Posted by Mike
I don’t like the image nor the use in the advertisement: “One Shot: Make it Count.“ The local personal injury lawyer with signs plastered all over our area is trying to scare injury victims his way. But I was thinking about his advertisement and the notion behind it while I was driving to work this morning, extending just a bit on the idea. The issue for me was life and time. Being rather far along in the second half of my life, time seems much more important to me than it used to. When you’re younger you think that you have all the time in the world, not only to do what you want to do, but also to waste a whole bunch of it! Time is really very precious. When you look at it that way, every day is of value — even this hour, this moment. I know that when we’re young we’re not programmed to give a whole lot of thought to this issue, though we all do think of it occasionally. At this point my desire is to hold on to the idea better right now and from now on. But I know something of human nature. I wonder?
At my age too there’s the issue too of regrets and guilt. I like steps eight and nine of the 12-Step programs: “Make a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.” And “Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.“ Lots of time we can’t make amends, but we can respond differently in the present and offer intangibles to others as well as tangibles to make up for past offenses. We harm others, of course, through acts of omission perhaps more than those of commission. Sometimes the omissions are far more significant than the commissions. Obviously, there’s no way we can really fully “make up” for what we have or have not done in the past; and therefore it seems to me that we do need to find some way to relieve ourselves of the excessive burdens of the past. Although we need to make amends as well as learn from our past mistakes and change the ways we think and act, carrying massive excess emotional baggage from our past does us no good whatsoever. We become mired in the past. When you’re like that, you’re just treading water, waiting for death and of little value to yourself or for others. One of the big issues for older persons is that of maintaining their value, and trying to accomplish that while being burdened with the past is an impossible task.
Speaking of death, I got enraged at Death today. For some reason I was thinking about a woman psychologist I knew years ago, with whom I was friends as well as having a professional relationship. I ran into her accidentally in a work setting maybe fifteen years after our work together. A few years later I heard she had died of cancer. What I felt this morning was anger, not only about her premature death, but I thought of the others I have known who have died too soon, and I‘m also talking about people in their 70‘s and older too, who had a lot of life left in them. It’s not fair. It’s a loss – somehow our very personal loss, even if in some cases the relationship was only of acquaintance. Then I thought of those almost 5000 young Americans who have died in our current unnecessary wars (not to mention the thousands of non-Americans who have died in these conflicts). It’s not fair.
Of course it’s not fair. And I don’t feel anger now, just sadness – which is the authentic, immediate feeling reaction to loss, that we so often cover up with anger. “One Shot: Make it Count.” Perhaps we can soften the idea to something like “Relationships are fragile: Tend them carefully – with lots of love.”
We men on earth are probably on a very low level, but we have our task…that task is to bring consciousness to the life of earth – or, as Jung wrote in his old age, “to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” – J. B. Priestley, Man and Time
By embracing life’s fragility, that this moment is all you ever have, you awaken to life’s fullness and possibility. – Gary Buffone, The Myth of Tomorrow
Let us look lovingly upon the present, for it holds only knowledge that is forever true. – Gerald Jampolsky, Love is Letting Go of Fear