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Old Anima: Unique Resources for Older Adults - Dec. 4, 2021

Old Anima: Unique Resources for Older Adults
Old Anima: Unique Resources for Older Adults - Dec. 4, 2021
By George Lorenzo • Issue #19 • View online
Welcome to the Dec. 4, 2021 issue of Old Anima.
Please feel free to contact me anytime.
George
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Uncertainty Reigns
I really don’t know what to think anymore. COVID cases are back to their highest numbers in my county when in May/June/July they were down to almost zero. Today alone there were 258 cases, so we are basically back to the similar number of cases we had last year at this time. However, the number of deaths has diminished greatly to much lower levels, due primarily to folks getting vaccinated. Nonetheless, positive tests have gone from 1.5% in late February/early-March 2021 to 8.3% in mid-November. And now with Omicron we are entering a new phase of uncertainty.
I’m very disturbed by the anti-vaxx movement. I just can’t see their logic, and I feel they are basically people who only care about themselves. Has anyone noticed that the ant-vaxxers never mention the fact that 80% of all the people in the hospitals for COVID-19 are unvaccinated? Or, if they do address this fact, they say the percentage is false. That has grave consequences for everyone primarily because it puts hospitals at risk of overflowing, which is happening right now in Southeast Michigan where I live, as well as in many other places across the world. 
Unfortunately, there does not seem to be much anyone can do about it. These folks simply don’t realize that freedom requires responsibility. When I see parents, in particular, screaming at each other at school board meetings, I shake my head in extreme disappointment. All the individuals who have no idea what they are talking about spouting off over microphones – what a shame.
But this is life now in the post-truth 2020s. We have reached new heights of ignorance and lies – all one has to do is look at the proponents of the Big Lie and you can see what I mean. “The world has never been here before,” President Biden said as he celebrated passing of the infrastructure bill.
Hopefully the second bill - the Build Back Better budget reconciliation bill - will pass and people will start seeing positive results, providing that the economy bounces back stronger than ever (and we don’t go into hyperinflation), COVID dissipates, and a future wave of optimism carries us into the win column.
But things are looking pretty dismal, at least for the moment. “This is a confusing time,” Biden added. “This is a process,” he said repeatedly. It’s easy to agree with those two statements. 
Forebodingly, the latest prognostications are that the Dems are going to lose the house, senate and presidency in big margins in the 2022 and 2024 elections. I hope those predictions are dead wrong, but right now they look to be spot on. The Dems did a bad job of showing the sausage making and not getting the infrastructure bill passed before the Virginia governor race. They did a bad job in Virginia by focusing on 45 instead of local issues. They did a horrible job in Afghanistan. Inflation woes are growing. The supply chain is screwed up. And one interesting theory is that the more people see Biden on TV, the more they disapprove of him, which is another reason why his ratings keep plummeting. Plus, he is typically late in addressing key issues, as he comes on stage to speak after things have started to go badly instead of nipping them in the bud. 
Despite all the bad news, I can’t stomach even worse news if we end up seeing McCarthy leading the House and McConnel leading the Senate again – that would be tragic to say the least. All they know how to do is vote “no” on everything of substance – no on reducing prescription cost, no on helping the poor; no on mandating vaccines, no on gun control; no on voting rights; no on parental leave; no on equal taxes on the wealthiest Americans; but, of course, yes on less taxes for the wealthiest Americans. And all their talk about us becoming a socialist country is rubbish.   
I keep telling myself to not pay attention to politics anymore – if only for peace of mind – but I can’t. I keep thinking there is going to be some kind of extreme revolt next year in the summer before elections – with both sides, right and left, battling things out in violent skirmishes across the country. It’s certainly easy to see how violence is increasingly creeping into all our cities and towns and is reminiscent of the late sixties and early seventies. And our gun laws are making things much worse. I think it’s important to keep watching how this may or may not play out. One thing for sure, I have not been very good at making predictions. Interestingly, I think it is probably good that 45 is still around voicing the Big Lie because that frame of thinking could very well bring the GOP down in the end. People know it’s a lie, even the folks purporting that it is true – go figure.
And why do we allow Bannon to defy the rule of law and be out on no bail? Hopefully he’ll be behind bars in due time, where he belongs, along with Stone, Flynn, Powell, Giuliani, Eastman, Clark, and others like them, including the freaky My Pillow Guy – what a piece of work. Is there no rule of law anymore? Surely if you or I decided to not show up for a subpoena from Congress, we’d be in jail in a heartbeat. To voice the obvious, all you need is a good lawyer team to circumvent the consequences of any illegal and morally wrong behavior. We have seen this happen repeatedly for decades, Evidentially nothing much has changed.
And I still stand by my prediction that neither 45 nor Biden will run in 2024, and Harris does not seem to be the right candidate for many people, although I do think she is an extremely smart person who could do the job. My prediction is that someone else is going to come along that will show greater likeability across a wide swath of diverse Americans, and that person could come from any party and may even be an independent. We shall see. 
Can We Think Again?
In line with all of this nonsense, I have been reading Adam Grant’s recently published Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know. “We’re entitled to hold opinions inside our own heads,” he writes. “If we choose to express them out loud, though, I think it’s our responsibility to ground them in logic and facts, share our reasoning with others, and change our minds when better evidence emerges.” He adds, “In a heated argument, you can always stop and ask, ‘What evidence would change your mind?’ If the answer is ‘nothing,’ then there’s no point in continuing the debate. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it think.”
At the same time – and seemingly diametrically opposed to his previous statement, Grant provides another case in point by inadvertently addressing the issue of mandating people to get vaccinated. Here, he writes that “The goal isn’t to tell people what to do; it’s to help them break out of overconfidence cycles and see new possibilities. Our role is to hold up a mirror so they can see themselves more clearly, and then empower them to examine their beliefs and behaviors. That can activate a rethinking cycle, in which people approach their own views more scientifically. They develop more humility about their knowledge, doubt in their convictions, and curiosity about alternative points of view.” Unfortunately, so far that strategy hasn’t quite worked out so well these days – hence, the reason why the current administration is pushing mandates. 
On another plane of existence, I’ve also been reading The Monastic Heart: 50 Simple Practices for a Contemplative and Fulfilling Life, by Joan Chittister. In particular, the chapters that address solitude were appealing to me, since I’ve been living solitarian-like for almost two years now, except for my interactions with immediate family, and a few friends and business associates online. I’ve taken social distancing quite seriously since I have comorbidities, and I have adapted quite well to staying in my home on a 24/7 basis. I was just starting to contemplate going back to my daily Mall walks, for instance, until the Delta variant arrived - and now we have Omicron, so nothing much has changed for me since the pandemic started. 
There are benefits to living solitarian-like. Chittister writes that “Solitude is not an escape from life; it is the kind of immersion in quiet that enables us to look beyond the daily density of our lives. In solitude we begin to see things we hadn’t really noticed before.” In addition, “Solitude is a spiritual vacation for the soul. It gives us spiritual relief to finally be free to think deeply about the unending unanswerable questions that haunt us by the day, both personal and spiritual, both private and global.”
Goodbyes in Old Age
And finally, I’d like to point to a recent article in Next Avenue that hit home for me headlined How Do We Say Goodbye to Our Former Lives? by Bob Brody, who asks “How are we supposed to say goodbye to our favorite friends and personal landmarks? Do we hold a party? Embark on a farewell tour? Ask the CDC for guidelines?”
Brody moved to a small town in Italy with his wife, daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter after living in New York City since 1975. Her refers to an article he read in 2019 headlined Saying Goodbye and Saying It Well where he was introduced to what’s referred to as “a well-rounded ending, defined as an ending marked by a sense of proper closure… The researchers said an ending is ‘well-rounded’ if ‘the person feels that he or she has done everything that they could have done, that they have completed something to the fullest, and that all loose ends have been tied up.’ The authors also demonstrated that a well-rounded ending facilitates ‘higher positive affect, fewer regrets, and easier transitions into the next life phase.’”
Still working all those projects I have yet to complete and all those loose ends, but that’s all part of the journey if you are a conscientious person.  
Thanks for stopping by,
George
 
 
 
 
Did you enjoy this issue?
George Lorenzo

The word "Anima" has a variety of definitions. Here it simply means “soul,” or one’s individuality, or one’s inner essence. An old soul has a finely tuned compassionate, tolerant, and magnanimous nature. Old Anima provides information, in a variety of forms, that can be helpful for older adults (and young souls, too), by drawing mostly from humanity’s stock of wise philosophers and scientists.

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Ann Arbor, Michigan