I’ll be 64 a month. That is an inconceivable thing to type much less to comprehend.
I’m older now than my mother got to be. Or her father, or her youngest brother. That legacy, and the sum of the years behind me, are much on my mind, especially as friends and loved ones continue to exit the stage. There’s been a lot of that lately; we recently said goodbye to one of our few remaining elders. All of us “kids” are now in our 50s and 60s.
On the other hand, my dad lived to be 85, despite doing his very best to shorten his existence. His mother and siblings were blessed with similar longevity, if not better habits. As to my prognosis, I’m betting the over.
Of course, none of us know when it’s the last time we’ll see someone, or when we’ll be seen last. I’ve been a lot less reticent to let the people who matter to me know how I feel about them. Family, friends, and colleagues. It’s become more important to me, for reasons I haven’t fully worked out but have relaxed into.
There’s way too much harshness today, in nearly all aspects of life. This adds to the stress of just getting through the day, and makes the mundane seem menacing. Unless it’s literally life and death, it’s not. But we are making it seem so.
One of my early mentors was an ex-Army Captain who served in Vietnam. He once counseled me, seeing I was fretting over some silly thing, to have perspective. “Unless you are sending people off to battle, it’s just not that important.” I’ve carried that advice with me, though I have not always been successful in applying it.
“Even though you seize the day, it still will flee; therefore, you must vie with time’s swiftness in the speed of using it, and, as from a torrent that rushes by and will not always flow, you must drink quickly.”- Seneca
Perspective seems like a luxury in our breakneck, increasingly hostile world. It’s becoming more and more difficult to live mindfully and peacfully. The cost of everything is much higher, materially for sure, and our attention to important things is derailed. We strive for more, and increasingly fail to grasp what we are reaching for. There always more to be done, or so we think, and thus we keep pulling ourselves uphill.
Maybe if we do more for others, rather than serve ourselves we can loosen our own yokes. Maybe the way out is to not pull harder, but to rise gently into service. If we can change others’ lives, if we lift rather than push, can we in turn change our future path?
What better use of the time we have is there?
Very nicely written Al and those very thoughts plague many of us. It is however helpful to know many others as yourself have those very thoughts and inspirations. Yes I agree that doing for others does in fact shift the focus.
I find that even thinking positively about smallish things will help me slow down and cool off.
At 74 now I too contemplate my departure in those "cooling off" periods of reflection.
Thank You for your words!