Perhaps I should research a bit to see where this idiom began…but as I think about it literally, I am reminded of those crispy, incredibly crunchy, kettle baked things that are all flavor and calories without a smidge of nutritional value. You know, those things that will drive us to ravage the cupboards as we look for a bag in the middle of the night, even driving out to the store at 1:00 a.m. in our flannels to get more if we are out! Addictive? Yes! Messy?? Undoubtedly!! Sometimes I blame it on Parkinson’s, but it is seemingly impossible for me to eat even a single chip without little bits of it cascading down my frontside, into chair and couch crevices, and onto the floor. Somehow, the bits that make it to the floor don’t stay there very long. (We are a dog family, after all.)
Have you ever left a bag of chips open on the counter overnight? And then returned to them the following morning? How could anything so scrumptious the night before be so revolting the next morning? And remember those little pieces in the crevices of last night’s perch? Quick! Get the vacuum before temptation runs amok!! Those awful little things will not only make the calories adhere more quickly, but their limp stale-ty will leave you gasping for water, quite possibly causing you to swear off these gems of iniquity permanently!
Now I am aware that the chips referred to may be those little pieces that fly when one is sawing or chopping wood. Or perhaps the chips are my progeny who imitate me so willingly (NOT!!). But there is a thread here that haunts me. I will be 70 before the next new year arrives, and I am haunted by things that are changing around me. And IN me! We all know that our bodies somehow magically know when we hit that 60’s decade, and these bodies just love to remind us that they are tired and are ready for a break. If you refuse to take it easy, you most certainly will land in the hospital, paying dearly for your transgressions. If you are fortunate indeed, you might get some sort of temporary reprieve that allows you to mend your ways. Maybe you can even erase a bit of the damage you have done in previous years eating those chips and indulging in all the other accouterments of American life.
One oddity, though, is that if you take it too easy, you can still get into trouble. Why else would that fancy schmancy watch on your arm tell you to stand up every hour! For crying in the sink! Those activity rings literally have my husband running in circles before the thing resets for a new day at midnight!! Doesn’t feel much different from the frantic late-night chips or fries run!!
So, what’s a retired senior citizen to do? It’s too late to let the proverbial chips fall where they may…that ship has already sailed! We are dinosaurs at earlier, younger ages than ever before. The world is changing more rapidly than we can absorb, and little bits of our existence are falling like crumbs around us. Institutions and rituals that have been anchors for our generation have fallen apart, disappeared as surely as the crumbs on our floors. Our homes are crammed with “stuff” that nobody wants anymore; nobody even remembers where or who it came from…nor does anyone even care that no one knows or remembers! Even the wood chips that flew about during our seasoning as young adults no longer seem relevant .
These days, when one enters a deli sandwich shop, he/she will always have a choice to make about what chips to eat with said sandwich. The variety is staggering, but the premise is the same as it’s been for generations: salty, crispy, crunchy, addicting goodness that tempts us beyond our good senses. And those chips off the old block? Literally, the wood chips fall to the ground, biodegrade, and start the cycle of life all over again. Figuratively, the generation that we bred and raised (much like every generation before us) is doing just fine as they take over our world. It feels like a different place. Strange music. Wild hair, Mixed relationships. Odd fashions. Even odder foods. Minimalism. Techy stuff that rivals Star Trek of the 1970’s…..or Dick Tracy of the 1930’s ….or Henry Ford of the 1890’s…
However, with my 70-year perspective, I see a thread, unbroken for generations, a premise as real as the day I was born: Love your neighbors as you love yourself. Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Practice unexpected kindness.
“…And the world will be a better place.
For me. For you. You just wait and see!
Take a good look around, and if you’re feeling down,
Put a little love in your heart!”
– Jackie DeShannon. 1941 –