There are days when I wake up feeling hopelessly despondent and about as relevant as a party-line, wall-mounted, rotary telephone. That’s my daily challenge, to resist the self-deprecating tendency to think I have nothing left to live for; no value to contribute; no purpose whatsoever for still hanging around.
I have to remind myself that when the Bulls get spanked and the Bears get shellacked that is not cause for leaving cremation instructions for the coroner and a note under the pillow, ‘goodbye world, I’ve had enough of Coach Fox.’ More importantly, I am not suffering from the creeping hell of something like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or living under the Lawrence Street viaduct trying to survive by begging for quarters with a crumbling Starbucks cup.
I take a shower instead of a pity bath. And as the disturbing headlines and distasteful tweets that greet us every morning grow in number, I take my place on the side of love.
As I’ve grown older I’ve learned that vulnerability is strength, not a weakness! It leaves room for people to reach out in kinship, offering compassion and caring rather than cynicism and competitiveness.
When you hear another person share his or her pain, you feel it as well. Compassion wells up within you. It gains in power as a wave rolling in from far offshore, gaining in magnitude until it forms and crashes on the shore…and in that moment it’s clear why you are still here and what remains for you to do.
Yes, I have been a bit flowery. So here is the practical instruction. Join a men’s group, volunteer to help older men deal with the issues of aging, coach a little league team; do what works for you: a book club, political caucus, volunteering to read to hospice patients, just about anything that keeps you connected.
It’s doesn’t have to be all that serious. Take an extension course, travel to new places, learn to knit or take a cooking class and most fun of all, be grandpa to a seven year old with more energy than a nuclear centrifuge.
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