Growing Older by Jim Harris
I can't put it off any longer.
I need to talk about growing older. I can't think of anything
more relevant to our health and harmony than the way we deal physically
and emotionally with the gradual, incessant process of aging and
our own mortality.
Having led a particularly debaucherous youth, I can honestly say that now, in my mid-fifties, I'm in better shape than I ever was in my younger days. It's more the attempt to cope intellectually that takes up my valuable time. I remember well, it was on my twenty-first birthday that I first realized that I was actually mortal. It ruined my party and kept me depressed for a good six months. I wandered the streets like Woody Allen, wondering how all these people could be so happy and busy when they knew they were going to die. I gradually stuffed it away and proceeded to careen through life like all the others.
Occasionally, I would take stock and figure out where I was in terms of my allotted time. "Oh I'm only a third of the way through" I'd say, and feel all warm and fuzzy. I started devising ways to make it seem as if I was even less far down the road. For example, I couldn't remember my first three years of life, so I wouldn't count them as years lived. Later, I moved the starting time up to year seven - the "age of reason", and then twenty-one - the alleged age of autonomous adulthood. Eventually though, no matter how I configured it, the preponderance of years began to fall on the "used up" side of the scales.
So, what have I learned? That every age of life is different and unique and we should be grateful to experience them all. That, as I age, the little things increase in beauty and importance. Each Spring is more magical, each day is an ever greater gift. I think that "Have a nice day" is a marvelous sentiment, and I hope that cynicism never removes it from our vocabulary.
If we possessed the ability to live forever, a lot of the meaning and passion would be lost, not to mention the fact that the Earth would soon run out of room, and that every accidental death would be a tragedy of epic proportions. "Poor Bill, he was only 4,000 years old!".
When I look at all I've produced in my life, it seems like a lot, but it's like looking at the stars. They seem to be everywhere when viewed from a distance, but there are vast empty spaces in between them. Those "empty" spaces in my life are the times when I was just living, and those are the times when I have had the most sublime moments. I mustn't forget that. One by one, our compelling causes fall by the wayside and, as Billy Joel wrote, "just surviving becomes the noble fight".
Have a nice day.
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