Life is well worth living

Letter to a friend: It seems that the more advanced in age I become, the more often waves of nostalgia come floating to the top.

I remember when we were not greatly inhabited by the fears and worries with which adults were plagued. I realize there were times when we had plenty of worries. When the war engulfed us and caused all of us an uncertain and a restless existence, our worries were of a different kind and often minuscule in comparison to the ones dealt with by adults.

On May 10, 1940, Hitler's army crossed our borders and marched into our nation "for our own protection," according the leader of that flagrant invasion.

Our fears, I remember, were that of not being liked by our peers, fears of school issues and the lack of how to deal with all that. Some of these would linger well into our adulthood. But there are other times as well, come to think of it. Happy, memorable times, and as so often is the case, those times remain with us more vividly.

I frequently recall our lighthearted and sun-filled interactions, our times of worry-free and spontaneous explorations of the unknown and life itself. Quite often we did not understand or realize that all this was an education outside the classroom and preparing us for the years of adulthood.

And now, fast forward. We have become adults. We gained families of our own. Our childlike fears and worries were pushed in the background, replaced by adult-size worries, and some of them are not easily disposed of. We now have children of our own and worry about their future, employment, choice of mate.

One may wonder at this stage, as I do, did my life during its time here on Earth make a difference? Most of us do not end up on the pages of history books due to the lack of great accomplishments or important discoveries. And that is fine with me. I don't need to be there, but did I make a positive impression on someone, be it a relative or an acquaintance, by what I stood for? Did I accomplish what I set out to do during my younger years, or did I just take on an attitude of indifference?

Should we just say, I did the best I knew how, and let it go at that? Maybe we should.

Our thoughts during the advancing years turn more often to our mortality. All of us are born with a serious and unalterable defect. We grow old — at least the lucky among us do — and then we die. The way of all flesh. We are left with the appalling inconveniences of aging and the unavoidable fact of death.

Someone proclaimed years ago that a long life, if one does everything possible to take care of oneself, is likely to result in a self-sufficient and rewarding existence. Others say such a remark is a half-truth that really amounts to a lie.

It is true that many doctors and scientists over-promise and hope to grow rich through one or another wonder pill. And many commercials say the solutions to aging problems are only a phone call away.

When a person has to deal with infirmity and health issues, growing old is not for the feeble. But getting old also has its rewards. Do we not, when we get older, acquire wisdom through experience? This may be true, but let's face it, if one is stupid when young or foolish in middle age, there is no good reason to think wisdom will arrive at age 65.

The philosopher Cicero, in his "On Aging," gives one an appetite for old age. Death, as Cicero knew, is an old joke that comes to each of us afresh; and he also knew that old age prepares us inadequately.

Cicero was wise enough to know that even wisdom itself is no protection against the forces of nature and evil intend by men. Should we fear old age? Do the positives outweigh the negatives? When ill health and poverty knock on your door, many do fear the advancement of age. Many may not be able to cope with those kinds of circumstances and give in to depression and thoughts of suicide.

Cicero, in many of his essays, such as "Hope," "Confidence," "Inspiration" and many others, felt that even though the road designed for you to travel may not be without pitfalls and calamity, life is worth living.

And my friend, I agree.

— Tony Antonides lives in Central Point.

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