“If you’re worried about what other people think of you,
just remember this, most people are more concerned with
their slightest headache than with news of your impending death.”
Norman Vincent Peale
Thinking of You
People generally don’t notice things. If you had a bird on your head, they probably wouldn’t notice it. Give it a try. Get a bird to land on your head and see what happens.
Kids, the more aware they become, are endlessly concerned that their parents will embarrass them, and the younger me used to worry about this too. But that concern gradually passed, as I observed that those around me didn’t seem to notice the occasional faux pas on my part either.
My sister had a boyfriend named Ruben, who had a beard. Ruben went away on a two-week trip and, while gone, shaved the beard but kept the mustache. When he returned, my sister picked him up at the airport and the first words out of her mouth were, “You grew a mustache!”
While we are on the subject of facial hair, my first beard appeared in my early twenties when I lived at home with my parents. On impulse, I shaved it off one morning and came out to breakfast. My parents were at the kitchen table, and we had a lively conversation though neither of them noticed that their only son was now beardless. I left the room momentarily, gathered the clippings in a plastic bag, returned and casually tossed the bag on the kitchen table. I thought my parents might want to put it in my baby book. They looked from the baggie to my face a couple of times and then said, “Oh, you shaved!”
A few years ago, while on a summer study group trip in Florida with my pals Matt and Kevin and Marc, we played golf in 180-degree weather, or maybe that was just the humidity. Matt and I grew tired of playing, while Kevin and Marc were still intent on the game. So, Matt and I teed off on the next hole and got back in our cart. Kevin and Marc kept on playing, while Matt and I headed unnoticed to the shade of the next palm tree. As we approached the green, Matt and I threw our golf balls onto the green and putted out. We did this for the rest of the round, and Kevin and Marc never noticed our altered form of play.
In his entertaining book, Rules for Aging, Roger Rosenblatt enumerates fifty-eight rules for aging well. Rule 2, Nobody is thinking about you, reads:
“Yes, I know, you are certain that your friends are becoming your enemies; that your grocer, garbageman, clergyman, sister-in-law, and your dog are all of the opinion that you have put on weight, that you have lost your touch, that you have lost your mind; furthermore, you are convinced that everyone spends two-thirds of every day commenting on your disintegration and denigrating your work. I promise you: Nobody is thinking about you. They are thinking about themselves–just like you.”
That pretty much says it all.