Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sue's Corner

A message from Red Hat Society Founder and Exalted Queen Mother Sue Ellen Cooper:

Is slowing down as one gets older necessarily a bad thing? An average young person would probably say yes (but that might well be because they haven't taken time - slowed down enough - to think through their answer). It seems that slowing down, for any reason, implies loss of vigor, fatigue or diminished interest or engagement with life. How many active people have you heard declare that they don't plan to ever slow down? (Have you even said it yourself?) But can slowing down be a good thing?

Consider the following experiment, staged by the "Washington Post," which took place a few years ago: One of the greatest living violinists, Joshua Bell, dressed casually (and anonymously) in a baseball cap and nondescript clothing, stood near a post in Washington D.C. Metro station and played hauntingly beautiful music on his violin. Few people stopped to listen, although a few slowed their pace a little, and some dropped dollar bills into the can at his feet. Several children - obviously captivated - tried to pull their hurried parents to stop, but none succeeded. After an hour, Mr. Bell quietly packed up and left the station.

Tickets to hear him play in a concert hall regularly sell for $100. The violin he has been playing was valued at $3,500,000; the music he had chosen was some of the most intricate and demanding ever written. But, because the performance took place in an unexpected, unexceptional venue, nobody slowed down enough to really listen. They just weren't expecting anything special; therefore, they didn't notice it when it was right in front of them. What does that say about the culture of urgency that most of us live with?

Almost all of us - even those of us who are retired - rush around like crazy people, always hurrying on to the next "important" thing. What if we gave a little thought to constructive slowing down, to give ourselves a moment or two to notice, and possibly appreciate the beautiful, the interesting, the unexpected? What you want to bet that it's there?

In the spirit of taking time to appreciate the things that really matter, I would like to make sure every Red Hat Society Member knows how much we at Hatquarters appreciate them. After all, you are the heart and soul of the Society, and every single one of you is special.



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