Eightball and Thundercloud's RANT

Our Little Rant by Eightball & Thundercloud
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The Seasons of Life

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven..."

I find myself alone on a snowy trail in my most favorite of hiking spots. It is winter; the sun seldom shines in Ohio this time of year. Others become melancholy and blue in January's incessant cloudiness, but I revel in it. The dark overcast days bring a special sorrow with them to be sure; but it is a reflective sadness. One that inspires introspection and a still inner-peace that causes me to ponder the nature of things and the wonder of life.

The bonds of long shadows and dark gray skies will soon be broken by spring's renaissance; when the world is reborn in the resplendent bright vernal light of the comparatively immortal star we call "the sun". So, I will relish the dark gloomy days of winter and remember that this winter has but a short engagement upon the stage of my life.

And it occurs to me, as I walk beneath the endless gray canopy of sky, how very special and unique each life is. As I pass the leafless, snow-covered branches and occasional sad bushes with bright, red berries courageously and tenuously clinging to them in spite of the bitter, harsh winter wind, I realize that life too, has its seasons.

The springtime of our lives is replete with wonder. It is the wonder of a child exploring a brave new world; one that has been thrust upon him or her for reasons none of us understand or can explain. Exploring with all the senses, the world overwhelms a child, for every single thing is new. From the scent of a rose to the sight of the nitrogen-blue sky; the senses of a child are absorbing all even if they are happily unaware of it. It is the time that we become who we will become and all we see and all we do becomes part of the person we will always be. It is the time when we, like that first flower of spring, raise our heads and discover ourselves and our new world for the very first time.

The summer of our lives is the time when we explore our world and learn the intricacies of it. Breaking free of the bonds of our own backyard and the shelter and safety of our homes, we become explorers of the world. The more we explore the more we know. During the summer of our lives we are formally educated, decide on a career, fall in love, marry, and raise our children. Some say it is the "prime" of our lives. If we are lucky, by the summer of our lives we learn what "responsibility" means. It is the time, also, when many of us become mired in the mundane duties and everyday challenges of daily living. Many of us cease our exploration; for the endless wonders of the world have become buried in obligations, work, and a never-ending stack of unpaid bills. We simply don't make or take the time to continue our exploration as the autumn of our lives swiftly approaches. Fortunately, as we shall see, by the grace and the infinite wisdom of the Divine, we have one more season left to reach for the stars. One more season that will provide us the time to grab our sextants and our dreams again and go forth to explore ourselves and the world anew. Indeed for some, the best is yet to come.

The autumn of our lives is a strange and haunting time. It can be a time of sorrow and a time of joy. It is the time when we realize that the number of days which we have left upon this Earth are growing shorter and our purpose is less clearly defined. Our children have grown and found their own lives; and we often discover that we have spent so much time acquiring the things we have, and working and raising our children, that we have lost ourselves. But, the autumn of our lives can be a time of rediscovery if only we choose to make it so. And sadly, it can also be a time when some discover their usefulness diminished and their choices narrowed; limited by their own self-imposed restrictions and refusal to see the many paths which still remain open to them. It is true then, that the only limits anyone has are the limits they impose on themselves. If we've learned anything by this time of our lives, we've leaned that we cannot live our lives based on what others might think. If we do then we lose ourselves and become servants of the whims and fancies of others. Do not let anyone ever tell you that you cannot do something you want to do because you're "too old".

The autumn of our lives can be every bit as exciting as the spring and summer were, but only if we are not dragging the heavy chain of limitations around with us. Free from the unbridled passions of youth we are more free now than ever before to seek the ultimate potential inside ourselves. For, at any stage of life, the only places we cannot go are those places we will not go. The only restriction that age places on us, beyond the obvious physical ones, are those which we allow. We control our own lives only if we choose to do so. And we can only choose to do so if we truly believe we can.

It is the spring and autumn of our lives that are the most important, for these are the seasons of life that determine first, what we are to become, and second, what we shall do with the person we have become. You can choose to wither and fade. You can throw your arms up in exasperation and sigh that the years have passed you by; or you can embrace the autumn of your life as a renaissance; a time to remake yourself; a kind of self-metamorphosis. You can celebrate your choices and let your mind sail free. An entirely new voyage awaits you and you are at the helm.

By this time you've acquired something called wisdom. Wisdom is not taught in any school. It is taught through the tough lessons of life where the tests are given first and the material covered later. You have learned a great deal from these tough and often painful lessons by the time you reach the autumn of your life. Now you must choose to move on and acquire more wisdom; or surrender to the passing of the years and simply fade away. The choice is clear: You must never give up.

A great many people accomplish great things during the autumn of their lives. Indeed, some never realize their full potential until they reach this stage of their lives. Laura Ingalls Wilder, Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, William Shakespeare, Nicolas Tesla, James A. Michener, Leonardo Da Vinci and many others have achieved great things in the autumn of their lives. Henry Ford didn't start the Ford Motor Company until he was almost 50 years old. You can say to yourself "I cannot do it because I'm too old" but that is just comfortable and worn excuse. While it may be true that physically you cannot run a five minute mile at age sixty, you can write a great novel, develop a brilliant new invention, be of service to your community, develop new skills, or become a world-famous photographer; for your choices and options are bounded only by your desire and the limits you set. You can use the autumn of your life as a time of rediscovery; a time to explore your passion for life and to unleash your hidden creativity.  Let your life be a candle in the darkness for those who cannot find their way in the dark. Blaze a new path to achieve great things, learn new skills and cut a new well-lighted path for others to follow. By your example then, others will see that age is no barrier; greatness can be achieved at any age.

The winter of our lives should be the shortest season of all. It should be that narrow stretch of road we reach only in our final years. It is a time when we should take pride in our accomplishments and enjoy the privileges that we have earned. If we have lived a good life then we will have the great reward of being loved by others and the honor of knowing we have done our very best. We will gracefully accept that we have come to the end of one great journey and rest upon the footpath of another. We can sleep knowing that we never did grow old.

Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night
(Dylan Thomas)

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


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