A SHORT ESSAY ON LIFE, OLD AGE, LOVE, AND EXPECTATIONS
''How swiftly life passes here below! The first quarter of it is gone before we know how to use it; the last quarter finds us incapable of enjoying life. At first we do not know how to live; and when we know how to live it is too late. In the interval between these two useless extremes we waste three-fourths of our time sleeping, working, sorrowing, enduring restraint and every kind of suffering. Life is short, not so much because of the short time it lasts, but because we are allowed scarcely any time to enjoy it. In vain is there a long interval between the hour of death and that of birth; life is still too short, if this interval is not well spent." -- Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile, Book IV
Regardless of how long we may live, we have only today. Yesterday is forever gone and exists only as a fading memory residing in the depths of our minds. Tomorrow is a hope, a dream of things that may, or may not, ever come. Yet, we do have today. It is ours to have, to enjoy, and in which to try to be that that we truly want to be. If we strive to give or receive less than the very best that we are capable, when the end of our life approaches, we will be filled with regrets, and sad, unhappy memories of things that might have been.
Early on, I chose to live my life to to the fullest extent that I was capable. I chose to give and receive the very best that life had to offer--and to always strive to do this to the very best of my abilities and capabilities. I chose to taste the sweetness of honey and the sourness of dill pickles, to smell the aroma of bread as it baked and the repulsive odor of decay and death, to see the beauty of the sunset, and to empathize with a mother as I watched her weep at the loss of a child, to enjoy the physical pleasure of the touch of a loved one and to experience the anguish of unavoidable physical pain. I chose to feel the elation of happiness and love, and to feel the pain of heartbreak and loss. In short, I chose to really live. And so it has always been with me, and so it remains...
With regard to love. As we age and become old, many of us find that during our lives various loves have come and gone. For many of us, our former loves were swept away by the tides of time and death. Does this mean that we should never, or will never, love again? For me, at least, the answer is a resounding no.
So, what should we expect? Should we settle for less than an epic love simply because we are now old and sometimes afflicted with infirmities of age, sad memories, depression, and/or loneliness? Again, the answer for me is absolutely not! At this stage of our lives, no one should be satisfied with less than a truly epic love. A lukewarm, tepid, shallow, romance is a waste of our precious time. But a truly deep abiding love for another is a different matter. I expect to, or already have, found a soulmate. I expect give her my entire being, my heart, mind, and soul, without reservation whatsoever. This kind of love is the stuff of which truly successful lives are made. It is the kind of love about which novels are written and movies made; it is the kind of love on which dreams are based. It is the kind of love that I expect to give, and it is the kind of love that I expect to receive.
To quote Dylan Thomas's famous poem: "Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light." And, I intend to continue doing just that. I shall strive to extract--and to give--all of the love, peace, happiness, and satisfaction that this life has to offer.
A pollyannaish viewpoint tinged with a bit of childish optimism? Perhaps so. Regardless, these are my true feelings. This is the real me after all pretense has been removed. And really living, loving, and being loved by, someone with all my heart and soul is how I will spend the remainder of my days on this earth.
Being a romatic? Of this I am guilty. Hopeless? Naaa...
-- Albert D. Williams