Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Choice

"What that means in my life is that my great love, like my great goals, ambitions and dreams, was made of dust, but I've long known that the grand things almost always are, and I've long known that it's the not-so-grand things that make life worth living: a cup of pea soup, a small glass of bitter beer, a new friend, an old memory, a warm fire on a cold day, a cool breeze on a hot one, the smell inside a dog's ear, putting one word after another."

From "Old Heart" by Peter Ferry.

This is the book I am currently reading. It is the story of an 85 year old man whose family wants to put him into a home. He, however, would prefer to maintain his independence.

So he runs away. To Europe. To find an old love he hasn't seen in over forty years.

What a great and improbable story. But is it that improbable?

What happens when your life becomes so narrowed by age that you no longer have choices or control. When others want to do what they think is best for you (maybe) against your wishes; when you have more life left in you than anyone can imagine or even give you credit for?

Aging is a son of a bitch and life is a disappointment. Life inevitably backs you into a corner where you must decide if you have the courage to make a bold statement in stark contrast to the way you have lived, or meekly accept a humiliating slide into irrelevance.

"Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Powerful words, easier said than done.

From "Do not go gentle into that good night" by Dylan Thomas.

Read the rest of the poem. It is short. It is worth the effort.

Quick and meaningless aside: Dylan Thomas died in 1953. I wish I could have spent one drunken night with the man trading words.

Anyway, if you are of a certain age, and life has not stripped you of your very essence, you cannot help but think about drastic action.

You can burn your life down or give it meaning.

The choice is everything.

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