|French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette 1873-1954|
Like choosing a sapphire blue dress to wear out, mincing in front of the mirror and judging it a 'good choice', but then realizing that it rides up beyond all modest areas of your body under the coat you're wearing, forcing you to execute a subtle but rigorous mambo as your date removes your wrap so the other dinner patrons won't get a glimpse of your good china.
Or wearing a pair of hose that have a tiny pull at the top, thinking it will hold, and then ending up with a two inch ragged ladder down your outer leg that's so horrific the only thing that will save you is putting a quick safety pin through your left nostril and saying you sing on Tuesday nights with The Death Rattles.
Young people are great at being utterly indifferent when good ideas go bad. They backpack in foreign countries without money and yet in all their photographs they have enormous "Best Day EVER" smiles on their faces. They move to a new city without a job, without an apartment, but the Good Idea/Bad Idea fairy smiles down on them and it somehow turns out okay. Oh, and their response to either one of those fashion faux pas above? A healthy bout of hilarity. I love those people! I envy those people! I was one of those people, once upon a time. Now, not so much.
This devil may care attitude is hard-wired into a young person's DNA. Good idea turns bad? So what! Consider it an ADVENTURE! But embracing good ideas gone wrong can turn to hand-wringing when a person nears his or her fifties. (Earlier if they have a child, buy a house, or get a pet... then the line from insouciance to worry-wart is crossed in anywhere from five minutes to a year from the time you leave the delivery room, lawyer's office, or shelter, respectively.)
I've been on both sides of the line. Before owning a house I would run out on the porch where I lived and grin wildly at the hurricane winds sheering down the road (while my landlord was no doubt hunkered down by candlelight studying his insurance waiver for the house). And even the ear infection I contracted whilst sleeping outside at Stonehenge one summer didn't dim the sheer crazy joy of the experience. Now? Now I stand on my own verandah, wincing as I watch the merest gale-force wind blow through the maples that overshadow my new roof. And although I am game to sleep on all manner of floors, daybeds, couches and even upright in chairs at night, my sleeping-on-the-ground days are over, I'm afraid. It would seem fun, so much so that I might even consider it in the right circumstances and with the right people, but it would give new meaning to a good idea turned terribly, terribly wrong.
It's shame we can't maintain some of that "OH WELL" attitude in our middle to twilight years and take more risks and be more whimsical and learn to distinguish between what should worry us and what we should flick off our minds like a piece of lint on our shoulder. Sometimes it takes a life event to make us realize that everything isn't really a crisis. That we can make mistakes, have good ideas go wrong, take risks, and laugh instead of cry when things don't turn out the way we'd hoped. And that, my friend, is a true silver lining playbook.
I am not one for making conscious resolutions, but I'm convinved that as the years pass by, it's a sign of wisdom to try to regain that sense of mischief I had as a younger person. To laugh at myself more when I become the victim of my own (or others') bad ideas. To splash through a few of life's puddles more often knowing there's always a dry pair of socks waiting at home. To embrace ideas that might be slightly hair-brained without worrying so much about the outcome.
Home perms and dye jobs are the possible exception.... although you never know. Looking like an aging Colette might be fun. For awhile, anyway.