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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Find true meaning in a material world

Apr 03, 2023 03:49PM ● By Rich Strack

I’m no different than anyone else who has had the privilege of living into his or her senior years. I have lived through heavenly joy and heartbreak hell. For one thing, I’ve cried enough tears of happiness and sadness to fill a small swimming pool.

The end of the world was supposed to happen three times during my life. The first time was when President Kennedy was shot down. I remember how scared I was when I left school that afternoon and saw teachers, grown men and women weeping openly in the parking lot.

The second time was when America was attacked on 9/11. I took a walk that evening and when a young girl walking her dog stopped me and asked, “Mister, is the world going to end?” I told her with absolutely no conviction, “No, everything will be fine.”

The third time was when a friend said the COVID-19 pandemic was predicted in the Bible and we are at the end of days. I thought, well, maybe he’s right. 

But life went on, at least for those of you reading this column. 

I have no fear of my own death, but it’s funny how priorities change when you get to your golden years. Money has become of less importance. Time has no price tag. Love is not a limited-time offer. 

At my age, I don’t get invited to weddings anymore, well, because people my age aren’t getting married anymore. Weddings have been replaced by funerals. Within a span of just a few years, I’ve lost several very good friends and that word, “lost” also describes how I often feel when I’m living my life without them.

I find now that mindfulness of moments with friends and family matters much more than the size of bank accounts. I used to think the more money I had the happier I would be.

Recently, I read these words from a billionaire dying from pancreatic cancer: “In other eyes, my life is the essence of success, but aside from work, I have a little joy, and in the end, wealth is just a fact of life to which I am accustomed. At this moment, lying on the bed, sick and remembering all my life, I realize that all my recognition and wealth that I have is meaningless in the face of imminent death. You can hire someone to drive a car for you, make money for you—but you cannot rent someone to carry the disease for you. One can find material things, but there is one thing that cannot be found when it is lost and that is life.”

The designer watch you pay so much money for tells the same time as the one you can buy at a supermarket. The exotic car you bought drives the same roads as a lemon. In the end, the things you accumulate don’t matter. 

The dying teach us about living. They speak their regrets and disappointments for us to take notice. Death is the great equalizer. In his poem, “Thanatopsis,” William Cullen Bryant wrote about the earth being the grand house of humanity after we depart this world. 

“Thou shalt lie down/with patriarchs of the infant world—with kings,/The powerful of the earth—the wise, the good,/ Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past,/ All in one mighty sepulchre.”

Now, when I get tired and upset about circumstances that worry me, I turn to these poignant words from life coach Angel Chernoff. 

“Happiness is letting go of what you assume your life is supposed to be right now and sincerely appreciating it for everything it is.”

You can’t always get what you want

...but you get what you need. And maybe that's all that really matters. Read More » 


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