Friday, January 2, 2009

My Way

Over the past several years, since I retired from working for someone else, I have had adequate time to consider personally the process of change that comes with aging. Don’t get me wrong. I do not feel or consider myself to be “old,” but the availability of time itself has provided the opportunity to become aware of certain changes. Also, as many do at this time of life, I have given thought to the events of my life, particularly those I now feel I might have handled in a different way.

Being a fan of the music of Frank Sinatra, I thought of one of the songs he recorded, My Way1. In that song he offers a review of life many of us could identify with. Some of the words follow.

And now the end is near;
And so I face the final curtain.
My friend, I’ll say it clear,
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain.

I’ve lived a life that’s full.
I’ve traveled each and every highway;
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

Of course, there are many ways to look at the words of the song. I do not think of it as bravado, but rather a reflection of a person seeking to believe he balanced his life and in the end comes out a victor and not a victim. I have to admit to realizing that I am where I am because of my choices through the years. I realize that I am one who has done it my way.

I used to think that if I liked where I am and felt good about myself, then whatever road it took to get me here was okay. I still believe that to some degree, but now I realize that being a bull in a china shop is probably not okay, even if you get out with only a few broken items. As I use this time of reflection to assess my journey, I have to admit there is sadness about some of the paths I have taken, and about some of the losses along the way. There are people no longer in my life that I used to care about a lot. Somewhere along the way we came to a juncture and they took the other path. I wonder, could I have done something differently at that point that would have done more to maintain our friendship even though we chose different paths? On the other hand there are those with whom the friendship has stood the test of many storms.

Ultimately, I believe, one who only does it his or her way will be a person alone. It is not necessarily difficult to be alone, but it is another thing to be lonely. I suspect that if you are alone long enough you will become lonely. If you get to the stage of loneliness, it is much more difficult to reintegrate socially. It is easier to find reasons why being alone is okay. Though I spend most of my time comfortably ensconced in my “nest,” I did not really feel lonely or lose my desire to communicate with others and to write. Of course, I didn’t have to go outside for that!

What I find appealing about writing is that I still feel a sense of discovery as new ways of thinking about things emerge from my consciousness and end up on the page before me. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun, as the saying goes, but personal discovery of an idea or concept or of a new way of looking at life stimulates my being and creative juices begin to flow again. Then I realize how wonderful it is to be alive! How satisfying it is to feel the very spirit of life, love and wisdom filling my day with a sense of productivity.

As I look back upon my life from the vantage point of my current years, I realize that part of living life my way has included honoring the values that I have discovered are important in making me the person that I am. In the final analysis, perhaps it is not so bad that I chose somewhere along the line of my life travels to do it my way. Again,

Regrets, I’ve had a few;
But then again, too few to mention.
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption.

(This is an excerpt from the complete article written for my planned upcoming book with the working title: Moments.)

1 (P. Anka, J. Revaux, G. Thibault, C. Frankois) [Recorded December 30, 1968, Hollywood]


The Logistician said...

The greatest benefit associated with aging is gaining perspective. It seems to me that all of us should try to pursue whatever purpose we believe that we haved been placed on the planet to achieve. I actually did not determine that purpose until I was in my 50s. Once I determined it, peace followed. We should all ultimately find peace while there is still time to act on the notion.

Dan Perin said...

The thought of "acting while there is still time" is probably more imminent than most realize! If only aging, in and of itself, could provide perspective, how much easier would be the discovery of the most productive ways to invest our energies. Still, even without paying attention to life's process, there is a certain amount of change that comes about simply because we are still breathing! I appreciate your thoughts and that you take time to share them.
Keep on keeping on!