We assign labels. We are given labels. We form attachments to the labels we give and the labels we are given. Labels become both badges of honor and weapons of deliberate destruction. We acquiesce to labels’ implications about us. We comply with their implications about others by behaving accordingly.
Democrat. Republican. Liberal. Conservative. Religious. Irreligious. Assertive. Timid. Libtard. Right-wingnut. RINO. And so on.
Labels offer short-cuts that sometimes fail to accomplish their intent, which is to provide a brief summary of a longer explanation. But they can be used to mislead, as well, offering an erroneous description of the matter being explained. I use labels as often as anyone, I suppose. But when I think of how they can be (and often are) misused, I am embarrassed by my laziness; instead of taking the time and finding the words to be clear and precise, I sometimes opt for imprecise shorthand. Or, even worse, precise but intentionally biased shorthand. Once a person recognizes how easy it is to misuse labels, he faces a choice. And that’s the unfortunate problem.
My car has new oil and a new oil filter. The tires have been rotated. But the noise of concern remains, its source unknown to the mechanic and to me. I may take the car back and ride with the mechanic (who, I was told, heard the sound but could not determine its source). Or I may take the vehicle somewhere else. I doubt the sound indicates a serious problem, but until I know its genesis, I will be a bit concerned. These little annoyances sometimes are responsible for changing my mind; maybe I SHOULD look at replacing my vehicle. Ach! I want a car that’s small on the outside and very large inside. A vehicle that rides as smooth as a soft cloud, but delivers the feel of the road and a sense of absolute control like a Formula 1 racecar. The exterior of the car can appear bland and unremarkable, but its interior must be plush, luxurious, and pampering in the extreme; the transportation equivalent of the presidential suite in an upscale spa-hotel. All this for less than $30,000. Hmm. Methinks I’m dreaming.
Two hours until I participate in a practice with a group of geezers, where we will collectively give an organ recital, describing the recent, current, and planned medical analyses and procedures that accompany the decay of advanced age. I sometimes wonder how many of us in the breakfast group would be here if not for modern medicine. In days of yore, several of the ailments I have experienced could have killed me: lung cancer, Crohn’s disease, clogged arteries in the heart that required bypasses, and others that do not come immediately to mind. I seriously wonder how many in my sphere of friends and acquaintances would be alive today if not for the “magic” of medicine. Many minor afflictions today essentially would have been death warrants a few centuries ago. The average life expectancy in 18th century England was between 25 and 40. Our longevity, on the average as a species, may be nearing its maximum. I doubt average lifespan will reach 100. At least I do not expect to live to see it. Giving the matter some focused thought makes me think; at this stage of my life, I should live what is left to the fullest. But what, exactly, does that mean? It does not necessarily mean going surfing in Hawaii or diving in the Caribbean or making weekly trips to the Colorado Rockies during skiing season. Behaving as if one is younger than one’s years is an invitation to physical damage, which tends to heal slower as we age. But sitting in a rocking chair, never leaving the confines of one’s yard, is just as dangerous—if not worse. “Living life to its fullest” deserves some attention; its attributes should be defined very precisely for each person. I will give that more thought.
Almost three hours have passed since I awoke. The day is getting a little long in the tooth…well, that’s an exaggeration. But, still, I’ve been awake since before daylight. All I’ve accomplished is feeding the cat, taking my morning handful of colorful pills, making and drinking a cup of coffee, and spilling this superfluous string of letters all over the screen. Will that be my legacy? I will give that more thought, too.