Today: As I Grow Old I’ve Learned:
1) The outcome of sports events don't matter. Few people remember them for long, forgotten among the hustle-bustle of life.
2) Family does matter. They will be there for you even if no-one else is, for they care the most.
3) Friends matter. Not those who claim you can count on them but those who regularly show up over an extended period of time.
4) A child in need matters, wherever in the world that child is. Our role as adults is to protect children and to ensure there is food, love and medical care and to offer hope. If we fail a child, we have failed our spiritual selves.
5) Mankind matters regardless of religious affiliation. We are all brethren and in the end, religious beliefs all have the same fundamental concerns and will lead us to the same place. We don't realize it because of some self-righteous religious leaders and our own egos dividing us.
6) Arguments don't matter. Seldom is anyone persuaded by anyone else's argument and they serve to hurt our feelings and to divide us. The wise person sets arguments aside and strives to understand the other person's perspective.
7) Gentle hugs, kisses and sincere words of encouragement and caring could uplift the entire world, a world so desperately in need of love.
8) Forgiveness is as important as love. Carrying anger only destroys the wellbeing of the carrier and is the basis for revenge. Lack of forgiveness and understanding leads to ignorance and fear which leads to wars, such as those being fought today and those fought throughout history.
9) A kind word and a smile can uplift the life of anyone who receives it.
10) Don't wait until someone is dead to praise them. Do it now while they can appreciate it. They may not be here tomorrow and neither may you.
11) Most elections don't matter. They are often an illusion held to give the vast number of powerless the belief they actually have a voice. What does matter is when people unite in a common cause, for that scares those in power and often compels them to change and become responsive, at least for a period of time.
12) Peaceful demonstrations driven by compassion, love and respect are the most powerful of all. Gandhi was right.
13) Others don't take you nearly as seriously as you take yourself and few will recall most of what you said.
14) The words and actions of most historic figures join the results of wars and other major events in being forgotten by most people. If you doubt that, ask them to tell you about Julius Caesar, Jesus Christ, Albert Einstein or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But ask them about their own lives and those of their families and they can recite it in depth, for this is what really matters to them.
15) Aside from the jobs they provide or eliminate, or essential products or services they provide or dividends they pay, the work of most corporations is meaningless, largely based on the egos of those who run them. That's why most corporations fade away with time.
16) Laugh and laugh often, including at your own mistakes. It will relieve stress and give you a more joyful life
17) Focus on the now. Live this moment. And appreciate what you have while you have it. Most people take for granted there will be tomorrows and the essential people in their lives will always be there. But those of us who have seen death take loved ones know better. Don't live for tomorrow assuming there will be one.
18) Don't take your health, your vision, your hearing or any other vital function for granted. These things are precious and in a heartbeat you could lose any of them.
19) Don't treat celebrities as role models. Their lives and actions as you see them are largely the creation of public relations firms meant to sell images of them and other products they endorse. You are the role model for everyone you come in contact with starting with your children. Live your life accordingly.
20) Be the living embodiment of how you believe God would treat others. You will never live up to that embodiment but as you strive to achieve that remarkable task each day think of how you will inspire the world, one person at a time. In the words of Mother Teresa, "Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile."
21) Every person is your equal. Don't let poverty or lack of education fool you. They just may have not received the advantages you have had in this life.
22) Animals are beings too. Treat them with love and respect. I wish I had come to this realization sooner, for I didn't become a vegetarian until I was 56 years old. And if you can no longer give a pet a good and loving home, find another good and loving home for that pet. Don't abandon a being that loves and needs you and may not survive without you.
23) If you believe a cause is true, take action to support it, even if it is unpopular or you are the only one who believes in it. As Gandhi said, "Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth."*
24) Each day, take 10 minutes to lie down and close your eyes and relax. It is a marvelous stress reliever for your body and it is your body that houses your soul.
25) Feed your soul every day. Do something kind for another, read or listen to inspiring words, listen to music that uplifts you, feel joy in the wonders around you such as the blue sky and the warmth of the sun and literally smell the roses.
26) Whatever you do in life, be sure to have someone to share it with. One really is the loneliest number.
27) Each of us is on this earth for but a brief time and whether we fight over money, over land, over control of others or whatever else our egos dictate, in the end, it all gets left behind, other than the Karma each soul will bear.
28) The greatest gift you can give yourself is the one you give to another.
29) Be there for those in your presence. Turn off your computer, cell phone or other distractions and listen to them, with your undivided attention. It will make a profound and wonderful difference in your relationships with others and as a result, a profound and wonderful difference in your own self-esteem.
These are some of the truths I've learned in my 66 years of life and I hope they will serve you well, dear reader.
*This quote may be approximate but it is one I've kept in my heart in conducting numerous peace vigils over the U.S.'s Iraq and Afghan Wars, when sometimes there was no-one else but me visible during the vigils. I have stood along busy Pacific Coast Highway in the Los Angeles area, firmly believing those wars are a tragic mistake and appealing to peoples' consciences to help stop them.
In the next KazanToday:
A helping hand from Mark Twain played a crucial role in making this man one of the most prominent black attorneys of his time.