The Candle or The Mirror

A candle with flames in front of a mirror.

🎯I think many of us have difficulty “living on life’s terms.” How often do we complain about the perceived misery that appears quietly in our path? Someone we care about is sick, our car needs repairs to make it safe to drive, or our home requires maintenance. Sometimes, our health is in jeopardy, and many doctors and nurses are needed to correct the problem. 

Often, it’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. I’m guilty of lumping all my problems into one basket, making them all equally serious when some are not as pressing as others. So, I have changed my outlook and turned my troubles into challenges. By making that simple change, I have changed an unfavorable view into a positive one. Admittedly, having a cheerful outlook on severe health or financial problems is challenging. Still, the options are whether to approach them with eagerness and determination or worry.

I must admit that two of my neighbors fighting cancer brought on my change. We all know that cancer is a severe and life-threatening battle. From my observations, these two people are living life on life’s terms and accept their daily struggles with courage and determination. I had carotid artery surgery a few weeks ago, and I used these two ladies as inspiration. By doing so, I’ve been able to remove any lingering worry about what could go wrong after surgery. My doc says there is a 2% chance of complications, and those odds are good, but what sustains me is my Christian faith and the inspiration of my two neighbors. Edith Wharton said, “There are two ways of spreading light: be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it.” My two neighbors are the candle, and I’m gonna be the mirror 😊.

🎯 A resident of our retirement village started a “Writers Club” a few weeks ago, and I joined it. About ten of us are eager to share our writing talent and learn something that will make us better at scribbling our thoughts on a blank piece of paper. My friend, Jane, wrote a story titled “I Am Still Me,” for the class I attended, and I was so moved by the thought and emotion she put into that beautiful article. I enjoyed it so much that I posted it on my website for everyone to enjoy ( Of course, I asked her permission before doing so, and she politely gave it.

Many of us write letters to friends and loved ones, keeping open a line of communication that lends value to our relationships. All of us write, some a lot more than others, but we all express our thoughts on paper. Often, it’s a card that shows our joy at a special event (birthday, anniversary, etc.).

I have a cousin back home (Grundy, VA) who sends my wife and me a monthly letter. Mike always warns us his writing is not perfect and that he hopes we can read it. My good friend does not realize that we warmly welcome his thoughts into our lives. He provides us with updates on what’s happening within our family and other tidbits of interesting information. He keeps me connected to an extended family that’s far away. I hope that what I’m doing with my writing is keeping in touch with family and friends far removed from my environment but with whom I still want to be involved in my life. The most unfortunate thing about writing is that you seldom get feedback. There is a smattering of responses, but mostly, few do. I think that’s something writers get used to, believing that those we write to are enjoying our thoughts and opinions; they just don’t have the time to respond. I’m guessing it’s a little like when I buy something from Amazon, and they continually want me to rate their service 😊. I often ask my readers if they want to be removed from my mailing list, and few have requested that be done, so I’m encouraged by that. Oh, I forgot to mention that in the Writers Club’s last gathering, we were tasked to write three short stories of about 850 words for our meeting this month. I’m gonna try to squeeze in two 😊. Maybe, I should follow Joan Didion’s advice, “Do not whine… Do not complain. Work harder. Spend more time alone.” Geez, I thought I had spent enough time alone!

🎯 My wife and I went to the Seafood Festival of the small town we used to live in (Poquoson, VA). Because of Covid, they have not held it for a couple of years, so we were eager to attend. It started on a Friday and ended on Sunday. People came from many miles away to attend, and everyone had fun. There were food tents everywhere, and art & craft tents abounded. There was entertainment, usually a big-name band on Saturday night, and a place for the kids to cavort. We always purchase something while there, and this visit was no exception. We had planned to eat lunch, but they didn’t have the fried oysters we enjoy, so we wandered over to the soft-serve ice cream tent and plopped down $15 for two plastic cups of their delicious offerings. The young woman working behind the counter said to my wife, “What do you want, sweetheart?” and she promptly told her. She then turned to me, and I calmly asked her, “how did you know that’s what I call my wife?”. She replied anyone could tell that she was a “Sweetheart.” I agreed that was indeed a correct statement.

 I think many men have pet names for their wives & girlfriends, but I haven’t noticed that so much with women. Maybe men don’t take too kindly to being called pet names. Perhaps it, somehow, takes away from their masculinity? My wife said the soft-serve lady called me “Honey,” but I was unaware of it. Three hours later, having walked over two miles, per our Fitbit, we headed for our car and home, exhausted from weaving around several thousand people, all determined to have a good time. On our way home, we quickly calculated how much we had spent while there, and it was close to $100. Regardless of how tired we were or the money spent, we had a good time, and that was the purpose of the trip.

I think it’s essential that we have something to look forward to, if not every day, then at least every week. Sometimes, that’s hard to do, but we must not forget to make it happen. The past month has been a whirlwind for us, with each of us having surgery. But that’s behind us now, we have a one day trip planned for next week and a trip up north (PA, CT, NY) to visit family and friends at the end of the month. We know the time will come when we’ll be too old to travel, but it hasn’t arrived yet thank goodness. Richard Restak (neurologist) said, “We are what we can remember.” Richard should know that we are really trying to make memories, and so far, we can remember most of them 😊.