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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

Classical Music Agony Aunt ALICE McVEIGH
celebrates her twenty-first birthday (again)

? ' Dear Alice,

How is it that you know everything? I think it's really amazing that you have such great skill! Did you see the Broadway musical Wicked? If yes, what did you think?

Carl Finkleberg

PS I think you're REALLY amazing!
PPS Is your brain an encyclopedia? (sp?)

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Alice Dear Carl, wherever you are,

Thanks for this, which has cheered me up -- and I needed cheering up, because I have a big birthday on Saturday. Yes, a VERY big birthday. Yes, sirree, after being 39 for eleven years, I am officially going to be 40!!!!!!!!

This is deeply depressing. I never had any ambition to be middle-aged, always fancying myself as one of those people (Princess Di, Marilyn Monroe) who go out like a light in their prime and get people singing songs about them and writing plays and throwing flowers on coffins. Well: it's official, I am already too old to die young. However, as your letter made me think, there are of course compensations for my still -- unromantically -- being here, and here it is.

I don't know everything: I still add up on my fingers. Far from being an encyclopedia (I'm going with your spelling, as it's also not a strong point!!!) my brain is gradually turning to mush, making remembering my sister's middle name a vague struggle. And I don't REALLY have great skill. What I have -- which you'll have if you are lucky and hang in there, Carl -- is some wisdom. This is different from skill and very different from brain-power but possibly, in real life, more useful than either.

Wisdom is still doing stupid things -- but knowing how to make it better afterwards.
Wisdom is understanding that when people hurt, they behave badly (this one also works backwards).
Wisdom is knowing what really matters, and putting that first.
Wisdom is being smart enough to ask for help when you really need it.

So there you go!!!!! You now have -- free, gratis and for nothing -- absolutely everything I've learned in half a century!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

PS Haven't yet got to Wicked; should I?? You tell me.
PPS Damn. Forgot the one about not forgetting to take the nerve pills before a solo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Copyright © 4 April 2008 Alice McVeigh, Virginia USA

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