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Senior Momentum -May 2015 - Summaries and Synopses


Senior Momentum - May 2015 - Summaries and Synopses

by Zoe Tummillo

What always bothers me about them – those short versions of everything – is how they try to imply a thorough, legitimate and authentic snapshot of the value of the whole! When something calls these concepts to mind, I think of expressions like in a nutshell, to be brief, and well, to put it simply, and I immediately have questions, reservations and doubts! Did I really get the significant elements?

A lot of us are familiar with the Reader’s Digest condensed versions of articles and short books. Maybe I’m nuts, but I could never help wondering where the lines were drawn. Could what was condensed – trimmed out – be exactly the details and descriptions and parts I would have wanted to stay in?  Summarizing, by its very definition(s) is, after all, just the editor-of-the-moment’s judgment on what is worthy and should be selectively noted, digested, remembered and chosen. Right?

Just something to think about, I guess. Summaries and highlights are famous attendees at, say, reunions, vacation visits and the occasional get-togethers of friends who don’t see each other often (enough). It is virtually impossible to fill in a year or more in a two-week gathering; or, to keep a friend meaningfully in the loop when visits are few and far between.

So, we condense, abbreviate, synopsize and summarize. The result (as any of us knows) is thirty-five or forty partial stories – just “the highlights!” The pared down short version of the many things we did not get to experience – together. Brief is better than nothing, I guess. Remember those booklets you could buy at the college campus bookstore that gave you a capsule version of anything on any subject ... but never a complete version of anything? (Makes you wonder about the real value of some of those “degrees” folks list on resumes!)

With the addition of our electronic gadgetry it becomes easier and easier to stay distant and abbreviated – but seem connected. Even the language of electronic communication is a series of abbreviations – actually, its own language. It’s a virtual, phonetic condensation of the old language. Beautiful words and phrases are reduced to static substitutes: LOL, FYI, BTW.... void of their lilting flow and sounds, their pronunciation abandoned. It seems we just have to take efficiency all the way to absurdity. 

When I look forward to my yearly journey to the east coast to visit family, I promise myself that what I share will be fewer subjects or stories, but clearer and more complete.  It’s not an easy goal. Once we are together we have so much ground we want to cover (while we still can) that the “completion” part often doesn’t happen in the rush to share as much as possible. 

Some of the slack used to be caught up with letter writing. Almost a lost art, personally written letters were the place where one could go into the details. I still write letters, but “those with whom” has dwindled down to less than two or three; and, only one that is consistent. For those of us who relish opening an envelope and reading a long, thoughtful letter, the demise of that very personal mode is just plain sad. 

But, I think it is much, much more. If everything is faster and briefer simply to be faster and briefer, then don’t we, by default, reduce our potential fields of debate, creative controversy, in-depth questioning and positive confrontation? If you are always giving me “the short version” of what’s on your mind, then you are not giving me your fuller insights. And, you sure aren’t inviting mine!

In summary, the other message is clear. We are losing something valuable under the guise of progress and efficiency. I try to do my part. To be brief, I try to keep things stirred up in my own small circles – a little dig here, a little sarcasm there. In a nutshell, can’t hurt; might help!


Zoë Tummillo is a Business & Marketing Consultant, Trainer, Commercial Writer, dba COMMUNICATION CONCEPTS, in private practice since 1974. In addition to Commercial work, she writes “Senior Momentum: A Series of Situations”; “Pieces of My Path”©, essay memoirs of growing up first generation Italian American; and Senior Momentum: Front And Center!©. To contact her: email: