Show Up, Keep Up, and Shut Up

Twelve years ago, who woulda thunk that I’d know what a professional caddie had to say about anything? The Big Guy and his Sunday afternoon TV-watching habits have a lot to answer for.

Dave Musgrove caddied for Seve Ballesteros and Sandy Lyle when they won The Open (for my American readers, that’s the British Open; for my non-golfing readers, that’s referring to two different years, The Open not being like a doubles match in tennis). So Dave’s opinion of what it takes to be a caddie, quoted in the title of this blog, should carry some weight.

There’s just one thing: having caddied in his first Open in 1961, Dave is old school. Expectations change over time.

Now they have to show up, keep up, wear the right clothes, say the right things, know more about the course than the original architect, and more about their player’s swing than the man hitting the ball.

But if Dave’s credo won’t necessarily be right for today’s caddies, maybe it can help me.  I find that I’m more open to new ideas at this time of year than any other. Although there’s always the same amount of time in front of me, somehow the New Year always looms large and imposing, piled up in a great undigested lump. So I’m happy to have a little help, conventional or otherwise.

The first step, as always, is to see just where the ball lies: to assess how I’m doing now.

Show up.

Showing up is all about being there as well as being there, if you see what I mean. As they say disparagingly of a professional athlete turning in a lacklustre performance, He just didn’t show up, tonight. Going through the motions isn’t good enough. I’m feeling OK about this one: I usually don’t know when to quit, so I think I’ve got this covered.

Keep up.

Whether it’s keeping up with technology or the work pace in my workplace, I’m in a bit of trouble here.

Our household ‘cell phone:people’ ratio of 1:2 puts us lower than Lebanon, in the company of North Korea, Cuba, and Ethiopia. And it’s not the Big Guy who’s the holdout.  I’m what we might charitably call a late adopter of technology.

As a 60-something in the 30-something racket that is hard-deadline proposal work, I find that keeping up with long hours is beginning to strain. And, just as in Dave’s world, not keeping up is not an option.

Shut up.

Now, just a minute. Beaking off, whether in writing or in person, is one of my core competencies. This one could be more than a bit of trouble.

Show up, keep up, and shut up.

I’m guessing that Dave wouldn’t see my score of, say, one and a half outta three, as anything likely to win a major. How can I improve my score in the coming year?

I can start by keeping up where I can, I guess. I can’t turn back the clock to the vigour of my middle-age, but maybe I can work on projects with a pace more aligned with my new normal: the workplace equivalent of ‘goin’ where the weather suits my clothes.’ And in the year that cell phones are expected to outnumber people, I can at least buy one before every last Tanzanian does.

After that, maybe I can control my impulse to offer unsolicited advice or commentary in conversation. It’s ironic that even as I feel that I know more and more, other people seem less and less interested in hearing about it. Maybe this is just one of the curses of aging, or maybe folks never did care that much. In any event, just shutting up might be the smartest thing I do in a day. Or all year, for that matter.

Maybe there’s something to be said for the Big Guy’s Sunday afternoon TV-watching habits, after all.


PS Apropos of nothing, really, this is post #202. Neat, eh?


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12 Responses to Show Up, Keep Up, and Shut Up

  1. Alison says:

    You gave me my Sunday morning chuckle! thank you for that! I find the “New Year” a sort of watershed myself, always fodder for lots of self reflection and hopes for change. I encourage you to “keep up” with technology, as I think it is our hope as Seniors to stay engaged – but please, don’t “shut up” – it’s what makes You, YOU! I remember as a child, listening and respecting your comments – I looked up to you then, and I do now! so don’t change that part of you!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Alison – I think I used to tell stories about lady bugs, or somesuch. My parents used to listen as long as they could stand it and then tell me to shut up, albeit more politely than that. When I protested later that they never gave me a chance to get to the interesting bit, my father said, “You got that right!” I’m glad you enjoyed my pearls!

  2. What you have to say is certainly important to me, Isabel, although I struggle to integrate some of it into circumstances that are very different from your milieu. Before I married at 34, I was employed with somewhat similar organizational and people skills although in different contexts. Those abilities were channeled into the unusual challenges of my marriage, then, into the unusual challenges of our family; in the truest sense, I never stopped using those business skills while I added others. When, at the age of 66, I “stumbled” across information as important as finding the cure for cancer, my impulse to re-enter that world of business I mostly had left 30 years previous has resulted in all the difficulties you describe in your piece, but magnified. As a woman of faith, I believe that my motivation to disseminate my specialist knowledge about hearing and behaviour carries some kind of divine imprimatur. But as an outsider to the high-energy, low-experience, self-interested engines of commerce my goals appear even to me to be preposterous. I take courage from your writing and I hope you will take courage from this: your wisdom is important to those young ‘uns whether or not they have arrived at the maturity to recognize it; they may yet remember it. Don’t shut up. The cell phone is undermining the learning of and preservation of much more valuable means of communication and discernment; if you get one, use it minimally. “Business as usual” has driven the planet and its populace to the brink of extinction: less moving and shaking is another divine imperative along with much more careful and holistic planning and the stakes couldn’t be higher. The knowledge, wisdom, and values of age cannot be replicated by youth; like incandescent light bulbs most of their energy is wasted as heat, not light. Stand, or sit, confidently in the Light.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – The “high-energy, low-experience, self-interested engines of commerce.” Nicely said! I saw a Woodrow Wilson quote (on a greeting card, of course -the source of much of my inspirational reading) to this effect, “The thing to do is to supply light and not heat.” I’d hope that would come naturally with age; I find that it takes some work.

  3. Jim Taylor says:

    You wrote, ” It’s ironic that even as I feel that I know more and more, other people seem less and less interested in hearing about it.” Right on!
    Also, write on! It’s satisfying to read views that I (usually) agree with that I don’t have to write myself.
    I’m with you on the technology too. I received an iPad for Christmas. So far I haven’t persuaded it to do anything but turn on. I’m waiting for my granddaughter (aged 9) to visit so I can learn to operate this damned thing. Happy New Year to you and the Big Guy!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim – I can make my iPad play Scrabble with me, so that’s a start. This notion that Apple machines have a more intuitive interface is, in my mind, just silly. It’s a different interface, full stop. As for the wisdom that comes with age (and isn’t much wanted by the young, thank you very much) – well, I likely didn’t go to my grandmother for advice, either. I did have an honourary aunt, midway between parent and grandparent in age, whose voice I hear in my head quite often. So that gives me hope that some of what we say sticks.

  4. John Whitman says:

    You are not alone! Regarding your comment to Jim Taylor, I don’t even have an iPad, let alone one I can play Scrabble with – not that I am likely to ever want to play Scrabble with anyone, or in this case anything.
    I did however, spend this afternoon looking at Boxing Day deals on GPS’s or is it GPSi, and WiFi enabled mini-laptops for when I start doing some serious traveling. Now just don’t ask me if I bought anything.
    John W

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      John – A mini-laptop sounds like something I’d enjoy – much easier on the back as I schlepp through various airports. If you find something you like, let me know!

  5. Alison says:

    In defence of the wonders of technology – we spent a great hour the other day “walking” the streets of St.Brieux, Sask with the earth view of Google maps. We could navigate down streets, and check out old neighbours’ homes – all without leaving our computer! You just have to pick and choose how you use the technology.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Alison – Oh, yes, for sure. In allowing us to stay connected at a distance – to people and places – it’s invaluable. I think sometimes about my grandmother who left Iowa to homestead in southern Alberta circa 1918. Forget about texting and email – there were no phones! And a long rail trip “home” once a year if you were lucky.

  6. Good post and a lot of extra wisdom from your faithful readers.

    The most surprising thing in the past few years is that I persuaded John to get a cellphone so he could call me from The Bush where he was painting each day — I don’t know what I could do with that information if anything dire happened, but it was some comfort.

    But here’s the interesting thing: within a few days, John was calling the phone “my cell” and since I’d had three numbers cued up, all he had to remember was “press 1 for Barbara”, “press 2 for Deborah”, etc. He even knows how to recharge it and can flip (yes, it’s THAT old) it open like an old pro. If anything, you will take to one easier than John did. And that was WAY easy.

    Could I recommend a Virgin? It costs us $16.95 per month for 50 minutes and we never go over our limit. We didn’t even pay for the phone. It was included in the $16.95 (incl tax!). AND, the nice young man set it all up and cued up the 3 automatic numbers. I just handed it to John and that was that.

    But do you really need it?

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – At work and day-to-day, cell phones have changed the way people interact. Less planning, more “call me when you get there/downstairs.” Less “call me” and more “text me the address.” And so on. And, of course, if I need a phone when I’m out and about, there are no more pay phones to be had. An emergency phone of the sort you describe is the minimum I need; a smart phone looks more and more reasonable (well, except for the cost!).

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