Today I am celebrating my 86th birthday.
As the old saying goes, the first day of the rest of my life. It’s a day of opportunity, just as tomorrow will be and every day of the rest of my life.
I am the accumulation of 86 years of life experiences and some achievements. The only value of those is to prepare me for the achievements and experiences of today and tomorrow.
Some of us are “red moss” folks; People who may have achieved some things in life but whose experience in one year or five years is repeated over and over again.
What I mean by “red moss” folks is this:
When I was in my mid-30s, I flew into New York for meetings at the corporate office of the company for which I worked. The airport at that time was La Guardia. On the cab ride to and from Manhattan, we passed old cemeteries with huge monuments to folks long dead. The monuments were covered with red moss. You couldn’t tell whose life they were honoring. It struck me that is the fate all of us face – anonymity in death. And that our only opportunity for having our works live on is through others whose lives we have changed – and their children and children’s children.
Some of us accumulate “red moss” while we are still alive. I prefer to live differently. Each new day is a day of opportunity – a chance to change lives in positive ways. The personal rewards are terrific and the amazing thing is that the real rewards will probably come after I am long gone.
I have been writing the Plan to Live column for almost 30 years. My teachy-preachy messages to seniors, including old fogies like me, are to share your life experiences with others and continue to experience life to the fullest. Love and be loved. Help others. Find joy in doing those thing with the knowledge you are also in a small way changing the course of history.
That may sound more than a little egotistical, but it is true. There are ultimate rewards as well. If you are a person of faith, you are expected to do good works and are rewarded for the good you do. The many, many folks I know who volunteer are the real community. They go where they are needed without pay and frequently without recognition, but not without the rewards of personal satisfaction. No red moss growing on them. I have referred to them as a part of the community’s safety net.
I am sure that there are folks who will not agree with me. To them, I can only say that for me it is important to live every day for the opportunities to change lives for the better. Rewards are personal and immediate.
Others may find red moss warm and comforting. Maybe they are right with the idea that they have earned the right to live out their lives for their own pleasure. Certainly, many have worked hard and have made many sacrifices. That just isn’t for me.
This is just my opinion and not intended to be a criticism of anyone.
Murray Bass can be reached at 427-0744 or firstname.lastname@example.org.