Old age comes to everyone, even the young, though the joke is the young don’t know it. They take youth for granted, which is why they have the luxury to complain they are “bored.” In a way, one of the gifts of age is seeing the end and having the good sense to relish the time that’s left, particularly if a person is in good health.
I turned 76 last month, which means I’m closing the book on the third chapter of my existence, that time when one is likely to have wisdom, energy, financial security and health. A well-kept secret is that between the ages of 65-75 a person enjoys some of life’s best years. As one approaches 80, holding on to this ebullience is less likely. So, at 76, I’m forced to rethink my goals for the fourth and final chapter of my history. Writing shall remain my passion, of course. And I want to go on enjoying my friends, hoping all of us will remain well and happy a while longer. What’s new in my perspective is that I intend to grow more selfish.
In a recent interview, Tommy Lee Jones, an actor of a certain age, said, “I don’t do anything that is not fun.” (“Fighting for Love,” by Meg Grant, AARP magazine 8/9 pg. 51) Of course he’s not being entirely honest. We all submit to tasks that aren’t fun like going to the dentist or getting flu shots. But I won’t quibble. I know what he means. He ranks his activities on a “fun” scale and when he can, he selects the best from the menu.
When I talk about becoming more selfish, I don’t mean failing to consider others. Being selfish can mean giving blood at a blood bank or writing letters for Amnesty International. What “selfish” means to me is closing the door on obligation and duty. If I don’t feel a passion, a joy or a purpose for what I’m asked to do, I’m not going to do it. “Giving,” “loving,” “sharing,” these are all good words that can move me. But “should” is now banished from my vocabulary.
In the fourth chapter of my life, I’ve decided to revive an old word in my lexicon: “liberation.” I do what I do because I want to. Not because I ought.
(Courtesy of pblosser.blogspot.com)