What’s In A Label?

What’s In A Label

By Judy Titus, SourcePoint Creative Writing Group — Sept. 2023

I am not elderly, aged, or a senior anything. And old I won’t even discuss. None of these labels is appropriate for someone who has lived nearly eight decades in two different centuries and has witnessed an explosion of human discoveries and inventions. I’ve already lived more life than most people can expect. The only appropriate label for people of my generation would be “Experienced.”

Some people label me as forgetful or absent-minded based on the fact that I can’t recite my husband’s telephone number. But I haven’t forgotten the number. I never bothered to learn it. Long ago I chose to follow Albert Einstein’s example. That great thinker refused to clutter his mind with information that he could easily obtain elsewhere. My telephone knows my husband’s number and Google knows where he lives.

Fragile is a label best applied to fine china, not people. And frail is even worse. While working in my garden each day I bend, stretch, lift, and carry various amounts of weight. Use it or lose it is my motto and I apply it to my brain as well as my body. There is nothing fragile about me except, perhaps, my ego.

I have been labeled shy, retiring, and emotionally distant, but I am none of those. I am, instead, an introvert, and my need for solitude is greater than my need for food and water. Solitude is my well that never runs dry. When life has sucked every last drop of energy from me I retreat to solitude where I’m refreshed and re-energized. Only then dare I re-enter the battle of daily life.

Politically correct is a label I once wore. It was fraught with danger and required the skills of an expert tightrope walker. I trembled at every step for fear of being labeled socially inept. The greatest danger in occupying that no-man’s-land between opposing camps lay in setting aside my own beliefs. Now, I reject political labels in favor of educated decisions. I study every aspect of issues and candidates and take my stand on the side of common sense and justice.

We humans like to label ourselves and others like storage boxes on a shelf. Sadly, we believe that we know a person based on the labels they wear. But there is no label that can adequately describe the content of a person’s character. In reality, labels are judgments that we make about others and a convenient means for separating us from them.

There are two labels that I will accept, but only when the proper time arrives. You may label me old on the day I stop learning and dead on the day I stop loving. Until then I’ll continue to be a complicated, unpredictable, and emotionally messy human being.

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