Thursday, January 8, 2009

What matters

I have not posted nor responded much lately nor visited my blog friends. Been busy. Will get to it.

***

With each passing year -- and yes, I am still quite young -- I become more aware that the greatest challenge of a person's life may well be this: how one responds to the reality of aging and the certainty of death.

Perhaps that sounds morbid. But I didn't invent the concept.

One can Botox from head to toe, squeeze into clothes designed for teenagers or sport a toupee -- and fool no one.

Or the opposite: One can let one's appearance slip to a frightful state, dressing like Hapless Harry or Frumpy Fran in oversized plaids and pastels and never trimming one's nose hair.

But one can also choose to walk the middle road, of staying clean and presentable without screaming for attention, being attractive for one's age and as fit as it is still possible to be.

Pain will come. Nobody will like your kind of music anymore. Your glory day stories will become boring. How will you deal with it? Will you become a complainer, a recluse, a grouch, a crank, a crone? Will you become obsessed with death, feeling intensely sorry for yourself and insisting to all and sundry on a daily basis that you are surely dying?

This week, an old friend of mine, a mentor to me when I first joined the staff of a local newspaper, passed away. His health had been poor even back then, but he still worked hard, stayed involved in his community and looked for ways to be of service whenever he could.

I will never forget when he drove all the way from another city when my car broke down and nobody at my then-office could be bothered to help me get home.

He was a good man -- no, a great man -- all the way up to the very end. Still jovial and loving the next-to-last time that I ever saw him, though confined to a hospital bed. Silent and virtually comatose the very last time I saw him, but that was no fault of his own: he was finally on his way out, after years of physical suffering -- a subject upon which he never dwelt.

8 comments:

citizen of the world said...

I'm very sorry about your frined.

In my experience, people who are kind and optimistic and so on as younger people tend to carry that with them into old age. I would keep my young healthy self forever if I could, but I can't say getting older has been all bad. I still find my life rickh in the things that are imprtant to me, most notably family aand friends.

Eastcoastdweller said...

Citizen:

You know, although I do feel sorry for his bereaved family, I am not sorry for him, nor for myself.

I will miss him but I choose to believe that the Power in charge of the universe is benificent and loving and my friend is in the presence now of that Power, without pain or limitations.

I agree with You about aging. I think that the personality traits of our youth tend to become more accentuated with time, or more noticeable at least, or perhaps just more irksome.

When there is more bodily or emotional pain, typically tied to aging, then someone who never learned to properly cope with pain in their youth, will have a harder time dealing with it.

When one can no longer use youthful physical beauty or physical strength to escape from problems, or as a smokescreen to hide character flaws, then those flaws become revealed in all their garish ugliness.

Beautiful souls tend to age better, whilst the high school beauty queen -- or handsome homecoming hunk -- who lives a selfish and grasping life will be a fright to look upon in later years.

kat said...

I am so sorry for your loss and so glad that you had such a great friend/mentor in your life. My heart goes out to all who grieve. Thank you for sharing so much with us!


email me... I have lost yours :-(

Eastcoastdweller said...

Kat: An email has been sent Your way. (o:

kat said...

ty you too have a nice day!

Ela said...

I guess the death has to hit close to home for one to really recognize the loss. but that is my opinion.
Then the question comes more often. what's important in life, what do we want why do we even live etc.
I hope that pain isn't necessary in dying because that would really really suck.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Sorry for your loss. Still I believe it must feel like a privileged to have had the joy of knowing such a person as a friend. A light along our life's journey.

Genevieve said...

I, too, am sorry that you have lost your good friend.