I am experiencing a new phase in my life that I suspect is related to the aging process. Most probably, it should be termed a life review. Periodically, I find myself reexamining various events in my past with the mindset of an impartial observer.
Most often, it takes place when I awaken around 5:00 a.m. or so for my attendance to nature’s call. When I return to bed, I find it difficult to turn off my monkey brain. So, I lie and think about everything under the sun. Frequently, this includes various events in my past.
During the day, anything can trigger this line of thinking. It may be a particular object that I encounter, an activity in which I am engaged or just some downtime when I am not distracted by something else. It would be delightful if I were dwelling on a review of my triumphs and accomplishments. Usually, however, I begin thinking about the mistakes I have made, situations I have mishandled or people I have known.
I am somewhat amused by the lack of knowledge that often contributed to my blunders. At the time, I was unaware of how little I knew about what I was attempting to do. This was particularly true of building projects in which I was engaged. The old axiom is absolutely true: a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
Today, the internet is a wonderful source of information to fill the gap. Instructional videos are available on a wide range of topics. The only requirement for a higher level of success is a little humility. This doesn’t even require a public admission of ignorance. It is possible to sit in the privacy of one’s home and learn how to do it right the first time.
I am sorry that this resource was not available to me years ago. My hope is that I never created a situation that resulted in any major damage to any of the structures I built. As I reflect on previous projects, I am aware of many of the things I did wrong and how I could have done better, but we are not afforded the luxury of returning in time to redo our mistakes.
Occasionally, I talk to people who have maintained friendships for many years. I am astonished when I learn of those who still are in contact with friends from elementary school. My wife attended a boarding school throughout high school and still maintains close relationships with many of her classmates.
I have only had one long term friendship that lasted more than forty years. Sadly, Dave died from his bout with cancer a couple of years ago. It was just by accident that we both wound up living in the same area in Florida. Had that not taken place, I don’t know that we would have reconnected after living in separate regions of the country for many years.
I enjoy being around people, but I am also quite comfortable with solitude. My friendships tend to be situational and last as long as the immediate association does. When I move or engage in a different activity, I tend to lose contact with former acquaintances. This might be different if my lack of vision didn’t prevent me from accessing social media like others do.
When I think back on friends, coworkers and acquaintances from years ago, I frequently issue a hope to the universe on their behalf that their life has been peaceful and full of joy. With many, it would be nice to catch up on how life has been, but I don’t have a burning desire to track anybody down. In all honesty, there are a few that I would be happy not to encounter.
Socrates has been quoted as having said, “an unexamined life is not worth living.” I suppose he intended that the examination would be an ongoing process. I fully embrace this approach to life and have tended to be introspective for the majority of my adulthood.
What I am experiencing now seems to be something other than considering a course change. I don’t have a ‘bucket list’ or anticipate pursuing any great ventures. At 71, I feel like I am winding down and preparing for the final stretch of my journey. The focus of my reflections is not how I should proceed but whether or not my life has been worthwhile.
It is challenging to be objective. I think we all tend to be the heroes or martyrs of our own stories, especially in our younger years. Like Joan of Arc, we are either riding in on our white charger to save the day or being horribly misunderstood and unfairly condemned to burn at the stake. Self-evaluation can be just as misguided. We can revel in our presumed triumphs or be overly critical and beat ourselves up.
Generally, I think I have done all right. I have a strong belief that a positive future for humanity depends on our collective recognition of our interconnection and interdependence. Consequently, I have tried to live with this perspective in mind, promoting harmony and peace among those I encounter and seeking to give more than I have taken.
I suspect that I am not alone in this end time review. It might make for an interesting topic for a gathering of seniors and even be beneficial for younger adults who might like to have a glimpse of what their futures hold in store for them.