Saturday, January 30, 2016

I'm Glad I'm Old (Part Two)

Let's review, gentlereaders. Last week I posited the following notion. Life is what happens to you while you're making other plans. My position is that if I've learned anything about the nature of reality it's that this is undeniably true. I'm certain there is no shortage of folks who would disagree with this statement, in whole or in part. It's not my style or intention to pick a fight with those who disagree with me on this or any other matter (see, Please Read This First). I may be wrong. I confess that I'm wrong about something with disturbing regularity. That's why I pointed out that if you don't think the notion is true, which I regard as both fundamental and irrefutable, you might wish to spend your valuable time and energy reading or doing something else. There will not be a part three so I hope I don't loose you, assuming you're still there.

I also pointed out, but not as clearly as I might have, that whether I'm right or wrong may not make much difference to you. If you believe in an afterlife where you will still be you, the individual entity that is reading this, then there must be a method to the madness and all that's needed is to pick the right explanation, and live accordingly. If you think death = oblivion it's possible to logically defend living any sort of life you please -- as long as you are willing to minimize or reject those pesky notions of morality and ethics.

Now, being a spiritual and philosophical agnostic, which I define as trying to keep an open mind and soul so I don't get caught comfortably napping if/when truth knocks on the front door, I'm unable to find respite in either of these two positions. Therefore, I've thought a lot about how to live, accordingly. Getting old has provided long-sought clarity. And I'm glad.

The  literal meaning of the phrase life is what happens to you while you're making other plans is not hard to grasp for almost anyone over the age of seven or so. It's interesting that modern psychology has confirmed this bit of traditional wisdom. My corollary -- You don't have all that much control over your life. You never have. You are definitely going to die. You need to live, accordingly -- is what separates the SSC's (sexy seasoned citizens) from the callowyutes, though I'm sure there are exceptions to the rule.

When I was a callowyute I had no problem understanding that in spite of my best efforts my plans often wouldn't work out and that I wouldn't live forever -- intellectually speaking. But it didn't matter because I had years and years and years to fashion a happy, successful life.  And, of course, people do die young but I certainly wouldn't be one of them.

Then I walked around the block several times and one day I realized that I might not someday be a rockstar after all. I personally have known a lot of people who have died and most have not gone peacefully in their sleep. Years and years and years went by in the blink of an eye. So, finding only limited solace in either the spiritual or the sensual realms (saints gotta' eat; libertines discover that too much pleasure is as boring as too much of anything), knowing that I could be dead before the next keystroke or that I might live for another forty years -- what to do?

First of all, relax, and try to enjoy the book/game/show/circus/______.

Personally, I imagine that I'm the hapless main character in an excellent novel, a dark comedy. I enjoy dark comedy, as long as there is at least one likable character that's trying to find their way to the light. I've been taking one step forward, and two steps back, ever since a world-class crapstorm rolled through my life in the spring of '05. This was really pissing me off until I tripped over a couple of truths someone had left on the trail I was on (it's hard to avoid tripping, even falling, when your walking backward).

Wait a minute! I don't have that much control over my life, I never have. No one does. I don't feel all that old, most days anyway, but with each passing day, I'm moving deeper into the wrong end of the actuarial tables. Formerly vague notions have become cold hard facts.

Those lucky bastards I know that at least seem to be having a much easier time of it than I have/had/will have crapstorms of their own to deal with. There are literally billions of my fellow Earthlings who consider me the lucky bastard, and I am, in comparison to them.

[Wait a sec', says the imaginary gentlereader that peers over my left shoulder are you saying limited time and narrowed options are good things?]

Yes, absolute blessings, in light of the fact no one gets out of here alive, but I forgot to acknowledge the gift of reduced energy. Once you grasp, not intellectually but in the very marrow of your bones, that your time is limited, that all you can do is all you can do, and that you can't fix everything by throwing enough energy at it -- what is truly important to you, and the best way to spend your time, will become clear. Your life might still suck sweaty socks but those trips around the block taught you to be grateful for what you have second, by second, by second because it could always be worse, and it might even get better if you wait long enough. I don't know about you but I'm prepared to keep waiting right up to the moment the reaper shows up because I'm certain that if I decided to hasten the process Publishers Clearing House would show up at my door because someone thought it would be funny to enter my name so I'd wind up back on their mailing list and be inundated with even more pointless dead tree format junk mail in my mailbox -- inhale -- and the last words I'd hear as I was floating away would be, "Somebody go get Poppa, there's a man at the door with balloons and a check!"

Second of all (there's a first of all back there somewhere...) be a hero. Most grups are heroes, the world needs heroes. If you're a grup, odds are one of the reasons you keep getting out of bed in the morning, maybe the primary reason, is in service to someone (spouse? kids? grandkids?) or something (your work? your art? your _____?) that you regard as being at least as important as yourself. Thanks.

Have an OK day.                                                                                  

©Mark Mehlmauer 2016

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