Have you ever noticed that there are people who simply have a talent for life? They are the ones who gather other people, plan the parties, go to the cool places, see the latest movies and read the latest books, and always seem to have a smile on their faces. The ones who come up with great ideas for fun. The ones we wish we could be. We all know them. They are people for whom the glass is more than half full, and the sun is always shining whether it is or not.
Children have that capacity. Watch the creativity of small children playing alone. They can build a sand castle on the beach and it with all manner of imaginary creatures, only to laugh when the waves roll in and knock it down.
When did we lose that capacity? When did the struggles of education, the worries of love affairs. and the trials of a working life take over? We should be able to see that life, while not the same for everyone, is there to be enjoyed.
I remember asking my mother on her 70th birthday if she felt any older. She answered that she still saw things the same way as always, but having lived a couple of decades longer myself, I don’t believe that our perceptions remain the same as they were in our youth. We need to have grown with the years, to understand things we overlooked at an earlier age. Probably most of all, we need to have learned to understand the world around us. Or at least make a stab at it.
I have noticed that I no longer find joy or amusement in many things which caused a giggle in the past. Am I growing old? Possibly, but I do use more of my common sense when striking out into unknown territory. I can’t be critical about teenagers putting themselves at risk in an effort to have fun, because I did it too.
Is that what growing older does? Let you remember the odd and perhaps dangerous things you got into and out of in your youth? It’s fun to laugh about it with others of your own vintage, because they did it too.
Another thing I have noticed lately with some people in their later years; the need to have photos of parents and long passed relatives. The years of their lives have gone by without the visual reminder of their forebears, but suddenly it seems important to relive the years of their youth by recalling family time before their hair became grey. Perhaps it relates to the sudden interest in the church some people get as the days grow shorter.
I do find I am reading the obituary pages more often these days since I occasionally see a familiar name. They are always written in such glowing terms of the departed, that I hope they had imparted those good thoughts to them while they were still here. A friend who used to do the obit pages in a local newspaper said some of them cost as much as $600. That’s pretty good pay for a few last words.
All of which puts me in mind of a late friend in the mortuary business. He came from Ireland in the early part of the 1900s, with no money and no noticeable talent. While sitting on a bench in Boston eating a cantaloupe, he was approached by a group of local hoodlums who let him know in no uncertain terms that the Irish were not welcomed there. A few years later they couldn’t keep them out. Anyway, he hopped on a train, played his accordion across country and ended up in California, still without a job or prospects. Seeing an ambulance going by, he thought he could get a job driving one. When he saw the destination was a mortuary, he got a job there, and eventually owned it.
Eventually he found some notoriety when the Oakland A’s baseball field was named for him, since it was built on land he owned. Some might say that’s a talent for living.