People who forgot to die.
I see people all around me milling around trying to survive, get a better deal or discover the hidden meaning of life. I met a very old person at the town Post Office and stopped for a chat. Often the older people are lonely even when they have extended family and friends. When they are old and have more needs than things to give they are lonely and feel left out. An older person doesn’t move fast enough for the mainstream and is not taken seriously.
This older man was a respectable member of our community and left his mark but now felt left out and unable to cope with the modern world. The things he did in his youth were forgotten and he could not cope with the latest technological changes which could have made his life easier. I don’t feel that I am alive he said; I feel like I am just existing. He looked at me through a cloudy gray eye and a tear rolled down on his weathered cheek making its way to his big nose where he wiped it with his sleeve, sniffled and set his face tough.
I lived in a different society at one time. We valued the old people for their vast knowledge and often asked them what should be done. There were only a few old people around who survived to very old age and their stored knowledge was considered important. It has changed. Now we view them as surplus in this throwaway society and keep them safe and out of the way.
There are some other kinds of old people around who remain in the mainstream. My teenage grandson calls them the “people who forgot to die.” They are not genius and don’t produce miracles. They just keep themselves viable by doing something that gives them a sense of purpose and they never quit fighting.
I feel like I need a shot of wisdom so I stop at my local barbershop. The proprietor is as old as my dad and he works every day. At seven in the morning, there is already a lineup, and it remains so until after lunch. The price for an excellent haircut is the same as forty years ago and each customer receives personal attention. It is not a business for old people since there are lots of youth and children waiting. This old man doesn’t advertise or take appointments. He simply works hard, does a good job and charges a fair price.
From the Barbershop, I head to a seamstress to shorten a pair of pants. She has her business in a cozy little mobile home and likes to talk about her past. I can’t stay long since there are people behind me carrying material and notions. It is nearing Grad time and young folks need new dresses.
I drive over to the dry cleaners to drop some drapes for cleaning and I am met by a person nearing Ninety. He is smiling and knows his business well. His is one of the oldest businesses in town. Later I pass by his home and see him mowing his lawn. Another example of people who are too busy to give up on life.
Why is it that some folks are merely existing and wishing for a swift end, while others are still in the mainstream doing what they always did? Is it a special diet or possibly the pure mountain air and water? There are many possible explanations so I pick one that is closer to my heart. People live or die depending upon what they believe.
The people I am looking at are useful to their neighbors, community or town. I watch others who lost their drive for life. Some times they lost their mate and gave up on life. I can sympathize. Others fell onto the conveyor belt of life and are carried on without resistance.
As our medical skills improve people can live longer. Some folks live much longer than what was average a hundred years ago. Unfortunately, expectations rarely changed and folks begin to plan death far too early. Society is expecting some steps to happen and dreams often become the reality. I have seen people who had no reason to quit being useful say, I will leave things for the younger generation, make themselves surplus, get sick and die. Others also got sick, changed some habits, got cured and found ways to be useful. They have no time to take steps which bring them towards death.
We dream about retirement years before it happens and set our lives up to be carefree. We get our pension, quit all commitments, travel, play golf, or something else and enjoy. All our lives we waited for weekends and holidays and now it’s a way of life. We downsize, do condo living, move to assisted living, submit to long care and die in a hospital bed. It's all pre-scheduled and falls into place automatically. The body follows our expectations and beliefs, or does it?
I think that the subconscious mind controls most of what we believe to be “reality” since the creative power of God is in it. It has laws and limits and its full of surprises, but it has great power. I think a human doesn’t have to give up on life unless they want to. If they do, for whatever reason, nature will create the circumstances. The earthly creature in the image of God is not an insignificant victim unless it agrees to be so and we do.
This article is not offering medical advice or religious direction, only entertainment designed to provoke deeper thinking. Happiness, I believe, is in our hands at any age.