by Kenneth Justice
~ “Kenneth, I feel like its simply too late for me to do anything more…my body is just so worn out. Some days its all I can do just to get out of bed”
I was sitting at coffee recently talking to a friend of mine who just retired. He is getting older in his years and worn out. His career for the past thirty years or so definitely took a toll on both his physical body and his mental faculties. He had to deal with a lot of stress in various forms and retirement which he was looking forward to for so long……is now something he is beginning to see as nothing more than another exhausting issue he must think about.
“At least when I was still working it forced me to get up every morning. Sure, towards the end I really started to hate my job….but at least it gave me some type of purpose and it helped me ignore all of the pain I am in” he said
With New Year’s day fast approaching its hard for me to not think of all the time that I’ve lost in the past year. Like it or not, there were so many things I had hoped to accomplish yet I simply ran out of time. Of course, while I don’t like to spend too much time dwelling on the negative…its hard to ignore the fact that I’m not growing any younger.
It’s funny the way us people in the Western World make a big deal out of particular dates. It’s not as though January 1st is any more or less important than March 3rd or August 10th…..but because we’ve designated it the “New Year” many of us use this time to look back at the past year and weigh our various accomplishments or lack thereof. For many of us turning 16 or 21 were ‘big’ years; it meant that we could finally drive a car or here in the U.S. it meant we could legally order an alcoholic drink (although by 21 most Americans are already seasoned drinkers).
A lot of people look at their 40th year as a monumental year; if they haven’t accomplished what they want with their life by age 40 then it can cause some people to get really depressed or it can stir others to generating an even greater passion and drive to meet the goals they have set before themselves.
I’m barely in my mid-30’s and yet I have felt a strong pressure to do something more with my life for a long time. When my father was alive he was one of the most successful businessmen I’ve ever known. By his mid-forties he had created companies in numerous states and had more employees and contractors than I could count……..But I’m not a businessman. Never have been and never will be…….I always preferred sitting in my library studying Plato or Aquinas……I’ve always been nothing more than an armchair philosopher who enjoyed a nice cup of coffee. Thus, when I think of all that my father accomplished and weigh it against my meager existence I tend to think that I am simply not doing enough with life…..and so with another New Years day coming it is simply one more reminder to me of how little I’ve accomplished with my life.
My friend sitting with me at coffee has accomplished a lot with his life. He doesn’t realize it but he’s been one of the most important people in my life for the past five years. He’s also touched a lot of other peoples lives, “Look dude, most people would be thankful to have done half of what you have done” I told him, but he just smiled and brushed it off. “Kenneth, its all taken such a toll on my body. Some days the pain is unbearable…..so all I can say is that I just don’t know“.
Nobody can really tell us what our life amounts to and what it is worth….its something that each of us must figure out for ourselves. My friend who died last year was well into his eighties when he took his last breath. He was one of the greatest men I’ve ever known and touched more lives than most people could do in ten lifetimes. He was a high school counselor for thirty years and a minister for 35 years…..Yet as I sat next to him in the hospital as he was dying he gave me the same old look through his tired eyes, “Kenneth, I wish I had done more“. I recall getting into an argument with him while he was still in his seventies, his wife was still alive at the time and she was taking my side, “You should quit blaming yourself because you’ve done so much good with your life…it’s not your fault that the world is getting crazier all the time” we told him. But he wouldn’t listen to us, “Kenneth” he told me, “Don’t ever let others define you…….you have to decide for yourself who you will be” he said
So I guess as New Years day comes on Wednesday I will be thinking about all of this…..I’ll be wondering what my life is really all about. I’ll make myself a cup of coffee and look out the window……I wonder what the New Year will bring?
BTW) If you are wondering what the New Year will bring come back to my blog on New Years day for my big announcement!
Categories: Culture & Society