I cringe when I think of all the people I’ve told off in my professional life. I was the queen of righteous indignation. The sun could not set on an unresolved issue. Nothing could wait until tomorrow. I could never afford to ‘sleep on it.’ I had to heave that ax before the blade got dull. Seconds could take the edge off.

The relief after I threw the ax was immense. Nothing felt as good as being right. At any cost. Split a log right down the middle? Beautiful. Fracture a skull, sever an arm, all metaphorically, even better. There was no response to insult but a lethal one.

I exaggerate. Somewhat.

People do that in a blog, push the envelope, as they say, until it hits the end of the table and falls off. Look at all those envelopes you’ve pushed on to the floor! Small price to pay, I reply, to say what I think.

So my instinct, my reaction to insult, once lethal, is now pastoral. I write the occasional angry response email or text and then I ask myself, is this important? Is this essential? Is it required that I go down in the basement and get my ax out from behind the paint cans and bring it upstairs to heave at someone?

No. It’s too much work. And the clean-up is endless.

This, my friends, is one of the great unappreciated benefits of aging. Because one’s ego has already been fed and overfed by years of hard work and good pay, congratulations and compliments, it becomes impenetrable and burnished like marble. Insults splash on its surface and drip to the floor.

Sometimes I look at aggravations and irritations puddled on the floor and I figure the air will dry them. I don’t even bend over to wipe them up. That has become beneath me. I’m done stooping. I don’t react.  I never head for the basement.

I sold my ax to someone younger and now I have two hands free for the first time in years.



Photo: Benjamin Balazs