Archive for July, 2008

setting the direction

So, here’s the situation. A couple of weeks ago it was my birthday. I’m not quite sixty yet, but I’m breathing down its neck. This week I had a doctor’s appointment to find the results of a CT scan done to figure out why I have a sore side. All things point to the fact that I am getting older, and that at some point in the future I will probably be having physical problems that most likely will incapacitate me to a lesser or greater degree. There is nothing so serious that it needs immediate attention, but the handwriting is on the wall. So, what does someone with my mindset do with this information? He uses it to set the stage for the rest of his life.

I have loathed giving up on the dreams of my youth and still considered the achievement of those dreams possible, even if a bit delayed and requiring modification. It is increasingly apparent to this old – and getting older – fart, that this is not going to happen. While it is sad to have never done the things I wanted to do, I can’t go back and change that. Fortunately, I have a lot of things that I still want to do that do not require the physical strength and health of youth.  I guess I should be grateful that my life never revolved around playing sports and that my income has never relied on physical labor.

Since I have to reevaluate my situation in life, let’s ask the really big , over-arching question – what is the purpose of the rest of my life? It doesn’t matter what I may have considered to be my life’s purpose up to this point. The slate is wiped clean and I am starting from here, as is the only possibility in the real world. My answer? The purpose of my life is to be as happy as I can be.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? One might think that everyone in the world feels this way. The truth is, they do, but most people refuse to look at themselves with the honesty necessary to realize it. Many people see their lives as only a state of obligation, where they feel they are living only to please other people, and rarely themselves. They make their choices based on what they feel they are obliged to do, but do not consider performing that obligation to be happiness. In truth, it may not create spasms of joy, but the choices they are make are those which make them the most happy, even if it is between the lesser of two or more evils.

Sounds selfish, too, doesn’t it? Well, my friend, it is, and I am past the point of caring what you, or anyone else for that matter, think about it. I have no idea how many days I have left on this earth and I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend them confined by someone else’s view of how I should live my life. I’m going to do whatever I can to make my last days on earth here as happy as possible. I know that does not mean that I will be living in ecstasy every day, but I hope to be able to go to bed at night saying, “It was a good day to be alive.” Yeah, there will be trying days, but they are going to be there no matter what, so I’ll do what I can to minimize them and to maximize the good days.

If I ever get to the point where I can’t tell the difference between a good day and a bad day, I hope I have one last viable brain cell that still knows how to pull a trigger. Until that day, full steam ahead and damn the torpedoes.

bookmark: stumbling on happiness

Stumbling on Happiness – by Daniel Gilbert

This book didn’t help me find happiness, but it had some interesting facts about our psychological makeup. He cites lots of studies about how people’s expectations of happiness, or memories of happiness, don’t really match the realities of the situation at the time of the happiness. Essentially, it kind of says that we are pretty clueless about how to achieve happiness, and I think the title really is saying that we should consider ourselves damn lucky to stumble across anything that will make us happy.

(Finished 7/14/08)

christmas in july

I was taking a quick look on Amazon.com for a song I wanted and got a little side-tracked. I looked up the albums for the singer I was interested in and found a Christmas album listed in the discography. I took a minute to check it out, and found myself aching emotionally.

With my birthday coming up very soon, I’ve been more than aware of my age. It came as a bit of a shock to me the other day when I was thinking about my mother. If I were to die at the same age as she, I would only have fourteen more years to live. FOURTEEN! That’s a blink of the eye. And, as I mentioned a few posts ago, there are people dropping dead who are my current age, and I could easily join them.

Listening to a preview of “The Christmas Song” – one of my favorite Christmas tunes – I was suddenly overwhelmed by the fact that someday I won’t be around to enjoy another Christmas. Wow – what a thought. To the people who don’t give a rat’s patoot about Christmas, try substituting some other holiday or event that means a lot to you and to which you look forward each year. Bad enough that I’m going to have to die, and probably sooner than later, but to miss Christmas for all the rest of eternity? Unthinkable.

Maybe that’s all part of the “Scrooge” revelation – the realization that there is a finite amount of time left in our lives and that we would serve ourselves and others better for that time by “keeping Christmas well,” not only at Christmastime, but all year long.

It’s fascinating how just hearing a few Christmas songs can suddenly bring on the whole holiday season feeling, even though it’s the middle of summer with the sun shining and temperatures in the eighties. Maybe listening to a Christmas song now and then throughout the year wouldn’t be a bad idea. Dang, now I want to go home, make some hot chocolate, put on some Christmas music and do some Christmas cross-stitching.