No More Life Instructions, Please

I was playing Mahjongg with a friend the other day when she told me what I needed to do with my life: more working out at the fitness center, avoid eating certain foods, don’t play Mahjongg with the two ladies in our group that aren’t fast enough.

“You just can’t sit around writing all the time. You need to exercise every day,” she said.

I really like this woman, but I’m too old to hear advice from her, or anybody for that matter.

I know what I should do as far as keeping healthy. Whether or not I have the desire or willpower to do it is my business.

Just yesterday I listened to another friend of mine go on and on about her health problems. She had always been a runner and biker. She worked out with weights. Then she started having heart problems.

“I had to give up drinking,” she said. I waited for her to say that everyone should give up drinking, especially when they are past seventy. “I drink lots and lots of water—a full gallon when I first get up in the morning to re-hydrate. You need to do that too. It’s all about modifying your lifestyle.”

Is that right? I thought. I’m happy with my lifestyle. And sometimes no matter what you do you can’t fight heredity, water or not. So far, I’ve been lucky. My parents didn’t give me a beautiful face or a fantastic body that required little or no maintenance, but I seem to be holding up okay except for a few aches and pains.

Why is it that, as a society, we can’t seem to let others live their lives the way they want to.

We see it in the news all the time. A football player makes a speech about how some women should think about motherhood and family as their primary career. It’s his opinion. It was never my choice. I helped raise three wonderful stepchildren and had a career as a journalist and now a writer. Being a stay-at-home mom was not my thing, but I never criticized anyone who did that.

Do we women really need anyone telling us how and what to do? Did he give the men in the audience life instructions?

A celebrity, on a rant in New York City, tells me that I’m stupid if a vote this way or that. I was brought up to believe certain things. You believe others. I’m not going to tell you what your politics should be, and I don’t want you telling me how I ought to think, Mr. Movie Star.

I was singing along with a 1965 song by The Animals the other day. “It’s my life and I’ll do what I want. It’s my mind and I’ll think what I want.”

That’s a blast from the past worth listening to. Be yourself no matter what they say.

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