Why Everyone Needs to Learn to Say “No, I Can’t.”

Last night I watched the entire Superbowl for, I think, the first time ever.  I’m not a football fan in general, and normally on Superbowl Sunday I have to get up at 3am the next morning to go to work.  This year I don’t have a job, though, so I stayed up and watched the game, the commercials, and, yes, Madonna’s half-time show.  Why don’t I have a job?  Because when it came time for me to go back to work after my fourth cervical spine surgery in three years (think Peyton Manning times two) I said, “No, I can’t”.  I was still in constant pain, pain severe enough that I often couldn’t think clearly.  Pain that necessitated narcotic pain meds and sedating muscle relaxers around the clock.  I’m a nurse.  Going back to work would mean making decisions regarding patient care that could cost someone their life if I was having a bad day pain-wise.  I wanted to go back.  I wanted to support my family financially, make sure we had health insurance and other benefits, and lead a normal, productive life.  Now the job I had has been split into two jobs (yeah, I worked pretty hard) and since the pain still hasn’t improved I’m not sure that I will ever be able to work as a nurse again.  That’s hard to come to terms with.  Just the possibility that I can’t do it anymore.

So I understand why Madonna didn’t say, “No, I can’t” when she was asked to perform the half-time show at the Superbowl.  But she should have.  Because she couldn’t do it.  She lip-synched the entire show, seemed lost on some of the choreography, and sometimes even appeared to be having trouble walking in those high-heeled boots.  Yes, she’s fifty-three, and she looks great.  She hit big when I was in high school, so I’m as much a fan as anyone, and I know most of her older songs by heart.  But it would have been okay for her to say, “You know what?  I’m fifty-three, and I just can’t perform on that level anymore.”  To graciously bow out and let a younger performer or group actually perform last night.  I was following Twitter while I watched the game (Thanks, Fadra, for sending me the link to the Clint Eastwood commercial that I missed!) and although there were several “Best halftime show ever – I love Madonna!” tweets, most people were disappointed and disturbed.  Yes, those songs brought back good memories for me, too, but I could have gotten the same experience from blowing the dust off an old Madonna CD and playing it.  She wasn’t performing.

It’s okay to age gracefully.  To realize that there comes a time when you can’t do all the things you once did.  I don’t expect Madonna to be able to perform the way she did thirty years ago, and it makes me sad that she evidently expects to be able to, or thinks society expects that of her.  Can’t we just appreciate ourselves and others for who we are and what we are able to do right now?

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4 thoughts on “Why Everyone Needs to Learn to Say “No, I Can’t.””

  1. I so agree. I almost felt sorry for her. To be honest, I’m glad I can’t do some of the things I use to do. Getting older is wonderful if you just learn to say “No”. Plus it’s the perfect excuse for not doing things you don’t want to.

  2. I think all of the Super Bowl shows are lip synched. Stadiums don’t make for good concerts, and because it is live they want the sound to be quality. And really? This was one of the best super bowl shows I’ve seen in a long time.

    1. You’re right, the acoustics are awful in stadiums, and probably the people in the stadium enjoyed Madonna’s show (great song selection, great choreography, great costumes) without even realizing she was lip-synching or being able to see the stumbles. The artists who’ve actually performed live at half-time (Paul McCartney, The Who, and ZZ Top most recently) were doubtless more enjoyable for the eleven million folks at home who could tell they were really singing/playing, but it probably didn’t make much difference to the people in the stadium, or maybe was even less enjoyable. Good point!

  3. I think I’m the one who’s getting old, because it just seemed like a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. I was secretly hoping Kelly Clarkson would come back out, in her simple black dress with nary a back-up dancer in sight, and blow everyone away with her voice.

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