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Big questions change through the years

Moseyin’ Along

January 23, 2013
BY JOYCE SCHENK - COLUMNIST ( , Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

In those long-ago days of my college career, like all students, I often took part in deep, intellectual discussions involving the great questions of the universe.

My college chums and I would spend intense evenings sharing our thoughts about the possibility of life on other planets, the constant clash of good vs evil and, the most important question of all, "Why are we here?"

As I left that part of my life behind, my ongoing focus became more mundane concerns like making a living and raising a family. Questions during this period involved such queries as "where are the kids," "why is it suddenly so quiet?" and "did you hear that crash?" Now that the years have chugged along and I've entered the age of AARP, I've found I'm frequently faced with another set of burning questions that have me searching in vain for an answer.

One example came up again today. It was mid-morning when I walked into the kitchen, determined to carry out a chore I had been putting off. I reached the sink, turned and looked blankly around the room. Finally I asked myself - as I have many times before - "Why am I here?"

Apparently, I'm not the only "Golden Ager" afflicted with such unanswerable questions. Hubby George strolled through the bedroom yesterday, stopped cold in the bathroom, then turned to me with a confused frown and said, "What was I looking for?"

I've seen many others who have been plagued by such forgetfulness. We often observed the phenomenon during the years we ran our little hardware store Findley Lake. One of our customers, who had a bit of a memory problem, came in from time to time, wandered the aisles, then stopped at the counter with a dazed look. After glancing over the store from that vantage point for a moment, he'd turn to us and say, "My wife sent me over for something - but I can't for the life of me remember what it was."

This "why am I here?" confusion isn't limited to us older folks, though. It seems everyone is hit with this brain overload from time to time. And, when it happens, some folks try to solve the problem with creativity in place of memory.

One pal admitted he had gone to the store for his wife. She had given him only one ingredient to bring home for her baking project. He couldn't exactly remember the entire name of the product he was to get, but based on the one word he did recall, he returned home with his purchase.

His wife, however, was less than thrilled. She said, "But Howard, I told you I needed Cream of Tartar. This is not a substitute," she said, holding up the jar of tartar sauce.

Looking back at those long-ago college days, I realize none of us got close to answering the age old question, "Why are we here?" But, as the years continue to play tricks with my mind, I'm not trying to solve such large problems. I'm just hoping from time to time I can recall why I've come into the kitchen.



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