Deciding What Matters: Looking at the Big Picture by Bob Lowry

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By Bob Lowry

The October/November 2012 issue of AARP’s The Magazine had an article that caught my eye: Bette Midler talking about dreams, destiny, and what matters. In addition to her music, she has won honors for her work in movies and on the Broadway stage. As she approaches 70 she isn’t slowing down. In fact, her new movie with Billy Crystal opens on Christmas day. I thought several of her comments seem to fit a satisfying retirement well.*Life is not your personal express lane. For someone in show business I imagine that was a lesson that didn’t come easily. Stars of her caliber are used to a lifestyle that we can only imagine. But, most of us do finally grasp the reality of a world filled with 7 billion other people. Regardless of how successful, talented, lucky, or gifted, a large percentage of the rest of the world could care less. 

Our best path lies in balancing our needs and desires with a sensitivity to others. I am living proof that someone who was self-absorbed and rather insensitive  can actually develop a growing sense of empathy and compassion for others. It is a work in progress but has helped me put much of my life past, present, and future into a more realistic perspective. There are other people out there. Who knew?*The big world is better than your little one. It is very easy for us to get so wrapped up in our problems and day-to-day life that we forget there is a big, fascinating world out there. Shaking up our routine with travel certainly helps. So does exposing ourselves to new ideas and different kinds of people.

I am convinced that many of the problems in this country and around the globe would be much less severe if folks weren’t so convinced they have all the answers. There is nothing more dangerous than a mind closed to any new input. *You can’t always be “on.” For us, that means you can’t always be available. You can’t accept every request for your time. You can’t volunteer for everything. You can’t be running at full throttle all the time.

There is an absolute need in all of us to turn off every once in awhile. Relax, unplug, un-commit. Be unavailable for a time. Allow yourself to be tired, grumpy, or unsociable occasionally. We all need a time when we are “off.”

*It is OK to let go of a dream. In the article Bette says a dream is just that: a dream. There comes a time when reality must take over. Will I ever play guitar with Paul McCartney? Not likely. Will I move to an island in the South Pacific and spend my remaining days writing the great American novel. No.

Dreams and goals are what keep us moving forward. They add spice to our daily existence. But, they are no substitute for dealing with life as it is. If a dream has outlived its usefulness, then dream a new dream. Don’t let a missed dream freeze you in place.


I’ve always enjoyed “The Divine Miss M” for her brassy, take no prisoners attitude. This article seemed perfect for her….and us.

By Bob Lowry

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