When we are young we often take things for granted that we miss when we hit middle age. Keeping up physical resilience, for instance. A twenty-five year old will easily undergo all kinds of shocks, jumping down from a vehicle or rolling down a hill without blinking an eye. Later on, however, we begin to get what can be described as “physical regret” when we take the leaps that were once so easy.
A veteran parachutist once told me that as we grow older, the more we need to take care of our body in order to get something out of it. Youth has its natural strength; once this is spent, regular physical training, and good eating, are the only way to avoid decrepitude. Mind you, this was the same man who said that the morning you wake up and feel no pain, is the day you know you’ve died and gone to heaven!
If we have been lazy and have not done our due “fitness diligence,” a day will come when it will not merely be a matter feeling sore but of being less mobile. The same kind of phenomenon takes place both on the spiritual and emotional level.
Most of us have met someone who seems to operate more like a robot than a person, or who doesn’t seem to have any warm human reactions. There is also the kind of person who cannot relate to people who do not share the same ideas that he or she has. Sometimes we refuse to deal with spiritual or intellectual questions that are not in our comfort zone. Just like muscles that become stiff and weak when not used, our imagination and our spirit become limited when we do not give them exercise.
“You’re bored because you boring!” comes to mind when I hear folks moaning about their dull lives. I remember bumping into a fellow university student during the Christmas holiday of 1995. He was cheerful and, I guess, noticed that I seemed a little bit at a loss about what to do with my free time. “Why don’t you come and help me make a didgeridoo?” At first, I didn’t quite believe that he had said what he had said. Later that evening, I was helping him glue together the halves of a hollowed-out log! Whether this was a good way of making a didgeridoo, I cannot say; that my memories of that time still amuse me, is beyond question!
If I had not been open to my fellow student so many years ago, I doubt that I would be a radically different person. What would be different is my ability to see that there are all kinds of things that we can do to make life “worth” living. We all know that we have our own tastes, our own way of looking at the world. However, our perspective in life should include awareness of as much as possible. This way we can be confident that we have not taken anything for granted.