why can’t I come up with stuff like that, really profound, life-changing words of wisdom? I don’t know. Can I? Well, let’s just see. What do I appreciate more as I age? Actually waking up each morning? Well, yes, but being healthy is what allows that to happen, and being healthy I do appreciate. All the clichés are true-we really do take good health for granted, and if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything. You’ve heard that all before. It’s true. More women should…be willing to strike out on their own and do things they want to do. Can’t find anyone to take in a movie with you? Go anyway. Want to climb a mountain and everyone thinks you are nuts? Do it anyway. Run naked through the bad part of town? Rethink that one. What do I cherish more than anything else? This one could easily be confused with the first question, but it’s not exactly the same thing. Loved ones are a given, but what about other things, like the freedom to make my own choices. All the blessings I have been so graciously given. The comfort of a warm bed. The water heater. A sense of humor. Chocolate with pecans and caramel. What is more important to me today than it was twenty years ago? The fact that I live in a democracy-and Texas- even if neither is perfect. The love and the family legacy and the gene pool graciously given to me by my parents. What is worse than failure? Not taking responsibility for your failures and therefore not learning from them. Don’t waste those mistakes! Look upon them as character-building opportunities, because, trust me, we all make them. Mistakes, that is. What is my advice on aging gracefully? Laugh a whole lot and look upon aging as a privilege-not everyone gets the chance to age, you know. If those ideas don’t work, get a face-lift. And get a pet; they make life so much more entertaining and satisfying. Okay, so I just reread my answers. Not earth-shattering, but not bad. You could do worse for advice to live by. At least give one or two a try. Get a cat, take a warm shower, and curl up with the cat and a box of Millionaires. Not a bad plan, I must say. What would your answers be? For more stories to give you something to think about, or maybe just give you a smile, go to



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