Some Remembrances of a Blessed Life

It’s been said that youth is wasted on the young. At sixty-five years of age, I think I have the wisdom now to say that is one of the dumbest sayings I’ve ever heard. It has a certain ring to it, and it sounds to be wise, but think about this: We’re gifted with life for a purpose. Some of us are better at figuring out what our purpose is and many of us, well, we just float along until the final act. But, no matter how we approach life, each chapter provides a learning opportunity. Realizing that youth, young adulthood, middle age and if we’re fortunate to experience old age, all give us opportunities to learn, develop, contribute, become closer to God or just flop miserably. The opportunity is there at ever interval, so whether we’re good at using the opportunities or not, they’re not wasted.

Recently, I was having a conversation with my twenty-four-year old son, who is still residing at home. I mentioned to him how when many of us are young we feel vibrant, without many illnesses. It’s at that time that we feel as though we’ll live forever, with the physical vibrancy that we’re experiencing at the time. At sixty-five, having gone through the last fifteen years with Multiple Myeloma as my daily companion, I realize clearly that nobody is blessed to have excellent health. Ailments and frailties of various kinds just seem to lie in wait, anxious to pounce when you least expect them to do so.  I can recall when I was in my mid-thirties; I would run five miles per day. The high I would get from the adrenaline rush and the sheer emotional joy of knowing I could do such a fete was quite satisfying. I promised myself back then that I would run until I was well into my eighties. That, of course was promise I had no ability to keep.

Exercise has been important to me as far back as I can remember. Although I got caught up in the habit of smoking cigarettes as a teen, I always had an interest in maintaining some degree of having good health. Through my college years, I would do pushups and various kinds of resistance exercises in my dormitory room. I was fortunate to have a room of my own most of my college days, so I didn’t have to worry with a roommate intruding on my private activities. Later, after college, I continued to smoke until I reached the age of 26. At 26, an urge to throw away the cigarettes took strong hold of me and I discarded them without hesitation. I’ve chalked my ability to do that as being that I really didn’t have a habit, since I experienced no difficulties with withdrawal. I threw away the cigarettes, bought a pair of running shoes and never looked back.

Today, I find myself blessed in retirement, with three adult children, two grandchildren and one great grandchild. My life has had its challenges, but all of its chapters have offered learning and growth opportunities, including the younger years.

An Exercise in Patience

Four weeks ago, I got a puppy, a three-month-old Shih-tzu. I had a dog before this one for a good number of years. She died about six years ago, and I honestly haven’t been able to bring myself to the point of getting another one until now. Her name was Spanky, strange name for a female dog, isn’t it? But, Spanky fit her well. She was older when I got her, well trained. She even knew how to come get any family member from anywhere in the house, and lead them to the back door where she could exit to do her business. Now, that’s a well-trained canine. Now, I’ve accepted a challenge that will confront me with the need for patience. If you haven’t house trained a young puppy before, you haven’t a clue of which I speak.
Patience is one of those Godly virtues that we often hear jokes about: I would pray for patience, but I don’t have the time to wait on it. No matter the ripe opportunities the idea of patience might grant us to craft jocular phrases, it’s without doubt a valuable character trait. With a good dose of patience, one can demonstrate a commendable sense of maturity that can help navigate many of the stones and thistles life presents. On the other hand, some might say that patience has slowed certain leaps in justice that should have come long before their final time of arrival. Whatever side, or corner, of the argument you might take, I think it’s hard to deny the fact that society would probably be in much better shape if more patience would play out in our interactions with each other.
With adequate amounts of patience, parents may be able to nurture their children along a line of development that presents less conflict. Spouses may be able to wait on each other to catch up to a point of consciousness to which only one has arrived, e.g., management of finances, keeping clutter to a minimum, being on time for appointments… Patience could be the one character attribute that could bring peace to an otherwise conflict-laden existence. Patience seems to me to be the one thing that could be the foundation for practicing mindfulness. In case you’re wondering whether I’m about to go all Zen, no I’m not. I just think that being mindful of our existence is a good practice to which we all should devote some time and energy. It’s important that we be aware of all things around us, and how patience can assist in living for the moment. When we try to force events, we’re often trying to create wine before its time. I’m hoping that my experience with my new puppy (Ari) will prompt me to take one step at a time, instead of trying to run at the challenges of house training. If my patience with Ari can be translated to patience with my family, friends and associate, this exercise may just be worth its investment of time and energy. One thing’s certain, with a puppy you’ve got to exercise patience with everything.
I’m old and blessed. It’s about time to exercise some patience in my life.