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2019 Good Morning Article

Carll Tucker

· Articles of Interest

Editor’s Comment: I received a ton of reaction to last month’s blog, “Identity Crisis”. The most interesting came from my friend, Carll Tucker, who publishes a daily blog titled, “Good Morning”. Below is full text of his recent blog, which is his reflection on my column. It will doubtless make you think some more about the topic of aging; it did for me.

9.18.19

Good morning.
A friend is sad. He notices he’s getting older, loved ones have died, things aren’t the same. He’s not the same: this sadness, in particular, is not “like him.” He deems his condition a crisis and elicits solace.
This sadness, I tell him, isn’t sickness; it’s waking up. Most of our lives we don’t notice loss or death, we’re too busy doing. It’s hard to do and see at the same time. In retirement, as your responsibilities lessen and pace slows, you may notice more. What you notice may differ from what you thought. Suddenly, it seems, you don’t know where you are – or who – or why.
Such indeterminacy can be scary. If you don’t know who you are, yikes, how do you know what to do or how to be! If you are not “yourself” – if you ever had a self! – maybe everything you believed before is likewise not really true. Your mind swings in a vertiginous void.
No one likes feeling lost. Show me the way home! Do I even have a home anymore?
The fun part of lostness comes later. For me, losing my way was finding my life. Retirement relieved me of most rules, unshackled me to meander where I would. I went, like St. Francis, where my feet took me or, in my case, my words. One thing led to another. I saw things which had always been true but somehow I’d never noticed. I saw, especially, how ambition blinders us to whatever might distract or divert us from our goal. Doubt retards, sometimes to a halt. Loss of conviction leads to loss of direction. Obedience, whether to a despot or a dream, frees you to run like the dickens. You don’t stop to think, you just keep running.
Vince Lombardi, the football coach, was a great American moralist. “Winning,” he said, “is not a sometime thing; it’s an all time thing. You don’t win once in a while, you don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” He also said: “Unless a man believes in himself and makes a total commitment to his career and puts everything he has into it – his mind, his body, his heart – what’s life worth to him?”
This is stirring advice, especially for young people on the near shore of their lives. What I’d add, as corollary, is that losing, too, is fine thing, if what you’re losing prevents your appreciation of all you already possess.
I ran through my life with a zeal which Coach Lombardi would have applauded. Eyes fixed on the prize, I didn’t notice much else. Pride, vanity, and insecurity all panted to seize that twinkling trophy.
Among the things I didn’t notice were death, loss, and flowers. Birds, too, and any ideas that would slow me down or trip me up.
Now, going nowhere, I can’t trip or be slowed. And look, there are flowers – and birds – and ways of seeing I’d have never guessed. And there is love, not as recreation, but as vocation, a reason to be. Not having to be somebody, an instrument of my desire, I can be anybody, and who is that? Innocuous (retired!), I can tell the truth because no one cares. And guess what: death and loss are beautiful too, for without them, where’s life’s zest? Who could enjoy a show that will never end?
Crisis is an ancient Greek word meaning a moment of decision. Humans are the only deciding animal and by deciding we define ourselves.
I wish my friend well.

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