HELP LINE: It’s time to be done with ‘should’

LAST WEEK, I went on about time.

Well, more specifically, the fact that we even care about this thing called time because of an unfortunate fact called mortality.

Judging from the responses I’ve received from a lot of you (which included some welcomed grammatical corrections), my ruminations rang a bell.

Here’s one that sets the tone pretty well:

“OK, Harvey, when I finished reading yesterday’s column I pictured you getting up from your computer & joyfully wandering off — abandoning all us 3rd Agers. I agree with your philosophy. But when I try & tell my kids this stuff, they think I have an incurable disease or something. As of last week I have officially resigned from trying to ‘help’ my kids. I am overwhelmed by how much the world they are dealing with is not like mine was.

“Also I’m reflecting on how my ‘mistakes’ were all part of my learning process that made me who I am today. I was becoming a dour old I-told-you-so person. Now I just wanna have fun! Let THEM worry about ME!

“Was it Mel Brooks or Henny Youngman who said, ‘Too soon old. Too late smart?’ ”


As attractive as the prospect might be some weeks, I have no intention of abandoning anybody.

Actually, I concluded my conclusions by saying: “I am all done wasting it,” with the operative word being “waste.”

And I meant it.

I am all done:

• Worrying about what I can’t do; I’d rather focus on what I can do.

• Worrying about what I can’t change; I’d rather focus on what I can.

• With fear. With the endless cacophony of talking heads telling me what to be afraid of, because “it” will be the end of the world. No, it won’t.

• I am all done with believing that work is all there is. Sure, it’s important and, sure, it’s a fact of life — no work, no money; No money, no … well, you get it. But when uninvited mortality lands, I doubt that I’ll be terribly concerned about the tyranny of other people’s schedules.

• I am all done with neglecting to say, “I love you,” and with neglecting to hear it.

• I am all done gnashing my teeth over rampant, insidious, patriotically-disguised greed. Greed is greed, spin it as you will. Whoever has the most toys doesn’t win. They just leave behind a lot of stuff that someone else will have to worry about. I think I’d prefer honor.

• I’m all done forgetting to laugh.

• Or forgetting to cry. Whoever feels the least, loses.

• I am all done listening to crap on the basis that it’s “crap.” True, everyone has a right to their crap, but they don’t have a right to waste my time with it.

• I am all done feeling like a victim. The truth is I am pretty much my own problem.

• I am all done listening to somebody try to sell me something that I didn’t ask to buy. I don’t have the time, the money or, frankly, the inclination.

• I am all done believing in magic. After all these years, the only easy money I’ve ever seen came at the highest price.

• I am all done trying to keep up with the younger generation, because that’s not my job. That’s their job. My job is to be, as intensely as possible, who I am. So, thankfully, I am all done trying to be cool.

• I am all done worrying about this calorie or that minor indulgence. Sure, a reasonable dose of self-discipline borders on responsibility, but deprivation is just … deprivation. Besides, if you hate the time you’re saving, who wants more of it?

• I am all done having to be right. Besides, because it seems to happen so rarely, what’s the point in worrying about it? I’d prefer to speak the truth as I understand it, then be all done with refusing to listen.

• Or learn.

• And in the same vein, I am all done insisting on believing in a black-and-white world. It isn’t. We live our entire lives painted in palettes of gray, being shown, over and over, that black-and-white is a luxury afforded to children. And idiots.

• I am all done wishing I were someone else. I’m not. But if I can remember to act the way I want to be, I’ll soon become the way I act.

• I am all done believing that professionalism and diplomacy are always positive things, because nothing is always anything. Honesty shouldn’t startle people by virtue of its rarity.

• I’m all done wasting my time looking for fights. Why should I? They seem to come to me on a fairly regular basis.

• I am all done wishing it were some other time, whether that’s yesterday or tomorrow, because I don’t have the time to waste today. Besides, a smile in a special lady’s eyes is all I need to make today the best day of my life.

Enough, right?

Why should I waste your time by going on about how I’m not going to waste mine?

One last thing:

• I am all done with the word should, because I just don’t have the time.


Mark Harvey is director of Clallam/Jefferson Senior Information & Assistance, which operates through the Olympic Area Agency on Aging. He is also a member of the Community Advocates for Rural Elders partnership. He can be reached at 360-452-3221 (Port Angeles-Sequim), 360-385-2552 (Jefferson County) or 360-374-9496 (West End), or by emailing [email protected].

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