Monday, August 28, 2006

edge

I’m just beginning to realize that I’m getting old. In 10 days I’ll be 43. That isn’t really all that old to many people I know. Some would tell you that it’s middle age. If it’s middle age, then that would mean I would live to be 86. I don’t think that I want to live to be 86. I know that I don’t want to be in the life phase where every nightly trip to bed is an adventure that I won’t be sure of waking up from. I’ve been in some venues lately where I’ve noticed how much older people struggle to keep up, mentally, physically, and sometimes even emotionally. I work hard to be current. I work hard to keep an edge. I work hard to be a part of the contemporary world that I live in, but I have to tell you that it gets harder every month to keep up, to look like I have a clue about what’s going on around me. The edges that were once sharp yearn to go back to dull. I watch those in their later years struggle with this. I don’t want to struggle.
Whether I want to or not, I may make it to 86. Rest assured that if I do, I won’t pout about it. I won’t grumble about it. I will take advantage of it. When I get old, I’m gonna do whatever the heck I want to do. I’ll have earned it. At least in my mind I’ll have earned it. That seems to be the way it is with a great many older people who I know personally. The rules don’t apply to them. By rules I mean, rules of law, rules of etiquette, rules of physics, you name it, they don’t apply anymore…..apparently anyway.
They drive how they want, act how they want, and just generally live their lives however it is that they want. A part of me admires this. The other part fears it. I’m afraid to grow old and to be like them. I don’t want to be in line at Burger King demanding my right to a Big Mac. I don’t want to be sending the fries back until they are my personally entitled version of crispy. I don’t want to order coffee with my value meal. None of these are okay in my humble opinion, yet that is common behavior for the masses of the aged. They feel entitled and maybe they are. Maybe this is their prize for living so long and contributing so much. I don’t want the prize thank you.
I’ve also noticed that, in general, the older one gets, the more he or she seeks the safety of the known. There are exceptions to be sure, but lately it seems that I’ve been inundated with people seeking the assumed safe path. These same people throughout their lives sought everything but the safe path. Theirs wasn’t foolish, but it was often times not safe. I see the same thing in me. It’s a struggle to stretch and experience new. I’m scheduled. Actually I’d probably enjoy a nursing care facility because they have schedules. But every so often, I do something that is totally unpredictable. It might even seem foolish to my more grounded friends. Each time is a freeing event though. My family and I have shared a great many adventures and the freedom of going boldly where God is leading regardless of safe. But I’m getting old and I’m getting fearful of new adventures. God whispers them to me occasionally as a kind of “what if?” scenario. They’re not all major. They’re not all life altering. They are potentially stretching. They demand attention. Recently I made a change in writing venues. I left the beach for a bit for a change of pace. It’s been a bit freeing. It gives me the courage to try it again somewhere down the road. Yesterday I wore a tie as I stood before my community of faith. It was different. It was freeing. And God, being faithful as He is, took advantage of that moment later in a day in the life of a wanderer, to place me in a room of “older” people who are struggling with the future. I could sense from some the undeniable signs of faith in a God who has always been. I could also sense some undeniable signs of worry about a God who may not be anymore, at least in a way that comforts them. What I mean is, they have lived long lives doing great things and participating in great works of God. They have seen provision and purpose and all that. Their heads acknowledge, but hearts begin to falter in later stages of life. They desire more security than I believe we are afforded or entitled to. I have to believe that it’s age. I fear it, the lack of confidence that overcomes faithful provision, the paralysis more debilitating than arthritis. I don’t want to live to that point in life. I want to get every bit of adventure in before I lose the edge.

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