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February 26, 2021

The ability to be omnipresent

I would love to have the ability to be omnipresent. A grand word that means “existing or being everywhere, especially at the same time.” The angels have this power and the devils too. It’s a quality that is true of all virtues and evils. But we poor humans have only one head to navigate all the vagaries of life. This morning, I have a very special reason for wanting to be omnipresent, if only for a day.

It’s been a tumultuous year. Our restaurants have closed, opened and then closed again, and my impatience is at an end. We have experienced all the necessary restrictions, distancing, fewer visits, hand sanitizing, Plexiglas in the dining room, masks and so on.   

I can’t wait to reopen our doors, and when that glorious morning comes, I want to be present at every Cora location across the country. We’ve missed your warm greetings so much this year, that I want to welcome each one of you in person with a big hug, to press my cheek against yours. For every restaurant reopening, I want to take my place at the grill once again like before, wearing my whites, with a tender, generous heart yearning to delight customers. I miss everything. I miss my former work and each one of you, dear readers, who are all part of the large Cora family. I feel like crying each time the date nears only to be postponed by the authorities once again. I am certain that the day will come, and we will finally be reunited in some way or another.

So I am imploring the angels for this reunion I long for. I explain to them how my life’s calendar is fading. I am already in the fourth year of my eleventh cellular renewal. That’s right, apparently the body’s cells take seven long years to fully rejuvenate. And during this time the skin cracks, our legs weaken, our minds dim, memory falters, we misplace our keys, forget an appointment and sleep in four-hour stretches.

Fortunately, I am okay with not being the person I was. “Age is a state of mind” I tell myself, most of the time at least. I stick bright, heart-shaped Post-Its in strategic places – on the fridge if I need milk, on the front of a cupboard, on the bathroom mirror to remind me to take my vitamins, on the TV for a show I don’t want to miss. I am hobbling my way to my 100th birthday. Can you imagine the size of a cake studded with 100 candles?

Time flies, escaping our grasp never to return. Can I hope to explore a new passion? Do I have enough patience for inspiration to find me? Enough strength left in my fingers to put my stories into words? Yet I am still able to make progress while letting things be.  

I am often afraid of falling, of slipping on the ice, afraid of a little mouse in my living room, afraid of suddenly getting old. Perhaps I am becoming a lot less brave? Perhaps it’s finally time to silence my inner tormentor? Time to go against the current of my usual routine for success. Do I still need to achieve results to be someone? Submerged in work, keeping up the frenzied pace of the business arena. The equation efficiency = profitability no longer works.

- “Thank you very much, Madam C.  Your Wonder Woman costume is at the local second-hand store waiting for its next owner.”

I’m waiting for the wisdom of age so vaunted by geriatric experts. I’m really looking forward to it. Apparently this new adventure is all about BEING instead of DOING. Yes, yes, I read it somewhere in one of those books on the golden years. Someone even wrote that self-assessment for seniors is based on self-kindness, self-care and self-compassion.  

I may just have to change. I could stop doubting and judging myself, and throw out this need to achieve some result in order to declare my week a success. Us old people are made that way: our heads are programmed to constantly measure our productivity. In the old days, we calculated the number of kids that survived, the size of the garden, how many boys and girls entered the Church, how many loafs of bread kneaded each week, how many cans of vegetables and jams, and meat pies to feed the family. Our generation has relaxed its ways, but the habit is still ingrained in our heads.

Understanding what is happening to me helps me evolve. I think a lot, maybe too much, but I know that all you, dear readers, are a source of great support on my journey as a writer. I love sharing my memories, different moods and best recipes with you.

The pandemic keeps us locked away, but we can still make the most of it to cast off old beliefs. To live our state of mind, not our calendar age. We can start dreaming by gently stirring a delicious cream of fresh asparagus soup for lunch. Enjoy a few pieces of chocolate while catching the news on TV. We can dare to live better simply by being more generous, more understanding and kinder to ourselves.

I find it hard to imagine myself in a 3-piece bathing suit (leggings, skirt and top with extra support) chattering away in a 2-foot-deep pool on the deck of a cruise ship with a bar serving piña coladas to whoever. Yet that is how I’d like to celebrate my 75th year on this earth. And yes, it’s also what the bigwigs say about seniors’ well-being: It takes imagination, courage and a lot of moxie to foil the tricks played on us by old age that relentlessly tightens its grip.