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Joni’s Album "Blue" Just Turned 50. Is That Why I Feel So Old?

By Naomi Serviss

Joni Mitchell in the ‘70s
Joni Mitchell in the ‘70s

Our infrastructure is killing us.

Just when we thought it was safe to hug a friend and maybe travel,

Chicken Little comes home to roost.

The sky is falling.

Condos collapse, bridges fail and sinkholes swallow cars.

The Gulf of Mexico’s on fire.

Marine life is paying the price of our hubris and greed.

America’s birthday doesn’t feel as festive this year.

We’re suffering from pandemic fatigue-depression and hyperarousal.

So little time, so much to fret.

Our hellish tsunami year would give Buddha pause.

Baby Boomers are graying and fraying.

Knees are shot, hips need replacing and secretary spread dread is bumming me out.

Who else forgot to take their pill this morning?

When did it become a challenge to assume the lotus position?

Did I really go to the gym at the 92nd Street Y 92 times three years ago?

I did!

The incentive: a free month.

Who was that person?

Now I‘m grateful for an uneventful morning walk in Central Park.

Erica Jong had fear of flying.

I have fear of falling.

My balance has been quirky post-foot surgery.

I measure each step like a sous chef.

It takes me longer to walk two miles, but I’m walking!

I’m still in the game!

Joni Mitchell’s classic album Blue is 50 years old.

I’ve listened to her for half a century.

She burst on to the scene when I was a high school sophomore.

Joel, a classmate, took photos of her in small Philadelphia clubs.

She liked them so much that Joel became a personal photographer to her.

Joni video-tweeted her thanks to fans in June. 

Blonde braids, killer cheekbones.

Her face is beautifully age appropriate.

Blue was panned when first released.

Now people get it and she’s glad.

As Monty Python recommends, always look on the bright side of life.

Waking up twice a night isn’t a highlight.

But at least I’m waking up.

Covid killed too many.

It ravaged lives indiscriminately.

I’m grateful my family has been spared.

It takes longer to rise from a lotus position, but I’m in no rush.

Childhood provided too many cortisol-raising experiences.

I coped and hoped,

Without too much self-inflicted damage.

In second grade I limped a mile home.

I had fallen in the creek behind Marilyn’s house.

My bone was broken.

I was soaked when we returned to Marilyn’s house.

Her mom wanted to lend me a dry change of clothes.

Ashamed, I refused the offer.

I was wearing my older sister’s too-big underwear.

What if Marilyn’s mom noticed and felt sorry for me?

I was drenched when I reached my Colonial Apartments home.

My right foot was swollen and bruised.

My mother didn’t think it was serious.

It was. I ended up in the hospital.

My mother had promised I wouldn’t have to stay.

She also reassured me I wouldn’t get a shot. I was deadly afraid of needles.

I stayed overnight and got a shot.

But I made friends with the little boy and girl sharing the room.

We laughed together at our cartoon-y gowns.

Hayley Mills and the author at a Disney party at Tavern on the Green, circa 2000
Hayley Mills and the author at a Disney party at Tavern on the Green, circa 2000

I’m no Pollyanna, or even Hayley Mills, but her movie character made an indelible impression.

She was the unsinkable Polly Brown. Irresistible.

Pollyanna was a tomboy and loved to climb trees like me!

Even when she (spoiler alert) lost her balance and fell

her radiant recovery vibes caused a sea change in the village.

It’s not easy letting go of negative emotions.

Especially when you’re in physical and metaphorical pain.

I’ve learned a few things from Allan Lokos, a Buddhist meditation teacher at the Community Meditation Center on the Upper West Side.

It’s been my saving grace.

We’ve been meeting virtually this past year.

Allan’s guided meditation and spirited discussions have been restorative and joyous.

He teaches patience, lovingkindness, generosity and compassion.

My foot still hurts, I went up a shoe size and I had to ditch 20 pairs.

But my footgear has narrowed to three excellent athletic sneakers.

Fewer decisions of what to wear!

Maybe the sky isn’t falling after all.


Naomi Serviss is a New York-based award-winning journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Highroads (AAA magazine), in-flight publications, spa and travel magazines and websites, including

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