Friday, January 30, 2015

Question Everything by Diane Burton

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to not stop questioning. ~ Albert Einstein

Words to live by—especially not to stop questioning. Do you remember the Sixties? (either personally or what you’ve read) We were such a “horrible” generation. So disillusioned by the Establishment. We dared to question authority. “Because I said so” didn’t cut it for us. Even worse when it came from people we were supposed to respect. Government, organized religion, Big Business. “Don’t trust anyone over thirty.” LOL

We grew up cynical, just knowing we were being lied to. Even when we weren’t. Worse when we could say “I told you so.” Questioning authority led to many arguments, even estrangement, within families. It also led to protest marches, riots, major disruptions of large assemblies (like the Democratic National Convention).

I’m pretty sure that type of questioning was not what Einstein referred to. While I’m not a flower child anymore (never was, actually), I haven’t stopped asking why. Or what if. Isn’t that what writers do? We want our readers to ask why, to leave them wondering what happens next when they finish our books. But first we have to ask those questions ourselves. What came before the story starts? Why do our characters act the way they do? What in their past formed their attitudes? What will it take to make them change? Why?

I’ve always been a reader. I love learning something new. Maybe not everything, like when Microsoft changes something that was perfectly fine. I’ve never enjoyed reading non-fiction, but if I need a fact for a story or blog post, I’ll delve deep into the internet. I’m very curious about other people, cultures, worlds. Not only do I wonder if there is sentient life on other planets, I make up stories about them.

Yesterday, Glenys wrote about age and attitude. I just shake my head at my contemporaries who won’t try something new, won’t use a computer (or are afraid to try), or think they’re too old to learn a new skill. They may be the same chronological age I am, but they’re years older in their attitude. 

I’ve frequently mentioned my three “Moms”—my mother, mother-in-law, and her sister. They are ladies who traveled to Europe in their eighties and nineties. When Aunt Cora broke her wrist in her mid-nineties, she learned to use a microwave. You should have seen her amazement when she discovered microwave popcorn came with butter and salt already on it. If laptop computers had been cheaper then, I’ll bet she would have loved learning to use one. Here's a picture of the three of them at St. Moritz. They continued going on European tours for another seven or eight years.
Cora, 89; Dorothy, 74; Grace, 91
I hope when I’m in my nineties, I’m still asking why and what if. Still writing stories to answer those questions.

Diane Burton blogs here on the 8th and 30th of each month and on Mondays on her own site:


Margo Hoornstra said...

I want to be like your Moms when I grow up! Ah, yes. The sixties. Good times!

Diane Burton said...

I want to be like them, too, Margo.

Jannine Gallant said...

They were so lucky to have been physically (and mentally) able to get out there and explore in their senior years. We should all be so blessed!

Leah St. James said...

I want to be like you and your moms, too! In my "paycheck" job, I talk to many, many senior people (some not much older than I am), and I hear over and over, "I don't have a computer, and I don't want one! You need to remember there are people out there who aren't computer literate!" (This usually happens because we'll say to follow a story online, something like that.) I'm always respectful, even encouraging them to try out the library computers. They usually turn me down. Then I feel like telling them how sorry I am for them that they're missing out on so many wonderful opportunities. Great post, Diane.

Patricia Kiyono said...

I so agree, Diane! I'm having a ball trying to learn new things. It's amazing what we can do now. And traveling to places we've only heard about gets easier all the time. The ability to gain new experiences, meet new people, and see new sights is within our grasp. All we have to do is reach for it. Love the picture of your three moms. Hope I'm like them too! Great post.

Kristen Brockmeyer said...

What inspirational ladies! It's easy to see the influence they had on you.

Annie said...

Great blog post! Thanks Diane.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Awesome post. I'm a child of the sixties, which means I'm now an old broad in my sixties. I always told my children to never accept anything. To always ask "who are you and why should I believe anything you say? Make a person earn your trust."

As a writer, I find it humorous that from time to time that I get a bad review because I didn't explain everything. No I didn't. I wanted the reader to think a little. To imagine. To use their righteous minds. That seems to be too much work.

Loralee said...

Diane, you know me and you know I'm no spring chicken, but I'm determined to celebrate birthday #80 in Ireland this year. Back in the 60's, I was too busy raising a family to be adventurous. I've always loved traveling, though that's been curtailed a bit now. I try to learn something new every day, either by reading or social media. I'm trying hard to decide what I want to be when I grow up!

Annette said...

I started my adult life in the sixties. The best thing about the sixties was the fact that dissatisfied young people were "do-ers." When they cared, they didn't just complain, they lead the movement to improve things--like the Peace Corps.

Diane Burton said...

Wow, did I hit on the right topic today!

Loralee, you are an inspiration. Celebrating your 80th in Ireland. I just know you'll make it.

Vonnie, from one old broad to another. Right on. :)

Annette, do-ers is right.

Patty & Leah, I think our brains start dying when we stop learning.

My mom learned how to play an organ in her late 40s. Grace, my MIL learned to live alone for the 1st time in her life at 88. Aunt Cora renewed her driver's license at 99. They were strong women.

Barbara Edwards said...

My grandmother broke her first hip at 60, then the other at 62. The doctors told her she'd be in a wheelchair forever.she died at 86, painting the living room ceiling while standing on a ladder.
If you don't stop you can do wonders.

Lucy Naylor Kubash said...

Such amazing women in your family! You included. :) We went to a concert by the Moody Blues a few years ago and the drummer said he was 69 then. He said he loved it because he was able to live through the 60s again! I loved the 60s for many reasons. They taught us to not just accept the status quo but to embrace change. Plus there was some pretty fantastic music in that decade, and the first man on the moon. Great post!

Diane Burton said...

Barbara, your grandmother was amazing! She sure showed those docs.

Lucy, you are so right about the great music. Every time I hear a song from the 60s, I'm transported back to when I first heard it.

Alicia Dean said...

Great post, yes, curiosity is one thing that makes us writers. Loved the pic, what a great group of women!