The great danger of chatting with friends and relatives is that they so often feel compelled to give you their ideas on what you should do with your life.
“You know, Mom, this could be the perfect time to digitize all your photos and throw out the hard copies. Think how much space you would gain, and right now you have the time on your hands to do it!”
Just a few months ago, I would have had plenty to say in response to such a suggestion. “You think I need suggestions for more to do? I have a dozen green peppers we ordered by mistake that I have to find recipes for or else watch them rot. I have to chase crickets around the basement just to do laundry and then deal with a tree that’s dying out front. Not to mention paying bills every month — somehow.”
I could have focused on the folly of relying on technology: “You know what turns out to be a real waste of time? Digitizing all your home movies to a format that becomes obsolete even before they come back from the digitizer.”
But last month I stumbled on something new. Tired of arguing, I took a new tack: “You know what? That’s a good idea,” I replied. And suddenly we were free to move on to other topics, like me giving advice to them about their life.
During the next call someone else had an idea for me: “You know, Judy, what about yoga?”
“I don’t think so,” I replied. “Surely you remember the session you took me to? When I fell over trying to do the tree pose?”
“Ah, but this is Chair Yoga. You do it all without ever getting out of your chair!”
I tried my new strategy. “You know what? That’s a good idea.”
“Really? You’re not going to give me a big argument about it?”
“Nope. In fact, I’m going to start a museum: The Museum of Good Ideas, I’ll call it. I’m going to put this idea front and center it’s so good.”
“Gee, thanks,” said my friend, gratified. Then she let me change the subject.
This museum idea was magical! Now, any time somebody wants to give me advice, I just imagine putting it into my museum. “You should really look into solar panels,” said an old school friend. “You know, the kind I have on my own roof. You can actually save money and at worst you’re helping the environment.”
Now, I am not about to let people start crawling around on my roof, drilling holes into it just before winter comes. But I didn’t want to spend another minute of my life arguing about it. So, “That’s a terrific idea,” I replied. “It’s clearly another one for the museum.”
“Oh? What museum is that?”
“It’s something I’ve just started: The Museum of Good Ideas. And I’m very happy to tell you you’ve made the cut!”
“That sounds nice,” she said. “Good news is always welcome!”
One day a cousin called with something really far-fetched. “You know how you’re always complaining that you and your husband need more exercise?” she began. “Well, I’ve got the perfect idea for you — a dog! Even in a pandemic, our dog needs us to walk him at least twice a day, and it’s the only way I’ve ever found for getting my husband out of the house.”
“That sounds intriguing,” I told her. I did not mention that just last year we finally invested in wall-to-wall carpeting, which I’m pretty sure is incompatible with having a dog. Instead, all I said was, “That’s a good one. I’m going to have to take that under advisement, and study it.” Oh yes — in the laboratory wing of the Museum of Good Ideas.
Then one of my kids called again. “Hey, Mom, what if you just walk as far as the mailbox, once a week to send me a letter?”
“That’s a great idea. That’s going straight to the museum.”
“You know what’s an even better idea? How about you take one of those ideas OUT of your museum and actually try it?”
“That’s terrific! That’s the best idea of all. I’m going to have to build an atrium for it, so everyone will see it as soon as they walk in.”
At this rate, one thing is clear: I am going to need a bigger museum.