CONVERSATION WITH… AN OLDER SPONGE…Wondering If Gratitude Includes Feeling Everyone Else’s Pain

Walking Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road, I noticed an older sponge crawling in front of me.  He was having a lot of trouble moving, so I offered to lend a hand.


Sponge?  Need some help?

SPONGE: Yes, thank you. I’m older and I’m on overload.

What do you mean?

SPONGE: Well, I’m on my way back from a high school reunion. Everyone I knew from way back was there.  The dish detergent…the Brillo…the bar of soap… We’re all aging. But some of us are feeling better than others.

It works that way with people, too.  It’s very hard to be part of whatever this phase of life is supposed to be.

SPONGE: It IS very hard!  And my problem is, as a sponge, I absorb it all. I take in everybody’s pain, plus my own, and now it’s weighing me down.  In my older age, I can’t hold in all these feelings without having symptoms.  I can hardly move.  Sometimes it paralyzes me.

I know what you mean.  I’m most grateful to be here.  But when I meet up with someone who has very serious health issues, I take in their feelings. I experience their feelings as mine, too.

SPONGE: Today I saw the plastic bottle of dish soap I grew up with.  She’s almost out of liquid soap. She’s scared.  What will her life be like without the soap? They’ve been together forever. My heart hurts for her.

I know someone who’s so sick he has no fight left in him. He doesn’t want to be here anymore.  I feel his pain even though I can’t quite understand it.

SPONGE: I know a bar of soap like that, too. She’s so thin she’s wasting away. She says being like that isn’t living anymore.  When she speaks that way, I absorb her pain.

But…are we supposed to be experiencing gratitude this way?  Or are we supposed to separate our lives from theirs and live the best way we can at this moment?

SPONGE: Maybe both.



Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road, I passed an Assisted Living Center. I wondered who might live there.  A ham and cheese sandwich came out and cried, “Welcome! I’m Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother!”  I tried to respond with sensitivity…


Uh, actually, I think  you’re a ham and cheese sandwich.  You might be just a tad confused.

FAIRY GODMOTHER:  Ah ha ha.  I can see why you’d say that.  But I AM Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother.  I just had an unfortunate mishap.  I combined two different spells as an experiment and accidentally turned myself into ham and cheese on rye.

Oh. Of course.

FAIRY GODMOTHER: I’m not going to stress over it.  I have my health. That’s what matters.

Well…but…aren’t you going to turn yourself back into a Fairy Godmother?

FAIRY GODMOTHER:  I can’t remember how to do it right now.  I can’t recall which two spells I combined.  I’m having a senior moment.

Sometimes I can’t remember little things, too.  It’s so annoying and upsetting when I can’t recall names of movie actors… or internet passwords…or names of people I went to school with.

FAIRY GODMOTHER: Same here. But I try not to let it interfere with my creative process. I’m still an artistic soul.

I admire that. You know, I’ve been in creative meetings at my job when people realize I’ve already mentioned an idea… but I don’t remember I’ve said it before.  It’s embarrassing. I feel like quitting. I think I’m too old to be there.

FAIRY GODMOTHER: Hogwash. I don’t let that stuff hold me back. It is what it is.  I remind myself I bring a lot to the table.  And other people might not have the same assets I do.

I wish I had your confidence.

FAIRY GODMOTHER: You just have to take a deep breath and remember to look at your whole being. And if you have a shortcoming because of your age, figure out a way to make it work for you.


FAIRY GODMOTHER: Well, for example, if one of my original magic spells is dated, I come up with a replacement that others might not have imagined.

Which one of your spells is dated?

FAIRY GODMOTHER: I’ve noticed not many people want to turn pumpkins into coaches these days. I did that for Cinderella to get to the ball, but now it’s old-fashioned. So instead of feeling like a useless fairy, I let my imagination run wild and created a new spell.  Now I turn microwaves into self-driving limousines.

I’d ride in one of those any day.

FAIRY GODMOTHER: Thank you! Then you’ll like this one!  People don’t want glass slippers with high heels anymore—like the kind I made for Cinderella.  The whole “suffer for beauty” thing is dying out.  So I designed a glass sneaker with memory foam.


FAIRY GODMOTHER: Thank you again!  You know, I’d love to talk more, but I have to meet Old Mother Hubbard in the dining room. She’s saving me a seat at her table for dinner.

Okay, sure.  But before you go, if you don’t mind that I’m asking, aren’t you just a little concerned about remaining a ham and cheese sandwich for the rest of your life?  What if you never remember how to turn yourself back?

FAIRY GODMOTHER: I’ve got it covered.  At the stroke of midnight, all my spells end. I always turn back into whatever I was before.

I guess SOME old spells are still the best.


Blogger friends, I don’t think this is as easy as it seems. How do you hold onto your magic?



Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road, after a rain shower, I watched a cloud pass away.  My mind wandered to a thought about my own life. As I grow older, it’s devastating and frightening when someone I’ve been close to is suddenly no longer here. Even when a celebrity passes on, I feel there’s something missing from life the way I know it.  I started thinking to myself, “Who or what will always be here for me?  Who or what can I count on no matter how old I become?”  Suddenly, I heard a bold voice cry out, “You can find the answer to that question in unexpected places!” I turned around, and there, standing behind me, was the “f” word.  What???


Uh—you’re the “f” word?  Right?

FUCK: Yup.  It’s okay.  You can say it.  Go ahead.


FUCK: Very good.  And it’s not like you haven’t said it before.

True.  But, how or why can I count on you no matter how old I become?

FUCK: Think about it.  Throughout your life, behind closed doors, when you’ve been incredibly frustrated or extremely upset, what’s the first word that springs from your lips?


FUCK: Exactly!  I’ve always been an immediate form of stress release for you. I should be included on your health plan. I’m freeing!  For a fleeting moment, I make life feel better.  And as long as you can say me, I’ll always be here for you.  I’ll never go away.

I guess that’s comforting in a warped way. Now that I think about it, when I’m angry or very confused, you ARE always there for me. 

FUCK: Of course I am.

I mean, whenever I’m driving and someone cuts in front of me, if I shout, “You freakin’ idiot!” it doesn’t make me feel better. It has be to, “You fuckin’ idiot!”

FUCK: It’s a fit.

Or if I’m running to catch a train and the door slams a split second before I can get on, “Oh darn” just doesn’t work.  It’s gotta be, “Fuck!!!”

FUCK: Totally.

And when my kids were little, if I couldn’t find them and I was terrified, when they finally showed up, there were no better words than, “Where the fuck were you???” Then I could take a deep breath.

FUCK: You got it!

Although…my kids did start to imitate me in front of their friends. I suppose they might have been invited on more playdates if I hadn’t said “fuck.”

FUCK: The world isn’t a perfect place.

Anyway…I thank you. You HAVE always been there for me in a healthy way, and I see now you always will be.  It’s reassuring to recognize this as I grow older and feel more alone.

FUCK: Not many people thank me…

Well, in that case, dearest blogger friends, if you have compliments, examples, or words of praise you’d like to share about the “f” word, please write them in the comment box.  On the other hand, if this post has upset or offended you, I’m really sorry! I know it’s not for everyone, but I felt it was something interesting to think about and–

FUCK: Stop fucking apologizing!