Still. I used to think of it as an innocuous word. Sometimes peaceful, like, “In the still of the night I can hear the song of nightingales.” Sometimes it can be even sweet: “Even after twenty years I’m still in love with my spouse.”
Recently, however, I’ve been thinking “still” is an evil word.
I first noticed the wickedness of “still” a couple years ago when I read Gloria Steinem's most recent book, My Life on the Road. In it, the eighty-four year old feminist icon said the thing that shocked her so much about aging was the word "still." Steinem explained that, in the normal course of writing and speaking, she noticed that people started asking "are you still doing that?”
At first, Steinem thought it was odd that people would ask if she was “still” doing the work that she’s done most of her life. Then she realized the question was age-related. The question was more like, "why are you doing that now...at your age."
When I read it, I thought it was curious. But I didn't relate. So getting "stilled" was about Gloria. Not me.
However, a few months ago I was looking around for a new car, one with a manual transmission. Yes, I know. Nobody drives them anymore. Except, apparently, just me and a few thousand other people in the US (it's different overseas).
I learned to drive on an automatic, but once I got the hang of driving stick, I found it way more fun…and never bought an automatic again. However, there are very few car makers who offer a manual transmission, so it’s slim pickings. I complained.
At first friends just said, “you should just buy an automatic.” Boring...
Then after I bought my new, fully-loaded Mazda six-speed. That's when some of them - too many, in fact - used the “S” word: "are you still driving a stick shift?"
At first, like Gloria, it surprised me. After all, if I always buy a car with a manual transmission, why wouldn't I get that kind of car?
It reminded me of the day my sister-in-law expressed her shock that my mother, then in her late seventies, was still wearing high heels. “I don’t even wear them anymore,” she exclaimed. But my mom always wore heels…and did until she was in her mid-eighties.
When it was her time to stop wearing them, she did. When it was her time. Then she started wearing flats. When it's time for me to drive an automatic, I will. Until then, I'll STILL drive stick shift.
See how “still” sensitive I've become? And it’s Gloria’s fault.
What about you? Is there anything YOU aren’t doing because someone is still-ing you?
OK…if it’s your kid asking you why you still wear those granny panties you bought at Wal-mart, she’s right. 😉
However, if your kids are asking why you still want to work, still want to start your own business, still want to get your degree – or an advanced degree, still want to do so much volunteer work… remind them you’re still the mother and it’s your life and your business and to butt out.
Or try some guilt (that's my Italian showing). Like...tell them you would have done it sooner if you hadn’t been raising them.
And if that doesn’t work, tell them two words. You know the two I’m talking about…
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