Respecting the Priorities of Others

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available at, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website:

Now, on to my blog:

lampshades We all have our priorities. Why can’t lampshades be someone’s? I met that someone recently when I was shopping for the item in question.

I was wandering through a local shopping mall and strolled into a store that sold exclusively lamps and lampshades. The threshold tripped the bell in back whereupon a man I presumed to be the store owner emerged and asked the standard shopkeeper question: May I help you? I explained that I was looking for shades for a few table lamps. That was his cue.

The man proceeded to educate me about lampshades and their importance in my life, a subject about which I had given very little thought. He made it clear that he was an expert in the field and, according to him, choosing the proper lampshade “is the most important decision you’ll have to make.” I never knew that, and I pondered over it for the appropriate period of time to satisfy him.

Together, we surveyed the store’s offerings as my host explained each shade’s details to me. One had to consider proportion, material, light emitted or blocked, price, color, and more. However, I had made a grave error. I had not brought my shadeless lamps with me for a proper fitting. I was embarrassed by my error and begged forgiveness. He succumbed, but only after I agreed to bring said objects the next time I came looking for their toppings.

After my guide told me he had been in the lampshade business for over thirty years, I understood his perspective. We all think that what we are doing is the most important, urgent, relevant pursuit there is. Although someone else’s passion may be totally different than ours, and even something that seems silly to us, can we not respect other points of view? After all, it may be something they have spent decades pursuing and perfecting, and who are we to decide that it has little or no relevance?

I’ve always treated lampshades as simply decorative filters for the lights I need in my home. However, to this man they were his field of expertise, just as doctors, lawyers, and others have theirs, and it was refreshing to see him taking pride in his work. Lampshades were the vehicle to put food on his table and provide shelter from the elements. What’s wrong with that?

Perhaps we can respect differences of opinion, priority, or emphasis even though we don’t adopt them as our own? Although my focus in life is not lampshades, or least it didn’t used to be, who’s to say that what I deem most important needs to be so for others? Let’s accept, appreciate, and acknowledge that something like lampshades may be compelling and significant in the life of another? It makes bumping up against each other in a crowded society just a bit easier.


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Filed under aging gracefully, Uncategorized

8 responses to “Respecting the Priorities of Others

  1. Love this one…wish I had been able to go into his store when I wanted to buy lampshades for two of my mom’s lamps. I needed his expertise and guidance which I didn’t find at the stores i went to. Thanks for sharing, recognizing and appreciating another’s perspective and priorities are so important.

  2. Always such a dose of inspiration to find some one impassioned by what they do. As a novelist & sometime actress, your post reminds me about how characters need motives, even if they’re secret ones 🙂

  3. Marlene

    Your insight and empathy are humbling. I’m so glad that your new digs and new life are conducive to the continuation of such lovely writing!

    • Thank you so much, Marlene. Writing has become a significant part of my life. I can’t seem to have an experience without my mind crafting a story, blog, etc. which incorporates it.

  4. Roger Trammell

    …one of your best, LGG, very insightful.

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