There is a sweet stillness between the cold of winter’s breath and the inviting warmth of spring’s renewal. It is the pause before we inhale fully the scent of fresh grass and the fragrant trace of a newly budded flower. Winter in its cold fury only emphasizes spring’s layers of soft textures and colors.
I Saw a Man
I saw a man who has suffered with Parkinson’s for ten years continue to play tennis, golf and exercise with weights weekly to maintain his strength, independence and quality of life. He perceived life with intensity and a sense of humor. He accepted PD and made it his own. He understood his medication, took it on time and accredited its effects. He learned to own the disease, not deny it. He learned to fight, not succumb.
It's Just My Time, Forrest
In a bedroom in his childhood home, an adult Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) finds his mother (Sally Field) lying in bed dying. “What’s the matter Mama?” Forrest asks with genuine concern. She answers with practically and stoicism, “It’s just my time, Forrest, it’s just my time!” We all have an appointment with our last breath and Forrest’s mama knows it is her time. Any senior will tell you life is short. Our time seems to come quickly, as if life is an express train reaching its destination in too hurriedly a manner. Many advise us to appreciate the journey with all its twists and curves, for the destination can be abrupt and final.
Life is Difficult
Published 1978 in his book The Road Less Traveled, psychiatrist F. Scott Peck immortalized the phrase “Life is difficult”. In short, he encouraged us to embrace the virtues of a disciplined life, delay gratification, and accept responsibility for oneself and one’s actions. He wrote, “Problems do not go away. They must be worked through or else they remain, forever a barrier to the growth and development of the spirit.
A Beautiful Time of Year
Fall is a beautiful time of year. It is the time when nature thrills and astounds. Fall’s smells and colors glide through the air to keep vital our senses excited still by summer’s realm. Fall can astound– odors of a dormant chimney newly lit to warm a morning’s chill; colorful foliage demanding recognition; of fallen leaves, bright to the eye, crackling underfoot.
Three Dimensions Plus Time
The universe we humans inhabit is huge, almost beyond reckoning. It seems to stretch past the limits of knowledge, both in wonder and light-years. To conceive its majesty is simply to stare into space on a star-lit night and realize you are peering back in time, but simultaneously into the future. We ponder on matter, on anti-matter, on dark matter, and on dark energy. Sub-atomic particles, the Higgs boson and “before” the big bang all enter our vocabulary as if these large concepts are easily assimilated and understood.
The Myths of Growing Old
Aging, we are told, represents the Golden Years; a time to reap the benefits of a life lived with industry and intensity. It is a time for reflection, for enjoying retirement, of accomplishing things long put off, of settling into a comfortable chair, of taking time to admire a beautiful day, of having few time limitations, of the easing of responsibilities, and of reaping the rewards of a life well lived.
Attitude is Everything
Attitude is everything. It is who we are, who we want to be, who we can be! Attitude is just not pertinent to humans—we observe it in all species. It is like the air we breathe; it is all around us.
Observe a hawk floating in a lazy arc high in the air. Folding its wings, it drops like a missile on unsuspecting prey and then gracefully floats upward on a warm updraft. A lion’s roar alone defines the jungle king, its mane dancing in the warm African breeze, its teeth a carnivore’s allure.
Do Not Go Gentle…
In 1951, Welsh poet Dylan Thomas wrote a poem for his dying father. In but a few lines and stanzas, he captures the angst, confusion and fear of those who die and those who witness death:
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.
To Touch a Speeding Train
I’m a car length behind as the red lights begin flashing and the gates slowly lower serving as a barrier over the railroad crossing. My first reaction is annoyance, a subdued aggravation that my right of access and speed has been restricted. But then an excitement arises. It starts as a low rumble in the distance accompanied by a faint tremor felt emanating from the ground. And then the train rumbles through the intersection. If I’m at Kinderkamack Road in Emerson, it’s a commuter train that thoughtfully stops to pick up its passengers in progress toward the Hoboken rail terminal. If I’m at Madison Avenue in Dumont, it’s a freight train hauling 150 loaded freight cars heading to some depot ensconced somewhere in New Jersey.
We are made of memories. Like a high-rise building, our memories are the floors upon which we are structured. From our earliest years, we store stimuli and events which shape us physiologically and psychologically. We are what we absorb, using memories to shape our personalities and reactions to life. Without those memories, we become a mere shell of a building; if there are no floors, there is no internal structure. As Alzheimer’s disease dramatically demonstrates, those who lose memories become a mere memory themselves.