Oliver Sacks, upon learning of his diagnosis of terminal cancer wrote:
“I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends. I shall no longer look at “NewsHour” every night. I shall no longer pay any attention to politics or arguments about global warming.
This is not indifference but detachment — I still care deeply about the Middle East, about global warming, about growing inequality, but these are no longer my business; they belong to the future. I rejoice when I meet gifted young people — even the one who biopsied and diagnosed my metastases. I feel the future is in good hands.”
In some ways I did the same when I retired. I no longer cared to carry the deep resentments of the past, nor worry about the future of my Department, it’s all in God’s and those of the more than competent young staff. Worrying about what will happen next is in a way selfish and narcissistic.
What seems like a million years ago, when I was throwing a tantrum about some project or program I was leaving behind, a much older co worker told me, you are like a fist in a bucket of water, when you pull it out, the water rushes in to take its place.
So his words were true… They were painful words to hear at the time, as I was very busy sloshing in the pale of cold, indifferent water.
We should all leave to the young the joy of working hard, dreaming of possibilities and the practice of learning from doing.
We should if possible, turn our earned knowledge into advice, our lessons-learned into training, our heartaches into prevention.
To live fully means to do as much as we can in the time that we have. It does not mean holding on doggedly to that which we consider defines us. In fact, it does define us… and that’s the problem.
We must define ourselves as we choose. Sometimes, that means dumping old habits and patterns and creating new ones (albeit seemingly temporary and at times less impactful).
But we don’t, do we?
We hold onto comfortable routine and enjoy the listless floating as wave riders instead of wave makers.Its just easier to remember and define ourselves as we were instead of creating a new meaningful identity.
Then there is all that pressure to be who others expect us to be. That in and of itself can bruise us deeply and fill us with resentment when we succumb to the demands of others.
No, we must learn to be alone, doing that which pleases us, when it pleases us. Yes, even if we are young and married and filled with the guilt of expectations for our sacrifice. Sometimes, as often as possible, we have to remind ourselves of who we are. For it is in remembering who we were born to be that we can reach out to the rest of our world’s inhabitants (children, siblings, spouses, friends, coworkers, neighbors) and help them be who they were born to be.
No matter our stage in life, we must remember our core self in all that we do. Being able to define ourselves as we see ourselves is at the heart of being one with God. For in fulfilling our birthright, we fulfill God’s plan for us. And fulfilling that plan intentionally and purposefully is all that God wants for us…a closer relationship with Him through a close relationship with ourselves and ultimately, a nonjudgmental relationship with those around us.
Be still and know that I am God.
Thanks for being my friends.