Over the years my philosophy on life has changed—I suspect that might be a consequence of getting older. Getting older often allows you to gain some much-needed perspective and provides context to your life. Once upon a time I thought I only wanted to live as many years as I could—that philosophy or mindset has changed. Now it’s about quality of life and not quantity of life. There is a difference.
I’ve reached the age (70 next month) where I’ve experienced the loss of family, friends and peers. A quick glance at my high school graduating class (1965) obituary page confirms that I am part of an ever-shrinking group. Death gives life poignancy and meaning; without death we wouldn’t really appreciate life. So I’ve come to believe it’s not just about the years lived but rather the quality of those years. Every year well-lived is a gift.
I’ve faced the probability of my mortality more than once and it’s a sobering experience. To face death head-on will cause you to think (or at least it should). I have no notion of dying anytime soon but I think I’m ready if the Grim Reaper should make an early and unscheduled visit. At this juncture legacy becomes important—I would like to be remembered fondly. In an effort to make that happen I think it’s important to undo some of the things I did wrong early on (before I knew better). It’s not always easy to explain your decisions to those you’ve hurt but it’s worth the effort.
With the years I have left I will try to live them as best I can: to live simple, to live cheap and to live free. I will try to do less harm as my Buddhist teachers suggest. I will try to be more open and candid with my feelings, sharing more of my authentic self with others and less of my contrived self. I will try to give more and take less. I will try to be grateful for every day of life granted knowing that it could all end in an instant. I will try to be less fearful and when afraid face those fears head-on. I will try to live in the moment instead of dwelling in the past or projecting into the future. In other words: I will try to live the best life I can with the years I have remaining. May it come to pass.