Masters of Our Own Lives

Last evening when I came across Edgar Guest’s Poem below I started to wonder, “when is a man old?” Many say “you’re only as old as you think you are” or “as old as you act”. My vantage point has been one gets old when he or she ceases to ask questions, stops seeking the truth and does not embrace being alive to the best of their ability.

While more engaged with life than most fifty-nine year olds, the years do count up and my body shows wear. Aches are regular where none used to be. The constant ringing in my ears I don’t notice until I think about it (like now) and I don’t have the energy I once did. This 1953 model is in good shape but has a lot of miles on it.

On the flip side of perspective, I am smarter and more even-tempered than ever before. The vein of kindness in me is wider and stronger than ever. Good memories harmonize better all the time within as the bad ones grow fainter. Life all around me is not only adornment for my existence. I actually see and marvel at living now fully realizing one day this reality will not be mine. Though acceptance of the impermanence of things, of myself, comes a much deeper appreciation for all that currently “is”.

“When An Old Man Gets To Thinking” by Edgar A. Guest

When an old man gets to thinking of the years he’s traveled through,
He hears again the laughter of the little ones he knew.
He isn’t counting money, and he isn’t planning schemes;
He’s at home with friendly people in the shadow of his dreams.

When he’s lived through all life’s trials and his sun is in the west,
When he’s tasted all life’s pleasures and he knows which ones were best,
Then his mind is stored with riches, not of silver and of gold,
But of happy smiling faces and the joys he couldn’t hold.

Could we see what he is seeing as he’s dreaming in his chair,
We should find no scene of struggle in the distance over there.
As he counts his memory treasures, we should see some shady lane
Where’s he walking with his sweetheart, young, and arm in arm again.

We should meet with friendly people, simple, tender folk and kind,
That had once been glad to love him. In his dreaming we should find
All the many little beauties that enrich the lives of men
That the eyes of youth scarce notice and the poets seldom pen.

Age will tell you that the memory is the treasure-house of man.
Gold and fleeting fame may vanish, but life’s riches never can;
For the little home of laughter and the voice of every friend
And the joys of real contentment linger with us to the end.

I hope my destiny includes one day being an “old man” like Guest wrote about. I would be grateful to live to a more straight forward time; one of old age when calmly sitting and sweetly remembering takes up most of my time.

The things we think about, brood on, dwell on…
influence our life in a thousand ways.
When we can actually choose the direction
of our thoughts instead of just letting them
run along the grooves of conditioned thinking,
we become the masters of our own lives.
Eknath Easwaran