I was sitting inside the airport in Punta Cana, feet up on top of my carry-on, smoking a Cuban cigar. A tarmac worker had accidentally damaged our plane and we were waiting for Frontier to get a replacement to us from Florida. We were already a full day into the delay. I was taking a mental health break.
Some of our fellow passengers were totally detached, almost victim-like, waiting to be told when and how they would get to go home. Some used technology to track the new plane as well as Frontier’s public statements. And then there were the travelers who felt compelled to exemplify every stereotype of the Ugly American. Loud. Pushy. Aggressive. Bigger, taller, and older than the Dominican workers, they spent most of the last 24 hours berating, bullying, and demanding answers to questions that couldn’t be answered.
Me? I was privately thanked for diffusing some of the tension and relaying info when available.
Don’t get me wrong, I am still very much the type A that I’ve always been. But today, as I turn 60, I would like to believe that I have found a way to use my assertiveness more constructively.
One of the benefits of decades of published articles is the ability to check previous milestones. In print at forty, I was spitting fire and taking no prisoners. At fifty I was still searching for a smoother path, but there was an underlying sense of hope and optimism. Even the run up to today, last year’s birthday post, is available to prove or disprove any argument for personal growth.
The last ten years have been my best. Sure the travel was incredible. I visited Israel (twice!), Australia, China, and vacationed in the Caribbean almost a dozen times. But changing my travel partner had significantly more impact than where I went. Sally is positive. She has neither the sense of entitlement nor the dark clouds that had for so long taken up additional space in my home. Freed of that negativity we were allowed to have good experiences that seemed great and exceptional experiences that became phenomenal. Where you start can have a huge impact on where you finish.
I did learn something from racing – Pole Position Matters.
Some of you may be quick to point out that 2005 and 2006 were pretty bumpy. Those were transitional years. I learned to say NO in my 50’s and I finally learned the value of eliminating toxic people from my life. As a natural problem solver and fixer, I have, metaphorically, jumped into the water to save people all of my life. But how many times did the saved immediately choose to play in traffic? It took a while, and I have had a set-back or two, but I slowly shed the unpleasant and the self-destructive.
My 50’s allowed me to pursue one of my ideals, transparency. As I worked to eliminate any personal secrets, I accidently disarmed those whose weapon of choice is the whisper. I’d like to claim that it was all part of a grand plan. It wasn’t, just a happy accident. It became increasingly easier to stare down bogus moral authorities and the rulers of miniature fiefdoms once they lost the power of rumor and innuendo.
I learned in my 50’s that it is perfectly alright to have only one common interest with someone. It is OK to be art show friends or to only agree on the CAVS. I became better focused on where lives and interests intersected and less concerned about divergent paths. I don’t really care if you are a Strenuously Conservative Evangelical or a Liberal Atheist as long as you are under no illusions that I can be sold your belief system. Stay in your lane and we can share our common interests, even if the only interest is in the fun of a good philosophical conversation. Fail to respect my personal space and you’ll be forced to find a new sparring partner.
I discovered that I no longer had the time to make excuses for ANYONE.
I enter my sixties surprisingly calm with the hope of health for myself, my family, and my readers. I have good friends, wonderful children, and a business partner that keeps me grounded. CUNIX Version 6.0 could be the best one yet.