Autopilot, Habit, And Deep Breathing

Welcome to the first instalment of my journey through mindfulness training. I am embarking on this course and I intend to write a blog on each step along the way. These are the points I was told about at the start:

Just as our lives have many difficulties, so too does our mindfulness training and practice. Our problems come and sit with us during our meditations. We hope to CONFRONT them rather than AVOID them. We might be able to escape a few unwanted experiences, but we cannot avoid them all, particularly the most unpleasant ones: sickness, old age, and death.

Problems turn out to be stepping-stones to mindfulness mastery. To face and accept difficulty requires COURAGE.

What is courage? It’s NOT the absence of fear. Fear is a component of courage. You feel fear and then you stand your ground, this is courage.

Dealing with concentration and discouragement are musts if you are to succeed in mindfulness.

Focusing your attention on your breathing is the basic exercise for maintaining concentration.

We have to remind ourselves that the only way to fail at meditation is not to do it. So, you don’t want to get discouraged. Discouragement is just an emotion. It will pass.

You have an AUTOPILOT that kicks in when you are thinking about ordinary concerns, you then are oblivious to things happening elsewhere.

The autopilot allows us to extend our working memory by creating habits, such as brushing your teeth. You do these things without thinking. But if you are constantly on autopilot you lose your awareness of the present.

What do you do to regain your innate mindfulness? The answer is to focus your awareness on one thing at a time.

***

Here’s an exercise I did: It’s sort of a Grape Meditation.

Take a grape and hold it in the palm of your hand. Can you feel its weight? Do you see its shadow on your palm? See its shape and touch it to explore its texture. How does it feel? Smell it, does it have a scent?

Now, place the grape in your mouth, explore it with your tongue. Start chewing it, notice the taste of the juice. Finally, swallow it and be aware of the swallowing process.

***

You’ve just tasted this one grape more than the bunch you usually stuff in your mouth without thinking!

How many times in the past have you paid so much attention to what you were doing?

The main point here is: You only have the present to live. But we tend to live in the past or the future. We hardly notice what’s happening in the present moment.

***

You need to focus your scattered mind on a single object like your breath. Be aware of your breath as it moves in and out of your body. Take a deep breath and hold it for 1-2-3-4-5 seconds and then exhale slowly. Do this for 5 minutes and you feel relaxed and your mind won’t wander so much because you’re focusing on your breathing.

After moments of clear awareness with your deep breathing you may slip back into your streams of random thoughts. What to do?

Just notice your thoughts as thoughts and bring your attention back to your breathing.

Congrats, you’ve just taken the first step back to full awareness.

Doing your breathing exercises at different times during the day will provide you with a quiet refuge from the noise of everyday life.

When you’re feeling stressful and anxious just do your 5 minutes of deep breathing and you will feel better right away. With your deep breathing, you will have your anchor to hang on to always.

With each breath of air, you obtain oxygen and release the waste product carbon dioxide. Good breathing habits can enhance your psychological and physical well-being.

The best breathing pattern is deep diaphragmatic breathing. This breathing is slower and deeper than shallow chest breathing.

As you breathe sometimes your mind wanders. If you count your breaths it will help your mind and body calm down.

Inhale—exhale (one), continue up to four and start over. Make sure that your exhale is always longer than your inhale. This will prevent you from taking short shallow breaths.

Continue counting your exhales in sets of four for ten minutes.

This exercise can also be used to help you go to sleep!

WOW! I FEEL BETTER ALREADY AFTER ONLY ONE TRAINING SESSION!

GREAT!

HOW ABOUT YOU?

Coping With Traumatic Events

My neighbor, Jim, who is 70 years old, asked me if I had any ideas on coping with his wife’s death because he felt so depressed, even after 6 months of grieving. They had been married for 40 years.

He was naturally shocked and it left him feeling hopeless.

“Jim, this subject of coping came up in my Discussion Club and some answers came forward.”

Jim had a far away look in his eyes.

I continued, “How do you feel now after the 6 months.”

“I feel like I’m in a perpetual crisis,” he said, soberly.

Tears ran down his cheeks.

Wiping the tears away, Jim continued, “I feel overwhelmed by my wife’s death and it seems like my world has collapsed. I don’t have any hope for my future alone.”

He hesitated for a minute then he said:

“What can be done about my mental state?”

“Well, Jim, the answers are the same for any traumatic event that you have to cope with.

Resignation to the situation is a great help. Say to yourself, “I’m going to live through this and I’m going to endure it.” In other words, you are accepting your depression and not fighting it. You might behave like a walking zombie for a while but time does heal.”

“But, I feel like I’ve lost everything. This grief is getting to me,” Jim said, hopelessly.

“Jim, disruptions in life are a regular occurrence. We attach ourselves to people and things so letting go isn’t easy, the more we try to hold on the more pain we feel. Death is a loss we can’t control.”

“But, how do we cope and overcome depression?”

“Grieving is the way we come to terms with loss. Life involves a string of losses, death of friends and loved ones, loss of possessions, money, job, hope, confidence, our dreams, and loss of health.”

“But, what’s the answer?” Jim shouted.

He started wringing his hands. I waited a minute to let him calm down, then I said:

“Acceptance is the answer. Acceptance of the trauma is what is needed. Having to let go of what we have is sometimes unavoidable. You need to accept the inevitability of loss. Once we accept and stop fighting loss, healing can start.”

“What do YOU do in the face of trauma?”

Well, Jim, my wife died of cancer within 6 months. The shock was almost unbearable. Mindfulness training helped me cope and face life again.”

“How did YOU feel about the loss?’

“Loss is traumatic. All areas of life involve loss: childhood, adolescence, middle-age, and old age. But these losses can create new life if we accept the sorrow. Eventually, the suffering subsides and we experience, in the present, heightened awareness and joy. Throw yourself into each moment, for it is the only life you have.”

“Tell me more about this mindfulness stuff,” Jim said, with a glimmer of hope in his voice.

“Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the Present Moment, while calmly accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. You need to be consciously in the Present.”

“Do you mean we spend most of our lives in a semi-conscious state?”

“That’s right, we dwell on the past, and think about the future. We aren’t making positive choices about our lives.”

“So, you’re saying that we can change the operation of our own minds?”

“That’s right. I cannot stop getting old or dying. I cannot control your opinion of me, I can’t change the past. But, and this is a big BUT. I can choose how I will REACT to getting old and to your opinion of me, and finally I can decide how my past will influence me and the person I will become in the future. I have CHOICES.”

“So, what’s the final conclusion? Can you tell me?”

“Jim, I will try.”

I could see eagerness in Jim’s eyes.

“We have to ACCEPT the loss of EVERYTHING in life. In the end, we will be separated from everything we hold dear. Throughout life, we have to say “so long” to loved ones, to possessions, to our dreams and hopes. Mindfulness helps us to PREPARE for that inevitability and to ACCEPT it with joy and contentment and live what life we have left fully.”

“Boy, that was a mouthful,” said Jim, smiling.

“Glad to see you smile again, my friend.”

I waited a minute to have all that I had said sink in.

“Finally, mindfulness reminds us that life is ephemeral and denying that only brings unhappiness. Accepting the impermanence of life is liberation and allows us to be happy and appreciate life.”

“Is that it?’ Jim said, seriously.

“One more thing, remember to punctuate your day with the anchor of breathing exercises. Deep inhale, hold, and slow exhale through the mouth. These breathing spaces during the day will calm you and re-establish your focus on the here and now, the only life you have.”

My neighbor was smiling from ear to ear.

“Jim, good luck with your exercises and your choices.”

Breathe In New Life!

I was sitting with my eyes closed. I took a deep breath through my nose and held it for three seconds. Then I exhaled through my mouth. I observed my chest expanding and contracting with each breath.

I was doing this for five minutes, when a voice from behind me said:

“What the hell are you doing?”

My eyes popped open. I turned around and there was my next -door neighbor. He sat down on the diner stool next to me.

“I’m practicing mindful breathing,” I said, smiling.

“Does it do any good?”

“Oh yes, it calms me down and gives more oxygen to my brain, which makes me feel good.”

My neighbor didn’t look convinced. He ordered a cup of coffee glancing at my yogurt.

“It also helps me stay in the present moment,” I continued, “I just started mindfulness training.”

“Mindfulness! That’s all that meditation stuff isn’t it?”

“Yes it is.”

“Do you sit cross-legged on the floor?”

“No, I don’t. I stand or sit in a chair.”

What’s mindfulness all about?”

“Living in the Present, the only life we have. Our minds have two ways of relating to the world, the Doing Mode and the Being Mode.”

“Oh my, I hope we are not getting into the Twilight Zone?” My neighbor pretended to be afraid.

“Relax, Jim,” that was my neighbor’s name.

“The Doing Mode automates our life by using habits, like tying your shoelaces. It’s also our problem solving mode, but sometimes it over thinks and ends up compounding our difficulties.”

Jim was a study in concentration.

“The Being Mode is a shift in perspective. With mindfulness we experience life through our senses more. It uses the senses to live in the “NOW”.

“Wow! Dave, you’ve got my head whizzing around,” Jim laughed.

“Well, lets get it whizzing around some more,” I said, smiling.

“Jim, do you live a lot in the past and future?”

“Oh yes, I’m always ruminating in the past and thinking about the future when I’m under stress.”

“See Jim, you’re lost in mental time travel at the expense of your precious Present. You create stress for yourself by RE-LIVING past events and then you RE-FEEL their pain. And if you live in the future, stress makes you think disaster is around the corner. So, you’re PRE-LIVING the future and PRE-FEELING its impact!”

“So, Dave, you’re saying mindfulness training is the answer, is that right?”

“Yes, my friend, you need to train your mind so you can live your life as it happens in the Present. You can still remember the past and plan for the future, but you will “see” memory as memory and planning as planning. Then you go back to the only life you have, the Present.”

“Makes sense to me,” said Jim, “But, I always thought people either had a happy disposition or a miserable one! It was encoded in the genes.”

“With mindfulness you can escape that emotional set point and alter your moods. It’s all good stuff, Jim.”

Jim looked quizzical.

“Lets do some breathing exercises:

Deep breath in and hold, 1-2-3-4-5 and exhale slowly through your mouth.

Can you feel the extra oxygen in your brain?”

“I feel something. I feel more relaxed. Why is breathing so important?”

“Jim, the breathing exercise is your anchor to the Present. The best way to keep calm during the day is to have regular breathing spaces.”

“Why breathing?”

“Because breathing is always with you. You can’t live without it. You can live without food for weeks, without water for a few days, but you can’t survive without breathing for more than a few tens of seconds. It is LIFE!”

“Anything else?”

“Yes, breathing doesn’t need us, the breath breathes itself. Your breath is a moving target to ground you in the Present. Finally, it provides an anchor for your attention.”

We continued breathing exercises for 15 minutes and then we left the diner smiling!

 

 

 

I Had A Dream…

I was walking in a fog but through the fog I could see people jogging, dieting and loading up on health-store formulas, to hopefully extend their lives as long as possible. I shook my head.

Then I saw other people drinking and smoking and taking life risking chances as though they were impatient to shuffle off this mortal coil. I thought, people are a puzzle and also very funny.

 

The fog became thicker but I kept walking forward. There was an owl hooting in the distance.

 

Then the fog cleared and I was in a huge room with a gigantic clock on the wall.

The time on the clock was 11 PM, I knew it must be PM because it was pitch black outside. Then a fella popped out of nowhere and he was trying to hold back the second hand on the clock, but he failed. Time marches forward!

 

Out of the mist a long bench appeared with 12 black-robed men sitting behind the bench. They were all faceless!

I was sitting below the huge bench looking up at these judges. Then one spoke:

“You are accused of NOT conforming to the rules of Aging. We are here to interrogate you.”

I shivered in the damp mist.

“Of course at the end of Aging is Death, what is your view?” said another judge.

“I have a mature view on death. Mortality is universal, everyone dies, personally, me too, it’s inevitable, final and irreversible.”

The judge nodded his head

“Do you hear voices in your head?” said another judge.

“Yes, a voice in a dark corner of my mind says:

“I will die.”

My death is a certainty, only the timing is uncertain.

The 12 judges looked at each other with their faceless heads, knowing that what I said also applies to them.

“Do you think it’s a chaotic world?” said two judges in unison.

“Yes, I do. But many people need their illusions such as religion, myth and ideology to establish a meaningful world in their minds. When in fact it is a chaotic world and many people deny their limitations.

 

There was a hush in the room and the faceless judges were squirming in their seats. One judge spoke up angrily: “So how do you propose people should face up to aging and eventual death?”

All of a sudden the same chap that tried to stop the huge clock’s second hand before, jumped up for another go, but he failed.

I thought, I must convince these faceless judges that I know what I’m talking about and I am being falsely accused.

 

I took a deep breath and said:

“Many people have personal perspectives on aging and dying. They have seen family and friends go from health to illness and from illness to death. We all should realize we are living under a suspended sentence of death that could come at some unknown time in the future. So, there is some facing up to do.”

 

Some of the judges got up from their chairs and started pacing up and down behind the bench. I began to wonder if these black-robed creatures were “Death’s Disciples!” There was a chill in the air.

 

“Well, lets see, how do people face up to aging and death? Many people go into Denial. They say, “No, Not Me! I can’t be getting old and dying.”

These people feel numb and paralyzed.

Then after denial usually comes Anger. Facts must be faced and resentment sets in, “It’s Not Fair!”

Then some people think they can make a Deal with fate. “Please hold off the aging and dying UNTIL some event or goal is accomplished.” It’s a sort of rekindling of hope.”

 

“What next?” the judges yelled.

“Hope fades and Depression sets in, this is a difficult time. And finally there is Acceptance. The struggle is over and the inevitable is accepted and they live their remaining life the best they can.

“Is there an upside to all of this?” said the faceless creatures.

“Yes there is, with the prospect of NON-BEING comes the motivation to live the remainder of life fully.

 

The judges were mumbling among themselves. There was much commotion going on.

I blurted out: “ Aging and dying are part of living and living is part of dying. It’s a paradox.”

The faceless ones were really squirming now.

“So, if you’re so smart, what is the process in the last chapter of life?” said the head faceless creature.

The fog was starting to reform.

I thought, if I can get through this, I will have them beat!

 

“The situation process of aging and dying starts with Restricted Activity. This means you can do less.

Then comes Limited Energy. You have to conserve your strength.

Physical Downturn comes next with aches and pains.

Then comes Disempowerment and Incompetency. People aren’t persuaded by you anymore and they think you can’t do anything right.

Becoming Ineffective is next. You can’t meet challenges anymore.

Then there is Anxiety about Time. I have a short future so I can’t do all the things I wanted to.

Loss is the feeling of loosing all that is important to you.

Disengagement is next. You are content to let the world go by and withdraw from interactions and responsibilities.

Then comes Brain Flaws. Mental functioning slows. The world seems to be slipping away.”

The black-robed faceless judges started disappearing into the reforming fog.

“And finally we come to The Story Telling. We make up stories to integrate the aging and dying into our whole life. There is a need to put everything in perspective. People are concerned with finding or creating a story that summarizes the meaning of their life. This job is carried out in the most difficult of circumstances. This job has to be done before the ultimate separation of the person from the world.

It all boils down to:

Living One Day At A Time And Enjoying The Day As Much As Possible.”

 

The owl stopped hooting and the 12 faceless judges were gone!

The clock struck 12 and the fog was getting thicker!

I woke up in a cold sweat!

Remind me to read Freud’s Dream Theory.

 

Hope and Time Perspectives

Hope is a feeling of desire for a particular something to happen; a want.

Everyone needs to have at least some hope in order to keep their present morale up. Hope strengthens the immune system and consequently physical health.

 

“Live in the present, because that is all you have, the “NOW.”

How many times have you heard this admonition? Yet, the past and future are important also. It is a sort of illusion of time.

 

Although your life is the present, the past has influenced your present greatly and the future is the need which is essential to the present’s morale, having something to look forward to. Take away a person’s future and their present collapses.

 

The future will become the present, so you want to prepare for it. The present is important because it’s your reality. It’s also the time to prepare for a later reality, the future.

 

You need hope to keep moving forward. But with hope, letdown is possible!

Where there is little or no hope, there is hopelessness, otherwise known as depression.

 

Resignation is the reaction to depression. It is a feeling of accepting the knowledge that what has been desired will NOT be attained. But you still keep on, keeping on!

 

“Time is flying!” How many times have you heard that?

Time goes faster when you’re older for a few reasons:

When we are old, we have more past than future.

The young perceive a vast amount of time ahead of them, so time goes slower for them.

After fifty or so, our physical body slows down, so time appears to go by faster, because we are slower, but really time continues to move at the same rate!

 

In middle-age, everything comes and then is gone. The phrase: “And this too will pass,” is used constantly and it applies to everything and everyone.

 

If we are lucky enough to reach old age, the realization that we are no longer middle-aged is a devastating loss, but we must confront it.

 

In old age we start thinking about certain questions:

“What was the point of it all, this thing called life?”

“What is death?”

As far as the point of it all, you create your own meaning in life, it’s your responsibility.

Life is when the heart is beating, the blood keeps circulating, the lungs breathe and your brain still perceives. One is ALIVE, you eat, sleep, feel pain and joy.

In Death, there is a permanent cessation of all the vital functions: breathing ceases, the heart stops and the brain no longer reacts to stimuli, one cannot experience, think or feel. You become a corpse, fit for the worms to feed on or if cremated, ashes. There is nothing before birth and nothing after death!

So, in old age we must learn how to face death serenely, because it’s part of life.

 

I conclude this article with:

“ENJOY THE NOW. KEEP CALM AND DRINK WINE.”

 

 

 

Moods and Attitudes

What is your mood right now? Good or bad? Can moods be controlled? Each moment you are thinking, you’re a thinking machine, and these thoughts have an impact on the way you feel.

 

At this moment you’re probably thinking: Who’s this guy Writer Dave and what does he know about mood therapy? So, you’re feeling angry and annoyed.

OR: Maybe you’re feeling positive and interested. Maybe this guy Writer Dave has some information on the subject. Maybe I can learn something helpful.

 

So you see, your thoughts are creating your feelings and your moods. Lets define mood: it’s a state of mind; it can be good or angry, sullen and irritable.

 

Through cognitive therapy you can control your moods and ride the storm. All your moods, good or bad, are created by your “cognitions” or thoughts. Your thoughts at this moment actually create your mood emotion. Another thing to recognize is that your turmoil contains gross distortions and these are what make you feel upset.

 

Now, when you are in a bad mood, your self-image collapses, your thoughts and actions defeat you. So, what are these twisted thoughts or distortions?

Black and white thinking is one, because you failed at something you think: “That’s it, I’m a failure, a zero” Black or white, there is no gray area. Life is never just one way or another, there are always gray areas.

 

Sometimes you take your emotions as the absolute truth. Ex- I feel like a failure, therefore I am a failure, this is emotional reasoning which is twisted. In the end you start blaming yourself for your distorted thinking and there is no basis for doing so.

 

So, what can be done to control your negative moods? These are the moods that lead to self-esteem loss and a tendency to do nothing. Because when you’re in a bad mood you don’t feel like doing much and you think you are worthless.

 

You need to confront your internal critic, who tells you that you are no good and inferior to other people. Ex- “I never do anything right,” this is self-criticism. Now say to yourself, “Nonsense! I do a lot of things right,” this is your rational self-defense. You feel better right away by defending against the critic.

 

So, you can change your mood from bad to good by changing the way you think. You are not only a thinker, you are a doer too. So instead of doing nothing, get going and do something like investing time in a hobby.

 

Attitudes and moods are similar states; if you have a good attitude toward things you will have a good mood. Lets define attitude: it’s a way of thinking or feeling about something.

 

Our moods and attitudes directly affect how we feel about everything in life. Without the right attitudes we will never have the happiness or success that we so badly want. We ARE our attitudes and our attitudes ARE us!

 

So, you must take responsibility for your moods and attitudes. What do you say to yourself to promote that?

You say: “I take responsibility for my thoughts and attitudes and moods. I am in control of my mind.” You feel better already, right?

Now talk to yourself about your self-esteem.

You say: “I am unique and special. I like who I am and I feel good.”

Also: “ I like who I am, and it’s great to be me.”

 

So now, you are beginning to believe the BEST about yourself, each day and in any circumstance. Think this way and you will feel good. It’s your CHOICE! Live fully and think good thoughts.

LIFE IS FOR LIVING, OTHERWISE IT’S NOT LIFE!

 

The Muse

I was sitting in my favorite booth in my favorite restaurant/tavern, mulling over some notes on a book I was writing, or trying to write. I was wondering if the plot was good enough to cover 250 pages. I didn’t want to get stuck in the middle wondering how to proceed.

 

“May I join you?” A soft voice was speaking.

I looked up from my papers to see a slim, mature woman dressed in a white silk dress with a short matching cape draped over her shoulders.

“Of course,” I mumbled.

She sat opposite me in the green upholstered booth. She had a margarita in her hand. I was staring at a beautiful woman with honey blond hair. Her crimson red lipstick sent an inviting message.

“Do I know you from somewhere?” I stammered.

She shook her head and her long dangling earrings wiggled.

“No,” she whispered, “but I saw you looking so serious at your papers, that I was intrigued to find out what you were doing.”

“I’m trying to figure out the structure of my new book.”

“You need a muse to help you.”

“Funny you should say that, I was looking for a muse to give me inspiration.”

“Well, I’m available for muse duty,” she smiled.

She took a sip of her drink, keeping her green eyes focused on me. Her eyes seemed to penetrate my very soul.

I took a big gulp of my beer and asked:

“Are you familiar with a muse’s duties?”

“Oh yes, I’ve been a muse before. I can help your soul by taking away the awful burden of responsibility for the outcome of your creative efforts.”

She reached across the table and held my hand and smiled. I felt myself melting under her stare.

I composed myself and said:

“Can you define for me the work that a writer’s muse does?”

“I would be happy to, Dave.”

“How did you know my name?” I said, abruptly.

“I noticed it on your papers, Writer Dave, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is.” I said in wonderment.

We both sat looking into each other’s eye, at one point I thought the booth was on fire, the heat was so intense.

Her eyebrows were arched above her sweeping eyelashes, her green eyes flashing, when she said:

“The muse is the feminine part of the male writer. Her job is to penetrate the writer and bring out the creative work from the womb of his mind. It’s a sort of gender reversal. I can provide a source of inspiration for you, a sense of passion to create better works.”

 

The waiter came and asked if I wanted another beer, but he didn’t even notice the woman in white opposite me.

“Yes please, another beer plus a shot of whisky. I needed another stiff drink.

The woman in white was still there looking at me with those dreamy eyes. She had hardly touched her margarita. She was stroking my hand now and the hairs on the back of my neck stood erect.

Her voice was all around me, whispering in my ears. I could feel her warm breath!

“Dave, I will make you a creative whirlwind propelling you to high levels of artistic creativity.”

My hormones were starting to stimulate me to a high level of emotional intensity. I was enjoying the rush of creative juices.

She spoke again:

“All my powers are rushing through you. Are you happy now? Do you understand that everything I do, I do it for you?”

She stood up and gave me a long hug.

The next thing I knew, I had my head in my folded arms on the table in slumber mode. The waiter was shaking me.

“Where is the lady in white?” I mumbled.

“There’s no lady here, just you,” said the waiter, quizzically.

I shook my head and left the tavern. Out in the fresh air, I felt good because now I knew I had a muse of my own.

The book I was working on became a success and I hoped I could call on the muse again in the future. It wasn’t just a dream. I know it was real!!!

 

 

What’s It All About, Writer Dave?

As I go through the precious days until my 80th birthday, a little over 450 days from now, I think about the “Big Questions.” Why 80? Because for me I think the time is right to examine my life in terms of meaning. But you could do it at any age.

 

What’s it all about? This question pops into my consciousness quite often lately. The question triggers a whole raft of other questions:

Where did life come from?

Who am I?

Why am I here?

What is the purpose of life?

It also prompts you to think about your calendar of life.

The twenties: This is the peak period of youth. There are so many things you wanted to do, but the time went too fast.

The thirties: Some maturity is added to your youth. We try many things while the flame of youth still burns.

The forties: The prime of life. The fulfillment of career and family life, which is the fruition of life. Many of us would wish this period was endless, but it isn’t!

The fifties: We start thinking philosophically because we are reaping the benefit of wisdom that was not there earlier. It’s the pinnacle of your development.

The sixties: The golden years, time seems to be speeding past us. We enjoy not struggling so much and relaxing.

The seventies: There is a feeling of time slipping by. But we still have hope in our hearts for good times.

The eighties: The stage of life where you keep looking back at the past. It all goes so fast, you didn’t realize. Do people ever realize life while they are living it?

Quoting Python’s “Meaning of Life”: Are we just spiraling coils of self-replicating DNA?

 

Can some of the answer to our question be in looking at our origins?

From what we know the beginning started with the Big Bang, about 15 billion years ago, then single-cell life forms popped out of the sea, and through evolution came the emergence of Homo Sapiens about 500,000 years ago. As science has progressed and we know more and more about our beginnings, God has been written out of the picture and all the answers religion has given us are not relevant now. So, we have to figure out our own meaning. I was wondering…

Can’t we just live our lives in the present and that in itself is our purpose?

 

Or, maybe we should look to the future. Does life’s purpose rely on the achievement of future goals? But, when you get old, if you’re lucky, mortality becomes a problem because then there will come a time when we have NO future! Goals are great but once they’re reached we need new goals, or emptiness takes over! So maybe, life’s purpose is to continue creating goals to live forward to, until the end.

 

If we live in the present moment and life’s purpose relies on living in these moments, then in the end, life’s purpose must slip away. Our attitudes toward our mortality are important to our sense of well-being.

 

My friend tells me, from his barstool: “We must seize the day to really live fully.”

He says: “Party on.”

With that we both ordered another beer. My friend continued: “The facts are simple, Dave, we are mortal, we are trapped in the present and we could die at any time. So, seize the day, why sit around agonizing over the meaning of life, you’re using up your moments!!!”

 

I left my friend, as he ordered another beer, and I walked out into the sunshine.

I thought: “What a wonderful thing “barstool wisdom” is.”

 

Then I remembered some of the wonderful moments I’ve had in my life and how fleeting they were. These moments made you feel ALIVE! But seize the day philosophy can be bittersweet, when you think of the joy of the moment and the pain of it passing.

 

Whatever we value in life, relationships, hugging your partner, creativity, learning, a good meal, should not be put off, we have to make everyday count. The great wisdom of carpe diem is that life is fleeting and we should not squander it.

 

Another friend of mine, who doesn’t drink, said:

“I don’t think about meaning, I just LIVE. I’m happy and I don’t ponder “Big Questions.” I must be doing something right.”

 

What I think he meant was he is content to do what he does and this is enough to make his life meaningful. Sometimes thinking too much about “Big Questions” can be a stumbling block to making life meaningful.

 

But, for myself, I can’t avoid thinking about “What’s it all about?” Thinking it through seems, to me, therapeutic, even if I don’t come to a final answer.

 

Thinking about the “Big Questions” helps me to have the power to find and determine my meaning. Which in turn makes me feel good. Each of us are different and we have to make many choices in life that only we can make to construct a worthwhile life.

 

NO ONE FINDS LIFE WORTH LIVING; ONE MUST MAKE IT WORTH LIVING!

Two Years To Eighty!

I haven’t lost interest in the activities that I enjoy. I don’t have feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. I don’t find it hard to get through the day. With all my aches and pains I can still LAUGH.

 

I walk with a slight limp but I still manage to put one foot in front of the other. I forgave my parents for the crime of throwing me into the world with clubfeet. But I was lucky my mother got me treatment right away so I wouldn’t be a cripple.

 

So, at approaching eighty, I haven’t yet grown sour and bitter and I enjoy my hobby of writing. So I’ve got it licked!

 

Humans are the only species that are consciously aware of their own mortality. I use my mortality as a motivator to enjoy what life I have left.

 

It’s a great irony that humans are both brilliant and savage, caring and indifferent, creative and destructive to self and others. So, the capacity to be aware of your mortality and to conceptualize has negative and positive consequences. I never had fame or wealth but in many ways I’m glad I’m a nobody, I’m happier! I am happy I’m free to do what I want to do with some limitations.

 

One by one death claims your loved ones and your friends. The older you grow the faster your peers die off. Finally you stand alone and there is nothing you can say or do to prevent it.

One of my friends said to me the other day:

“The past seems horrible to me, the present is gray and desolate, and the future is appalling.”

I thank my lucky stars I don’t share that bleak viewpoint.

 

I don’t concern myself with the future. My past, whether good or bad, I made the most of it. I live in the present.

 

I have lost the illusions of youth, but I still have enthusiasm for writing because of my curiosity about anything and everything. I hope it never leaves me.

 

One of the best things about growing old is the ability not to take things too seriously. I still have a belly laugh once in a while.

 

Those who are truly living corpses, are the middle-aged people who are stuck in their ruts and imagine the status quo will last forever.

 

I’m in favor of offering us a painless way out when our quality of life is nil. We didn’t ask to be born, so why should we be denied the privilege of making our exit when things become unbearable?

 

I see my life more of a comedy than a tragedy. The man that takes life too seriously is in big trouble.

 

In conclusion, with the world in such a mess, I try to accept my fellow man for what he is, good, bad, or indifferent.

 

I did my best, but it is never good enough!

 

 

Outlook On Time In Later Years

Time keeps moving forward constantly. Time tends to carry us along no matter what. A friend said to me the other day:

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could STOP time or at least SLOW it down.”

I replied: “I’m sorry, but we can’t stop or slow time down. Look at that clock on the wall, notice the second hand move through one minute, that pace continues and does NOT STOP!”

My friend is 60 years old, he couldn’t believe that age was here already, and before he knows it, 60 will become 70!

***

Our days go by swiftly, they come and go, never again to see even one of those past days again.

***

My friend spoke again:

“I wish time would let somethings REMAIN!”

I thought: NOTHING REMAINS!

***

To me, later years are a time of losses. We lose our contemporaries, we lose our physical appearance, we lose our health, we lose our time, and our enthusiasm wanes. So, we live in resignation, accepting our age, with reluctance, and what we no longer have.

***

But there is light in the tunnel, we realize at least we are still ALIVE! Having good humour is the answer. I laugh to myself when I look at the liver spots on the backs of my hands. We create euphemisms, older instead of old, senior citizen is the one I use.

I feel young in my head, but then I look into the mirror. Who is that!

***

The thing that keeps me going is my writing, in which I enjoy researching different subjects for my blog and novels. This tends to overcome the restrictions imposed on my body by old age. The sage, Seneca, called old age an incurable disease. Come on, let’s get a cure! Ha, ha.

***

Is there a bright side to all of this?

Well, I love to reminisce about when I was a young man. I know I’m taking refuge in the past but it is good escapism. There is research that old people who reminisce a lot tend to live longer than those who don’t.

***

But, I try to live in the present as much as possible. It has been said, that hope for the future affects a person’s quality of life in the present. Older people tend to lose hope and that diminishes their present. But most senior citizens can readjust and make their existence worthwhile by resigning themselves to what is lost and making the most of what remains.

***

So, the overall picture is NOT as bleak as it seems. A lot of older people retain enough hope to consider life worthwhile well into their eighties. If you’ve got fairly good health and are financially secure, and have a passionate interest, you can look forward to quite a few good years

***

Old age happiness can be achieved with a combination of resignation and a commitment to living in the present and a perception that life is still good.

I will end with a joke that is true:

The only thing worse than growing old is BEING OLD!