Early Morning Thoughts, May 2, 2019
Every once in a while I rediscover my own individual human frailty and vulnerability, and recognize what a wonderful thing it is to be offered a chance at life. In old Disney parlance, life has shown me that it is an ‘E’ ticket ride.
When on trial for his life, Socrates, according to Plato, allegedly uttered these famous words “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Today I suspect most of us are simply far too involved in our own daily lives to actually sit down and examine our past and present lives. And, if we are honest, and actually do sit down and examine our lives, we are forced to re-learn that our lives have been invariably a mixture of both good and bad events. But who among us wants to dwell on the bad things. Not me. How about you?
So, having noted all that, the point has to be made that if we live long enough, the bad things that have happened in our own past become but a memory we work around and become philosophical about, and they don’t interfere with our current lives. Of course, we never see that end result of closure happening until it has already happened. Surprise! You are now a mature human adult. Wow.
So, what got me into this reflective mood this morning? Probably two things. The first was watching an old Shirley Bassey performance video of her version of the song ‘Yesterday, when I was Young.’ Aside from her strong contralto voice, her version of the song is a classic to the 1970s time period. Bassey’s version of the song was originally released on her 1970 LP titled, ‘Shirley Bassey – Something.’ The song itself was a hit for both Bassey and for Charles Aznavour, the song’s writer, which should tell us how good the song really is.
Aside from the tune itself, what is there about the song that is so profound and thought provoking? It’s
the words. If you listen to the words, and if you are like me, I suspect you will get thrown into an unusual and perhaps unexpected emotional state – one that you were not looking for, or anticipating. Here is a sample of a few lines from the song:
Yesterday when I was young
The taste of life was sweet as rain upon my tongue
I teased at life as if it were a foolish game
The way the evening breeze may tease the candle flame
A thousand dreams I dreamed
The splendid things I planned
Perhaps now that leads us into the question of what happened to the dreams we had when we were young? Did they happen, were they fulfilled, or did life throw us a twist or two? Are we happy now? What did we learn about our goals and about life along our pathway through life? Are we still learning, or did we stop learning? When did we grow up?
Oh. my… What have I started? In review of my own life, my happiest moments were when I found myself helping others. That was unexpected. Those times I chose to act like a jerk, I’m not happy remembering. That also was unexpected. Why is that? I really don’t know whether it is because I am a human, because I was raised as a Christian, or maybe because of my own life observations and experiences. But all of that does perhaps lead us to ask the basic question about whether it is better to be a giver in life, or a taker. My vote, after not much thought at all, is for the givers in life. We all have challenges, and if we can help others, so much the better for all of us.
But that kind of thinking process now gets us into personal ideologies, often based on religious background and training. Believe it or not, there is actually one major religion that teaches its followers to take advantage of others as a main philosophy in life. I have trouble dealing with that mentality, and if you have been a victim of that kind of personality, I suspect you also would have a similar trouble.
In fact, I don’t want to appear to be dissing our youth either. Our young people are our future, and to me they are precious. If we can help our young avoid some of the mistakes we made, then so much the better for them. But in order to do that we have to be at our own best. We can never slack off as adults and as parents, no matter the reason. We have to stand tall if our children are to stand tall.
And that leads me into the second reason for my getting into a reflective mood. I reviewed another YouTube video, and this one was a simple story about an apparent beggar which I will link below. If there are lessons to be learned from this second video, I’ll let you draw your own lessons. For me, the story was a reminder that yes, we always have to do our own personal best, and yes, the better way in life is helping others be successful in their own lives. Life is not always a zero sum game where there are mandatory winners and losers – life is a win-win event.
BTW, there are many videos and stories like this one that tell a similar tale, and I suspect this may be a Christian’s way of helping define and identify the true Christians. I don’t like to get preachy, but when I see basically good people under attack from the sociopaths in life, my first impulse is to help the good individual. Is that your first impulse?
Life is good. Let’s treat it with respect, shall we.
Have a great day.