Two Amazing Men Who Will Make Your Day (I Promise)!

I can’t believe I’m going to write this next sentence: I’ve fallen in love with Facebook.

Or at least I love my Facebook news feed. I read it every night, after I’ve crawled into bed, even if it’s 1 a.m. I can sometimes spend 90 minutes perusing the unending stream of videos, rumination, photos, and articles that people choose to post.

After a day working non-stop on FabOverFifty-related matters, the news feed also helps me stay current on social, cultural and political issues. After all, how can I consider myself a true American if I haven’t seen Kim Kardashian’s wedding dress or heard about Brad Pitt’s red carpet run-in at the premiere of Angelina’s new movie, Maleficent!

On the smarter, more serious or spiritual sides, the news feed gives me some wonderful things to look at, think about and discuss. I recently watched two truly inspiring videos that, coincidentally, conveyed the same lesson that we hear over and over again: Life is short. Really, really short.

Brilliant Australian comedian-musician, 38-year-old Tim Minchin, gave the graduating class at the University of Western Australia his nine life lessons. I urge you to listen to Tim’s address (given in 2013) but here’s a sampling of his wise and witty words:

  • You don’t have to have a dream that you chase. Have instead a passionate dedication to the pursuit of short-term goals. If you focus too far in front of you, you won’t see the shiny thing there, right in front of you.”
  • Be hard on your opinions. Constantly and thoroughly examine them. Think critically about your own ideas. Be intellectually rigorous. Be hard on your beliefs. Identify your biases, your prejudices, and your privileges.”
  • Be a teacher, an amazing teacher. Be a primary school teacher. They are the most admirable and important people in the world. Even if you’re not a teacher, be a teacher. Share your ideas. Rejoice in what you learn and spray it.”
  • Define yourself by what you love. Try to express your passion for things you love. Don’t define yourself in opposition to stuff. Be pro stuff, not just anti-stuff.”
  • Respect people with less power than you. I don’t care if you’re the most powerful cat in the room. I will judge you on how you treat the least powerful people in the room.”
  • Don’t rush. Don’t panic. You don’t need to already know what you’re going to do with the rest of your life at 20. Life is absurd, this idea of seeking meaning in a set of circumstances that happens to exist after 13.8 billion years worth of unguided events.”

“Life will sometimes be long and tough and, God, it’s tiring,” Tim said. “You’ll sometimes be happy and sometimes sad. And then you’ll be old, and then you’ll be dead. There is only one sensible thing to do with this empty existence, and that is, fill it.”

“Life is best filled by learning as much as you can about as much as you can, taking pride in whatever you’re doing, having compassion, sharing ideas, being enthusiastic.”

“And love, and travel, and art and wine, and sex, but you know all that already.”

“It’s an incredibly exciting thing, this one meaningless life of yours. Good luck,” Tim concluded, to enthusiastic applause.

The second video was about Zach Sobiech, a 19-year-old from Minnesota who died of a rare cancer on May 20th of last year, five years after his diagnosis. I think that, maybe, people like Zach and his amazing, beautiful, warm, loving and oh-so-smart family were put here to teach the rest of us a lesson about the value of life. See the video and decide for yourself.

At any rate, running into Zach and Tim, as well as Kim and Brad, all jammed up there in the same tiny space on my iPhone kind of puts things into perspective.

Gotta love Facebook!

Please tell me what you think after you’ve watched
the videos!

Murder, He Wrote

Do you think you’d know—and acknowledge—if your 20-something son or daughter was a drug addict? A potential murderer? A gambler in debt up to his ears? Owned guns?

“Sure,” you say, without hesitation.

I say: “Don’t be so sure!”

A woman I know well (let’s call her Rose) didn’t recognize that her son was addicted to painkillers, and more, until he almost OD’d on heroin and called her frantically because he couldn’t breathe. “Let’s just say I didn’t want to know,” Rose told me.

“I never dreamed I’d be able to close my eyes and mind to my own child with such a big problem, but I could and I did.”

“He didn’t live with me, which made it easier. I never went to his apartment, maybe because I was afraid of what I’d see,” Rose said.

When Rose did go to her son’s place, while he was in rehab, she was greeted by shelves and shelves lined with empty bottles of drugs, like OxyCotin; piles of clothes strewn around every room; ashtrays overflowing with cigarette butts; furniture destroyed by graffiti and other telltale signs that her son was in trouble.

“Thankfully, he has been ‘clean’ for seven years, is married to a wonderful woman, and has a beautiful baby daughter and a good job. He’s one of the lucky ones and I’m a lucky mother that he didn’t die,” Rose said.

I thought of Rose when I saw Elliot Rodger’s parents being interviewed. Elliot went on a shooting rampage a few days ago, in Santa Barbara, CA, killing seven (including himself) and wounding 13. Elliot’s mother, Li Chin, wasn’t lucky like Rose. She learned the truth much too late. For everyone involved.

The deeply disturbed, 22 year-old left behind a 137-page manifesto, called “My Twisted World: The Story of Elliot Rodger,” which detailed his feelings of intense rejection, by girls and then women: “All of those beautiful girls I’ve desired so much in my life, but can never have because they despise and loathe me, I will destroy. All of those popular people who live hedonistic lives of pleasure, I will destroy, because they never accepted me as one of them. I will kill them all and make them suffer, just as they have made me suffer. It is only fair.”

Elliot had Asperger syndrome, considered to be the mildest and highest functioning end of the Autism spectrum. Difficulty with social interaction is one of the most common symptoms of the illness, as is an inability to understand the intent behind another person’s actions, words and behaviors. If this was the case with Elliot, perhaps he would have thought that a girl “loathed” him, simply because she turned down his invitation to go on a date.

Elliot had been in therapy since he was eight years old, countless news reports revealed, but neither his therapists or his family had notified authorities that they thought he was a danger, that is, until Li Chin recently discovered Elliot’s social media posts about suicide and killing people and called the police. However, they didn’t see anything amiss or alarming when they went to Elliot’s house to investigate and told him to call his mother, when they reassured her that he was okay. (They never actually went inside the house.)

Elliot reportedly told deputies it was a misunderstanding and that he wasn’t going to hurt anyone or himself. He said he was having troubles with his social life. He noted in his manifesto that he worried the police were going to find his weapons and writings. “I would have been thrown in jail, denied of the chance to exact revenge on my enemies. I can’t imagine a hell darker than that,” Elliot wrote.

Why did Rose and Li Chin only wake up to their sons’ severe mental problems at the 12th hour? Is it, as Rose said, the power of denial, especially when a mother is concerned?

Or, do disturbed young people have the ability to successfully—and continuously—hide their addictions and other mental problems. And, is their ability so masterful that it also helps them hide their illnesses (or, at least their plans) from experienced, certified therapists?

You don’t need a PhD in psychology to know that young people who feel deep rejection (either from their parents or their peers) often turn these feelings into anger, both self-loathing and repugnance of others who they perceive are their “enemies.” We’ve been hearing, for example, about more and more young men, like Elliot, who turn against women who reject them. A 16-year-old, Connecticut high school student was stabbed to death, in April, by a classmate after she rejected his invitation to go to the prom.

Although I certainly don’t have the answers to the questions I posed a couple of paragraphs ago, I think it’s our responsibility as parents to try and get a handle on our children’s psyches. I realize this is an especially tall order today, as communication with our children is often limited to texts and emails. We also may be at work when a teenage child comes home from school, and then he or she stays behind closed doors most of the evening. And we’re just too tired to start a dialog.

I imagine there are parents around the country who are getting together to reinforce one another and address issues such as these. If there aren’t, it’s high time to start.

Elliot Rodger’s final You Tube video explaining what he was about to do—and why.

Please let me know your thoughts on this

Who Is Your CC Bloom?

In one of the episodes of the successful TV sitcom, Two and A Half Men, playboy Charlie Harper (played by actual playboy, Charlie Sheen) “attends” his own funeral. Many of his former girlfriends file into the pews for the joy of heckling the deceased jingle writer for his philandering ways and to celebrate his demise. Even Charlie’s mother and brother have little good to say about him.

In Beaches, the popular 1988 tearjerker, CC Bloom (brilliantly portrayed by Bette Midler) learns that her childhood friend, Hillary (played by Barbara Hershey), is dying. CC puts her career and life on hold to comfort Hillary in her final months.

Of course, none of us wants to be like Charlie. But who among us doesn’t hope to have at least one CC Bloom in our life, a close friend or relative who would stop everything to be with us until the very end? And don’t we like to think we’d be a CC to someone dear to us?

It distresses me when I see others rushing out to visit relatives, former friends or acquaintances whom they haven’t seen in years, just because they are terminally ill. I’ll also never understand anyone who must show up at funerals, to “pay their respects,” especially because they didn’t respect the deceased when they were very much alive.

Why do death, sickness, and other unfortunate circumstances, turn some people into our best friends
and closest relatives?

Do they suddenly become kind because they’re relieved they aren’t sick… or dead? Are they guilty that they haven’t been in touch and wish to redeem themselves? Do they genuinely believe that their ostensibly kind gestures and mere presence will show them off in a good light?

Give of yourself and your time with those you love, when you’re all alive and healthy. That’s when you really score points! On the other hand, if you didn’t like someone enough to connect with them in decades, you won’t get extra credit for making a cameo appearance near the end.