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I Think Therefore I Am; I Feel Therefore I Am In Trouble

by Pat Beurteaux

Amongst my many stunning talents and achievements is my ability to breathe, walk, talk and observe simultaneously and without noticeable effort.  I can even get myself across a busy city street while breathing, walking, talking, and, especially, observing. I can watch TV and read at the same time.  I can knit or sew or write while listening to music.  I was a wife and mother with a busy career. There's not enough time in the world to describe how many things one does simultaneously in that role.

There are, however, two things I can't seem to do at one and the same time. I can't think and feel.  I'm either in the State of Reason or the State of Emotion. I've been looking for a place on the border but so far no good — and, in what a doctor recently described as my `Seventh Decade’ (cripes!), my chances of finding that border town are slim.

This is how it works.  If I look at a situation and, at that moment, I'm in my State of Reason domicile, I’ll apply analysis, sort out priorities, discard unreasonable assumptions, wishes and expectations, put the whole lot through the ethics and morals sieve, and come up with a decision that will be fairly sane.

If I’m in the State of Emotion at the time, the process is severely shortened and the result very different.  I’ll permit myself to act either without thinking, or, more historically accurately, with full knowledge that is disregarded.  This is more interesting in almost all cases, although generally in the Chinese Curse fashion (ie `may you live in interesting times’). 

I’m retired so I have a lot of time to spare. Obviously I have too much because I read the newspaper in depth, including the Advice Columns, the Relationships Section (geared to the under-30s or 40s — who can say), and the Personals. 

I watch daytime TV occasionally, including a glance at Oprah and a shorter glance at Dr Phil, who scares me.  I’ve watched a couple of the `nanny-type’ shows that feature the kinds of parents and children I meet during my hunting and gathering forays. I’ve voyeured the switching wives thing once or twice.

Now, bear with me because I do have a point.

On Valentine’s Day, there was a big story in the paper, with photographs, of a young dating couple who had had matching (hopefully) microchips inserted in their hands.  The male partner had written the programme for them, and a book about the subject, as well.  The raison d’etre was, according to him, to enable the young lovers to unlock each other’s electronic locks on their apartment doors. Surely a key is less painful?  And just imagine breaking up?  They’ll need surgery.

The thing about this story that has continued to dance in the ballroom of my mind is that the young woman had to be talked into doing this.  She had been in the State of Reason but decided to move. Somewhere there was a gong sounding but she couldn’t hear it over the `if-you-love-me-you’ll-let-me’ message she was receiving from her boyfriend.  It’s an old message but I guess it still works.  As he said, `It’s no different than having a microchip put in your dog’s ear’.  She is definitely in the State of Emotion to let that pass!

Watching people on TV admit to behaving in regrettable, and often bizarre, fashion, reading advice columns that feature basically the same issues everyday, as well as collating (mentally) all the information I absorb from here and there, I have come to a reassuring conclusion.

I am not alone.

Born and raised in a small Ontario town that became a large bedroom community post-war, Pat Beurteaux began her career as a primary school teacher, a career that permitted her to travel to Australia as a `working holidayer' in the mid-60s.  At that time any British Commonwealth citizen could travel and work in any other Commonwealth country under certain conditions; a good deal of fun was had by all.  

You may reach Pat by emailing


©2006 Pat Beurteaux for SeniorWomenWeb
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