Sometimes I want to shake sense into the young or anyone who lives in the land of “what if.” It’s a terrible place of longing, dissatisfaction and of continually looking to the future for a solution to the present. On Facebook, recently, a young man wrote about his broken heart. What if he wrote his love a poem, he wondered. Would it bring his girlfriend back to him? Perhaps not. But to be inspired to write a poem is wonderful enough.
Scrolling further down the screen, I came upon a man who complained that his job took him far from home for long periods of time. He missed his wife. What if he had a job that required no travel, he wrote. I wanted to reply how lucky he was to love someone with such passion.
I know it’s smug to think that old age doesn’t dull our vision but focuses it. Yet I believe that freed from the tyranny of ambition and raging hormones, the older mind can contemplate an enlarged life — which, oddly enough, is a simple one. Each night, for example, I think of those less fortunate than I. I think of the homeless or the displaced who have escaped from a war torn country. Unlike them, I have a safe pillow upon which to rest my head. I am mindful of that blessing and am grateful for it, as I am for my health, my friends and a good book to read. I am even grateful for silence.
Simple pleasures of the here and now is all that life offers. Fail to appreciate them and our days are fraught with longing.
To those game enough to heed my advice, I’ll make you a promise. If you can concentrate on the breath, each breath as it is taken, if you can stay in the moment, then 30, 40, or 50 years into the future, as you sit before a looking glass, the face staring back at you will reflect the mindful past which, step by step, has given you a full life. Think of me then and remember that I kept my promise.
(Tom Hussey photo courtesy of www.buzzfeed.com)