Saturday, September 6, 2008
Socrates said "An unexamined life is not worth living."
I'm sitting here watching Martin Scorcese's movie "Shine A Light" a film about The Rolling Stones. It reminds me of a lyric from one of their songs:
"Take me down, little Susie, take me down
I know you think you're the queen of the underground
And you can send me dead flowers every morning
Send me dead flowers by the mail
Send me dead flowers to my wedding
And I won't forget to put roses on your grave"
I'm a glass half empty kind-of-guy. Always have been. I know that about myself and I clash on a regular basis with my eternally optimistic better half. She can find the bright side (or tries to, anyway, to my utter irritation) of almost any situation. Thank gooodness for Yin and Yang in the universe. Balance. Harmony. We are complete opposites, so I guess that old cliche is true.
Still, I can't but help but feel a growing dissatisfication with my current situation. Perhaps it's the economy, the increasing pressures at work or the looming mid-century milestone just ahead. I don't know the cause but I spend considerable time thinking about my lot in life and how I might improve it. Not only that, however, but what will I leave behind when I am gone? What sort of legacy will I leave, for my short time here on earth? What is the true measure of a man?
What is Success?
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by
a healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived;
This is to have succeeded.
This last quote is often attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson and is one of my favorites. I keep it posted on my desk as a reminder, a goal.
So, I sit and ponder what I can do to gain personal satisfaction while being a better person, doing more for others. Jerry pounds nails for Habitat for Humanity but doesn't talk much about it. He just does it in his spare time. Selfless and a good example.
The seasons are in the process of changing. Leaves are beginning to turn, fall, the flowers are starting to die off, the tomatoes fewer, greener, smaller. Is that what's happening to me? I feel the changes of age coming over me, see them on the faces of my family and friends. A new wrinkle here, a gray hair there. How much time is left for any of us? What can I do beside ride my motorcycle in the rain? I find that my interests have changed, along with my habits, and I wonder if the cause is mental or chemical.
I used to have more energy, a greater interest in reading and was a continuous scribbler. I recently took note of the fact that I have stopped drawing almost altogether. I couldn't attend a meeting in the past without filling the margins with doodles. Am I more focused now or less creative? I fear the latter, if that's the case.
So, I'm quietly embarking on a quest to find more meaning in my life and my work. It may involve a career change or some added activites. I figure I have only twenty years or so to do something worthwhile and satisfying. And maybe less. You never know. Oh yeah, there's that pessimism again...
If you have any ideas, let me know by leaving a comment (below). Oh Crap! IF THIS IS WHAT A MID-LIFE CRISIS FEELS LIKE, someone talk me off the ledge. Otherwise, I'll talk to you soon.
A low, slow wave,