Get Off My Lawn!
“Hey, kid…………get off my lawn!!” When I was growing up, our block had a man who shouted a variation of this from his front porch, over and over, on a daily basis. He lived up the street from my family, on the corner, and neighborhood kids continually cut across the edge of his lawn, instead of staying on the sidewalk and making a ninety-degree turn. He must have spent all of his spare time looking out the window and hoping to catch transgressors, because I don’t think I ever saw anyone get away with trespassing on that small piece of his yard. We just mostly thought of him as a crabby old man, if we thought of him at all, and wondered why the heck he couldn’t be pleasant. The other day, in a book where James Hillman writes about aging and other stages of life, I read a chapter, entitled “Heightened Irritability”. While the author didn’t exactly praise that characteristic, he didn’t totally condemn it, either. He says that a certain amount of outrage can be extremely beneficial in affecting political change and fighting injustice.The irritations of older people, he writes, “make them stand up in public meetings, lodge complaints, bring suit and be fervid and fearless in defense of a cause”. Would the Hudson River have been cleaned up to the extent that it was, without the intense zeal of an aging Pete Seeger? Probably not, But I still wish the man in my neighborhood had been nicer.