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Friday, September 29, 2017

HOW TO AVOID TMI [F, 9-29-17]

CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith from the Heart of Winter for the Years of Winter… ©

 I am reading a book on health for older people. It’s a good book. I’m learning from it. But the author likes trees, and he has learned a great deal about them, sometimes traveling great distances to do so. He cannot resist putting into this book all the tree knowledge he has learned. In writing, it’s called “an information dump.”

There is no logical place in this book to talk about trees. They have nothing to do with the health concerns of older people, but that has not stopped the author. He has put in everything he knows about trees and tried to justify it by saying, at the end of several pages, that just as the weather-beaten look of old trees indicates wisdom, there is nothing wrong with old people looking old.

Writers and old folks are similar that way. Some writers cannot resist showing you everything they have learned in their research, whether it fits or not. Some old people cannot resist telling you everything they have learned in their many years, whether you are interested or not. For short, we call it TMI: Too Much Information.

We geezers should know better than to engage in, and indulge in, TMI. We are old enough to remember TV’s Sgt. Joe Friday, who always intoned, “Just the facts, ma’am.”

Perhaps we old people are so voluble because we don’t have many occasions to talk to real people.

When we were working, when the kids lived at home and we attended their games and concerts and teacher conferences, when there were parties and neighborhood gatherings, we had plenty of chances to chat. We didn’t have to say at one time everything we know.

Now, especially if we live alone, how often do we talk to someone? Our friends and family send us emails. Even the banks and car companies that want our business and the politicians who want our vote use robots to call us on the phone. If we call some business, an automated voice tells us to press different numbers so we can be ignored in the appropriate way. We don’t go to work, but the neighbors do, so even walking down the street, we aren’t likely to see someone to talk to.

It’s no surprise, then, that when the cashier at the grocery or the library lady says “Good morning,” we think she is asking about our grandchildren and wants to know what we thought about the snow storm of 1963. We readily supply TMI.

Some old people solve this dilemma by seeking out other old people to talk to. After all, they have plenty of time to listen. That’s a poor solution, though, because other old people don’t want to listen; they want to talk. And they can be so borrring, telling us way more than we need to know.

I think the obvious answer is a time-honored tradition of old people–talking to ourselves. Who better to listen to? Who could possibly listen to us with more eagerness? Anything we say is never TMI; it’s always just the right amount.


I tweet as yooper1721.

I have often extolled my old friend, Walt Wagener, as one who is expert at “blooming where he’s planted.” Once when I did so, Helen said, “I want to bloom BEFORE I’m planted.” So I started writing a book of meditations for old people, sort of like my book for cancer patients. I called it BLOOM BEFORE YOU’RE PLANTED. I was never able to get an agent or publisher to be interested in the idea, though, so I’m now using some of the “chapters” for that book in this blog.

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