Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Layer 5 A Greater Sense of Purpose

My mobile phone is so old its dictionary doesn’t even recognise the word blog, which unsurprisingly isn’t in my 1989 Collins dictionary either. The Collins goes from Bloemfontein to Blois - which is some journey - but not via Blog. I remember buying this particular dictionary for my office in the days before proper personal computers, in the days before Windows 3.1, when mobile phones were still the size of bricks. How many new words have been magic’d into existence since then, I wonder?

Speaking of age - according to a programme I was watching about centenarians they all have a few key things in common, apart from eating properly, looking after their bodies and keeping fit.
I’d like my children and grand children to live to 100, and I’d like to help them towards that, in any way I can. I’d like to write stuff that will be of some use to them - stuff they can think about, and maybe learn from some of my mistakes, of which there are plenty. Regrets? I’ve had a few. Too many not to mention.

Crucially centenarians seem to be blessed with stress-resistant personalities. Think about what that means. (I once read a book called Stress For Success.(!) ) If we care about our health and well-being, and want to live long and well, and be around for our kids and grand kids, we need to minimise the time we spend living with stress. Too late for me, I guess. Though in some ways it’s never too late. As I tend to say to my good friend K, I don’t need any more brainache.

Centenarians are also people who have all lived their lives, and continue to live lives, with a sense of meaning and purpose. Think about what that means as well. Take plenty of time to think about that. Let’s just meditate on that, long and hard.

I think that all of my friends, and my family, live their lives with a sense of meaning and purpose. I think my mum lost it for a while, but has now got it back again. Thanks to getting off the sedatives her doctor was prescribing for her, in ever-increasing quantities.

I think about all the poor old (and not so old) souls living lives of (or ‘hanging on in’) ‘quiet desperation’ (as Pink Floyd once said in a classic song) - up and down and around this country.
Apparently the island of Okinawa is well known for being full of centenarians - hundreds of them. The place is crawling with them. They’re like those land crabs that drivers have to swerve around on various Pacific islands, because they take so long to cross a road. Only joking! English sense of humour, as my friend Yoko would say.

I’ve never been to Okinawa, and this year I must get back to Japan, and back to visiting Zen temples, and back to studying Zen. I had some thoughts about going there in the Spring, for the cherry blossom spectacular, but I guess now it might have to be in the autumn (if that’s OK with my friend Yoko, my lovely and generous and caring and super-intelligent professor friend) for the autumn Acer spectacular.

Except that I’ve also been thinking that autumn in Bear River, Nova Scotia, at my friend Alan’s place, would be very fine this year. He’s been saying for ages that I must go there and use his lovely big and usually empty house for some concentrated writing. Either there or his place in Provence. Alan’s another brilliant elder, an outstanding individual, with an amazing sense of purpose and meaning in his life.

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