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November 2, 2013

Looking Back: Focus on the positives to help overcome limitations

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The Daily Star

---- — “It’s great to be young and energetic,” I was thinking out loud as I fondly watched several youngsters enjoying the bight sunny and still warm day. There they go scooting down the sidewalk on their skateboards. Remember when? Whoops … no skateboards “back when,” much less smooth cement sidewalks to zoom down.

Time doesn’t stand still, as some would like it to do … sometimes. And so, looking back on life and all that has been experienced, accomplished and perhaps just thought of as a “pipe dream,” I can wonder: Did I really do all that? How did I actually do it and did it have any positive impact, or maybe some things were just a whim to satisfy curiosity? I certainly hope that I did touch someone’s heart. 

First said is that I did have limitations, as many do, but perhaps aren’t recognized and coped with until later in life. But then too I have had many pluses. That, I guess, is the key (as I look back): “You gotta accentuate the positive … eliminate the negative … latch on to be affirmative…” (Remember the lyrics to that oldie?)

It’s true. By just doing that, a person can build up self-confidence to be successful in what he chooses to do. Rise up above the minuses and excel in the pluses.

All grown up, finally an adult, with all the know-how and “got-the-world-by-the-tail” attitude must have been this human’s shroud, as after graduating from high school then college, all that seemed to be the “piece de resistance” of a lifetime. Not so, for there was so much more to just living. Now I can truly appreciate that there is much, much more to learn and understand throughout each and every year (or day) of life. (I’ve been at it for a l-o-n-g time!).

A person can have a fantastic brain just crammed with knowledge. But if there is no understanding or the ability to apply, and when to … there is a big problem. After excelling in the “pluses,” then there is time to work on the limitations or weaknesses.

Or, I should say, there has to be a balance to it all. I could have, if I knew how, at the time, but youths sometimes shut their ears to adult advice.

As you have read these columns for close to 10 years now (and I thank you for all your encouragement), I think, why didn’t I do this years ago? (I often read and reread many of my favorite authors’ accomplishments, gleaning much as I go along).

Have I wasted my years? Was there a failure to get on the right path for me? Was it a guidance counselor, which most schools had “back when”? Was it a teacher who lacked the ability to motivate the class? Didn’t anyone realize that a youth can have more than one interest … perhaps several?

At that time, in that era, life was stereotyped! At least, for me it was and perhaps is for many then and now. Individuality is something I always truly believed in and especially now as I have lived a lifetime.

Stereotyped life pattern was in place with my controlling father: Grow up, good education, perhaps self-supportive, marriage is a must, family, children, and having more than he did … then what? Am I done with life?

O-ops, there are many, many, even innumerable glitches as we live with all the “what ifs”: What if there is a dysfunctional family life? One-parent family? Inadequate schools? Wrong choice of mate? Unwanted children? Ill health? The list can go on along with all the causes of failures. (Pointing always at the other guy and not admitting the truth … sad).

There has to be accepted guidance … guidance that works for the good of humankind having good moral values.

Now my “controller” wasn’t there throughout my early adult life and there was a lack of good principles to follow. I had to learn. Simply put: they are listed biblically. But I had to find them … where? How to apply to my life so I can enjoy all the benefits and they are endless.

Love, happiness and contentment are a start and I would love to write all that I have learned. Would you listen?

Elaine W. Kniskern is a 80-year-old resident of Schenevus and a grandmother of five. She can reached at elaine-kniskern@stny.rr.com. ‘Senior Scene’ columns can be found at www. thedailystar.com/seniorscene.