Monday, August 8, 2011

Super Powers

For a few of my childhood summers, I often visited my Great Aunt Velma and Great Uncle Howard, who lived in the Senior Citizen Trailer Park in Clinton, Michigan.  While the main attraction was use of the park pool, Great Aunt Velma always provided cookies, cake and ice cream after the swim. 

"Wow, Aunt Velma!  Was that what it was like when YOU were young?" Her place was filled with crocheted items and antiques and I loved how she and Great Uncle Howard were able to attach some meaning to each old thing with a great story of times gone by. When you are a kid, old things are cool and mysterious – a key to another world.  Never did I suspect I would be the one with the key.

These days, I go antiquing with my kids, who are constantly asking, "What is THAT and what's it FOR?"  The last time we went, I realized that I was answering that question ALOT and, surprisingly, I seemed to know what everything was on the shelf and what it was used for and I even heard myself say, "I had one of THESE!" with the lilting voice of Aunt Velma.

Somewhere along the line of time, the items in the antique store started to shift from being old and mysterious to being something a little too familiar.  Similarly, I have noticed lately that people around me have shifted their attitude toward me.  Gone are the days of silver haired smiles and the reply, "You young people are so cute!"  Now the discussion inevitably touches upon fascination and appreciation with MY "experience."  Not my work experience or my educational experience or my experience as a crocheter, but my "life experience."

Huh?  At what point did other people start to assume that I would have "life experience?"  While I always highlight the wisdom that comes with personal experience in cover letters, that is a tool to hopefully get an interview.  I know I don't look 35 any more, and that I am wearing the same clothes I wore when I WAS 35.  However, they allllll seem to know that I have enough "life experience" in my well to be able to dip in, sift through a large amount of contents, and find something that surely will apply to this or any other situation.

At first, I found this discovery alarming.  When did I become some one else?  Where did my young self go?  And more importantly, how do I stop it? After a few incidents, I resigned myself to the fact that time will march on and push me ahead of it. Being the opportunist I am, I found a way to capitalize on time's cruel shove-o-rama. When asked to share my well-reasoned and well-seasoned rationale for why something is the way it is, I quickly discovered that I can construct a justification that may be, while advantageous to me, completely fabricated from my own unique imagination.  To this date, I am batting 1000.  The nugget of wisdom is swallowed with relish and I have discovered a new superpower, the power of  "Geriatric Hypnosis."

After objectively pondering my new ability and analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of this awesome key to happiness, I have managed to pinpoint a few guidelines as I don my silver and black cape:

~       As with all super powers, Geriatric Hypnosis must only be used for good, never evil.  There is a dark brotherhood of evil doers with this discovery who have induced millions of people, referred to as "the American voter," to willingly hand over their own powers of reasoning, common sense, and ambition.  The rest of us must stay vigilant to counteract this dark use of the power.

~       In keeping with the first consideration above, I recognize that "evil" is a pretty relative term so, if you need to use it to get your kids to go to bed early or talk some one into going to the move that YOU want to see, it's ok.

~       In order for the power to be effective, the superhero must quickly evaluate whether or not the proposed hypnotic subject would be susceptible.  If the power is used on some one too old or too young or a teenager with an attitude, it will be deflected as they are immune.  A superhero who is hit with his own Geriatric Hypnosis can become confused, disoriented, and delusional.

~       Geriatric Hypnosis only works when the subject is unaware that it is being administered.  Delivery, creativity, and frequency are necessary, but must be balanced.  In other words, you have to look like you know what you're talking about.  If you can't do it with WHAT you say, body language is key.

~       The power of Geriatric Hypnosis it short lived, especially in those who recognize it early and make frequent use of its power.  Peak power years are between the ages of 45 and 55, depending on how masterfully he or she harnesses the power.  It is inevitable, however, that those who are subjected to Geriatric Hypnosis eventually discover that they are being benignly bamboozled.

Like other children, I knew I was destined for greatness (see "The Size and Shape of Our Legacy"). My idea of greatness has changed over the years; perhaps to make myself feel better or maybe just because I misunderstood it when I was young.  Never did I suspect, however, that I would possess a power that could change the world; now I know that to be the truth.  Did Aunt Velma use Geriatric Hypnosis?  Does it matter?  She definitely changed the world in a good way for this little girl and we all should strive to do the same with our own super powers.  Where's my cape?