Metaphorical Filters

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For purposes of writing this article, I just did a search and learned that one should change one’s air conditioning filter in one’s home anywhere from every 30-90 days, depending upon one’s allergies, the dustiness of the air around you, and the amount of gunk you are willing to suck into your lungs to avoid having to change the air conditioning filter.  I mean, every 30-90 days seems excessive to me.  I don’t always change my socks that often.

The filter between my brain and my mouth is getting even more gunked up than my house filter, and it is becoming less and less functional as I get older. Soon, it may have to be surgically replaced.  For a while, it worked great and I was very proud of it.  Not so much anymore.  It works at maximum efficiency some time in your thirties.  Little baby children don’t have a filter at all.  It’s an organ that doesn’t develop until some time just before puberty.  That’s why if you want the truth about something, you should ask a five-year-old.  Or, I’m discovering, someone over 70.

I’m not yet over 70.  I’m not even yet over 50 – I’ve still got a year before I hit that milestone.  I did, however, just spend a week with my parents, who are 100% filter free.  They have both endured multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, and I think the poison that attacked the cancer that attacked their bodies annihilated whatever remnants of a filter that trapped stray thoughts before they snuck out of their mouths.

While it forced me to endure comments about my less-than-perfect body and my not-quite-up-to-snuff mothering skills; and wish I had Wonder Woman-style cuff bracelets to deflect certain comments from my children’s 21st century ears, I found myself more jealous than offended.  Wouldn’t it be nice not to have to check yourself?  To know that you’ve reached a point in your life where the people who love you are going to love you and the people who aren’t going to already don’t, no matter what you say or do?

How liberating!  That would be even more freeing than taking off your bra, Spanx, and three-inch heels at the end of a long day.  Take me or leave me.  Here I am, raw and unfiltered, existing not for your pleasure but for my own.  I did your bidding, I said what you wanted me to say, played the game, chose my worlds carefully, and followed the rules.  I was a good girl.

I am a good girl now.  By the time I hit 70, I hope to be wearing purple with a red impractical hat (if not a tiara) and bedroom slippers wherever I go because life is too short for uncomfortable shoes.  I want to be known as eccentric, rather than crazy, and entertaining, rather than mean-spirited.  I don’t think I’m mean-spirited.  I want to be free spirited, not worried about consequence or dues paying.  At some point, the dues get all paid up, don’t they?  I mean, don’t they?  And if they don’t, what happens if I just refuse to continue to pay?  Does my membership get revoked?  If so, my membership in WHAT?  The human race?  What are you going to do to me once I’m already retired and don’t need a job anymore?

Check in with me in 20 years, it will be fun.  By then, apparently, I will have changed my air conditioning filter at least 120 times if I’ve done it right.  Or maybe twice, if we’re being realistic.

If you enjoyed this and want to read more like it, visit Lori at her website, www.loriduffwrites.com , on Twitter, or on Facebook. Lori is a National Society of Newspaper Columnists 2018 Columnist winner, and a New Apple, Readers’ Favorite, and eLit award winner for her latest release, “You Know I Love You Because You’re Still Alive.”  She is also the author of the bestselling books “Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza,” and “The Armadillo, the Pickaxe, and the Laundry Basket.

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