After 56 years on the planet, I’m still trying to figure it all out. Perhaps, I’ll be trying to figure it out until my time is gone. I guess everyone else is trying to figure it out, too.
As an aging baby-boomer, I get glimpses of wisdom from the generations that have come before. I hear my elders say things I don’t understand and can’t understand. Then I get older -- to the age they were when they said what they said. I have an “ah ha” moment and understand. I even find myself saying and thinking what I formerly just didn’t get.
My father-in-law is 32 years older than me. He’s reaching the end-game. He tells me that he’s not afraid of death. This I get, but not at the visceral level that I think he gets it. The visceral understanding, I believe, comes from the sense of having had a complete, full life. I was very afraid of death as a child, moderately afraid of death as a young adult and less afraid of death now.
Don’t get me wrong, death right now would be a disappointment. I think it’s because I haven’t done everything I want to do yet. I haven’t fully launched my daughters on independence (from me, anyway). I don’t feel that I’ve left my mark on the world. I don’t have that sense of completion. Maybe all of this only comes from getting older and letting go.
As I get older, the possibilities that were seemingly infinite suddenly get finite. I’m in good shape, but I’ve let go of ever being an athlete. I’m getting to be a moderately skilled glass-blowing craftsman, but I’ve let go of ever being an artist. I’m a good singer, but I’ve let go of singing in a renowned quartet. As I age, my world narrows in the slippery slope to oblivion.
The flip side of this narrowing of possibilities, though, is the narrowing of pretenses. I no longer feel I have anything to prove. I less and less feel obligated to do things, and more and more do the things I’m inspired to do. It gets down to finding your essence – your inner core and expressing that, somehow.
Why express it? I think it’s to benefit others – younger generations and future generations. Somehow, to me, that’s the meaning of life, the meaning of everything – to make things better for others and leave the earth a little better than you found it. And that’s what keeps me going.