(We love it when a comment at WVFC is so good that we it deserves its own blog. Such was Judy Orlando’s response to Monday’s Newsmix, which had mentioned a Johns Hopkins study that showed rising suicide rates among boomers. – Ed.)

What’s going on here???

When I had just turned 40, a beautiful, educated and warm Frenchwoman, a former neighbor from the Berkshires, came for a visit from France with her family and stopped by to catch up.  Catherine asked me a question.  “You don’t feel badly about getting older, do you?  You don’t say  ‘but I haven’t contributed anything to the world yet,’ do you?”   Well….

Catherine thought it was an American aberration, this larger-than-life “having-to-contribute” thing, one with which she was familiar (she had spent 10 years in the States) but horrified.  It was her feeling that smelling the roses was human achievement indeed, and contribution enough.

It remains my personal predilection to agree with her, but my cultural schooling to disagree. Achievement – professional, monetary, parental – is everything to us.  But now, 25 years after Catherine’s visit,  the NewsMix informs us that middle class American women are committing suicide in rising numbers.

For heaven’s sake!

I am not a believer in religion, but I am a great believer in the magic of the universe.  Yes, we add human magic – science, medicine, technology, art – but if we’re always clambering to add our own bits (newer! better! smarter!), are we neglecting to appreciate what’s already here?

Can that be what’s happening to our suicidal sisters? Do they ask only “what have I contributed to the world” and forget to ask “what have I gotten out of it”?  Life is good for most of us.  Aren’t blessings as good as contributions?

Aren’t they?

Judy Orlando is a veteran of serial lives (writer, singer, dinner-theater-owner, time-sharing salesman, real estate broker, legal secretary, more to come).  Her proudest accomplishments are her children, her solvency and her recently acquired Medicare card.

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