Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Who Said Life's Fair?

Still thinking about Outliers -- Gladwell is trying hard to define many of the factors that determine how individuals act and whether or not they achieve "success." He offers a more complex picture than usual but leaves out genetics to a large extent and matters of physical health, probably leaves out other factors too. But he's trying and it's something I've been trying to understand as well so I'm still mulling what he has to say.

I'm also looking at a somewhat random sample of women who are part of an internet site's "forum" for women over 50. The variety of matters that are brought up is broad but most of it leaves me thinking I am very fortunate and vis a vie Gladwell's thought, it's hard to know what other than genetics makes me feel that way. At the big 5-0 or 6-0 or 7-0 health becomes a prominent factor. On this forum just in the last month all these things have come up:

a uterine cancer scare that has turned out to be only "precancer" -- the new scare tactic leading to a hysterectomy but no radiation.

a mother died suddenly of an anuerism - no warning

a woman had to put down her beloved dog of 17 years because it was in serious pain

a woman discovered she has sleep apnea and has been prescribed a kind of oxygen mask to sleep in every night.

a woman realized the reason she's been losing her temper lately is because she hasn't been checking her blood sugar and controlling her diabetes -- taking care of live-in grandchildren instead.

a woman went off pain meds, onto a trial of a new drug, discovered she felt good three days, then sank into pain, depression and sucidal ideation for four; decided to get off the trial when pattern repeated three or four weeks

Several have had their Christmas plans changed due to cancelled flight or cars buried in snow

It goes on -- this is not a whining, bitchy bunch, these are active women, many working, all involved with family and other interests. There are good things but an astonishing amount of physical problems. That is why I feel my genetics are holding up well. Plus it seems that living alone, doing my own things makes my life easier, less complicated and allows me an amount of freedom that I enjoy -- although others might find it lonely or empty ... but they wouldn't if they were me and had the same experiences I've had.

Well, one thing that excellent novels do is explore the human condition. A life of reading the best I can has given me perspective, as well as reading extensively in things like Gladwell, and writers like Pema Chodron, reading poets, and so on. Finally what we think matters, and we think the way we do partly because of the things we read or do to keep our minds occupied. If it's hours of solitaire or romance novels or reality TV -- I could go on -- that will color how we see the world and ourselves in it. Simplistic - "Plain as the nose on you face" yes, but we don't see our noses unless we look in a mirror.

The photo: a mild feeding frenzy in a koi pond -- a much replicated Chinese embroidery design.

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