Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hope Is The New Forty

It's disturbing to think about it this way, but death is a way of achieving immortality. Existence on the physical plain is short compared to that on the ethereal plain. It's not just a sad notion, it's an exploited one. Most religions are built on a foundation of this belief, it's their way of controlling minds by playing into the fears of aging and death: follow our ways and and you'll exist forever. But it's sad, using this as a guiding belief simply misses the point. The whole purpose of life is challenge and the rewards you reap when they're faced. Death is just comfort; it's not the reward that comes at the end of life, it's the consolation.

Unfortunately, life compresses a wealth of pressures into its short span and comes prepackaged with a set of goals. This is why the fear of aging is so pronounced. It wouldn't be an issue if so many people didn't see time passage as an obstacle. Take this job I had the other day. The new year is only a few days old, and this guy, we'll call him Stan, acted like his life was over as soon as that ball in Times Square landed. After I got to know him and asked why, he said, "I'm gonna be forty this year."

"When?" I asked.


"Hey, forty's no big deal! And if it were, you still have a few months."

"Yeah," he said, "but whenever the new year starts, I already feel the age that I'm gonna turn that year."

"Oh. Well, I know, it's like, you reach a certain age and you're disappointed you haven't accomplished what you wanted to."

"Well, kind of. It's more like, well you know, all those statistics they have, that say if you haven't gotten those things by a certain age, you never will."

That kind of threw me a little. As bitter as I was about my life, I never had to deal with that. Forty was about a decade away when I died. When Shannon left, I was focused on life without her, not the possibility of life without anyone.

"They can play with statistics all they want," I said. "But your fate isn't based on some kind of sabermetrics book, life isn't a formula. You want to life life by odds, fine. But you know, odds don't control you, you do. Don't let some statistic tell you what you can or can't have. If you just gave in to that, then what's the point of life anyway?"

"Good point," he said.

So, I didn't solve his problem; the guy's still gonna turn forty. But I could tell I gave him hope. And we're not problem solvers, we're angels.

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