Things That Get Better with Age – Cheese, Books, and Friends by Debra H. Goldstein

My birthday was in March. It wasn’t a milestone birthday nor did I celebrate it in any special way, but I did receive two cards during my birthday week that I saved because they had quotes I thought might make interesting blog topics. Since March, they have been sitting on a table in my bedroom waiting for me to blog about them. Instead, I stared at them and walked away. That is, until today when I realized the problem was thinking of them separately. They belonged together in one blog.

The first card has a Maxine like woman sitting next to a cake holding a balloon on its cover with the caption, “I was just reading about how some things get better with age.” Inside the card, the message continues: “Don’t get excited. They were talking about cheese.” The other card has a boy and a dog sitting in a sailboat across from a giant bear who is reading. The quote next to the sailboat is attributed to Mark Twain. “Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” The inside line is simple: “Here’s to never outgrowing good books or good friends!”

I think both cards capture the essence of being a reader and a writer. Think about the classics or some of your favorite books. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Giant by Edna Ferber. Both hold up, don’t they? Mockingbird was published in 1960, Giant in 1952, but both have messages particularly relevant today. Why do still talk about these books? I want to think it is because they are well-written and address topics of importance, but I realize there are other books that did the same in their day which are no longer in print.

So, what it is about these books that like cheese, they have only grown better with age. I’d like to know your opinion, but to me, it is that their characters seem simple, but each is complex; many are stereotypical in their biases, fears, and behaviors, but they change based upon their experiences and understanding of the times changing around them.

Over the years, I haven’t always agreed with the thoughts and beliefs of my friends, but that hasn’t been a reason to terminate our friendships. We’ve learned to tolerate each other and occasionally to understand what motivates our differences. Perhaps our consciences are a bit sleepy, but for the most part, my friends are readers, thinkers, and doers. Even when we relax, we tend to be involved in things that reflect how we’ve grown or changed in the face of conflict, concerns, family dynamics, political climates, and societal needs.

We may have mellowed a bit, but watch out. Like the cheese that gets tangier, so do we. I’m thankful for my friends, my books, and the influence both have had on me in the journey of life. What more can I ask?

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