I’m 67 which is near 70 and 70 is, well, 70 is closer to the end than the beginning or maybe even the middle of life. Don’t take issue if you are of the silver generation as national statistics conclude 76 is the average lifespan of an American male*. I continually question much about what I believe, who I am, the legacy I will leave and, of course, what happens when I die. Is there really a heaven and another life? Do I get in? If I don’t, will I be tormented in hell? Do Christians believe there is life after our mortal bodies expire because it’s a convenient idea? Did mankind invent religion because we crave someone to lead us? Was the desire to have a god make things right designed into us or is it an inherent human “flaw”, as atheism contends? If it is a flaw in our DNA, how did it get there? Is any of this important?
*Population Reference Bureau
Over time our true self becomes apparent to those we are closest to and no one is closer to me than me. If I don’t like what I see I can conceal that part, justify my actions or begin a process of change. Think about these three choices a minute. When you say or do something you instinctively know was the wrong choice of words or actions do you: a) ignore it , b) rationalize it or c), seriously question it? Choosing the first two becomes instinctive and we do this without so much as flinching.
Delving deep that a belief hidden in one’s heart is the reason we repeat episodes of harmful words, engage in gossip or continually judge others (these are minimal examples) takes courage and time commitment. Our sense of pride will almost always rule over a desire to make any sort of course change and the moment passes. There are also examples of omission such as failing to say, “thank you” or “I appreciate what you did”. Another example might be failing to visit someone in the hospital or not attending a memorial service for a deceased friend’s loved one because you find it uncomfortable or inconvenient. One man told me he “just didn’t go to funerals, period.” Beliefs we have hidden in our heart dictate our thoughts and actions and only a change in a belief will allow a person to grow past deficient behaviors.
I have obtained a inner peace and a joy because I go head to head with every behavior or belief I find suspect. I certainly was not an unhappy man before I began to prioritize this, I just wanted more from life than the usual “fun” things deliver and knew there was more. As we mature we recognize and identify past trade offs such exchanging family or intimate moments for selfish pursuits. We’ve all done it to some degree. I used to become obsessed with hobbies, for reasons I can’t explain, other than finding them a place to be happy. I swapped acquiring knowledge for trivial pursuits and traded hard earned monies for fun things that never delivered the temptations of the acquisition.
I love Jack Nicholson’s line in “A Few Good Men” as he says “You can’t handle the truth!” responding to interrogations by Tom Cruise in his role as the clever rookie naval lawyer. Truer words were never spoken when it comes to getting honest with our own behaviors. I can’t love others in a healthy way until I love myself in a healthy way. Healthy means it is good for me and for my spouse, my children, my friends and employees. Good and bad become subjective and left to our own devices we classify good and bad based on how something makes us feel combined with the influences of others. This is Alice’s rabbit hole and the more we chase down it the more apparent it becomes. Proof surrounds us. Much of what we accept as normal, or even good today, may have been considered bad or evil in the past. Who decides these things? How did they decide? Am I part of the decision-making process? If not, can I be? Do I want to be? Am I good or am I bad?
To be continued……..