When are we finally free of that period in our lives when we look back in order to look forward? I’m just about there, I think. Perhaps it’s because my next birthday is what they call a “milestone.” Or that everyone of us, at one time or another, goes through the Scrooge-like exercise of looking over our lives to see who we have really been so that we may muster up the will and willingness to live a “better life” or at least one that is truly our own.
The Taoist books, thin and succinct, make the argument to simplify our personality, to recognize that problems are mostly derived from our ego lurking around in the background, and to stop wanting things that we don’t need.
The other day, Bel Kaufman, the writer of the book “Up the Downstairs” turned 101. She was quoted as saying:
“I’ve lived a long time, a very long time, 101 years, and I’m still here. I’m done with the doubts and struggles and insecurities of youth. I’m finished with loss and guilt and regret. I’m very old, and nothing is expected of me. Now, provided good health continues, I can do what I want. I can write my memoirs. I can edit my works for future eBooks. I can even do nothing—what a luxury that is! I have new priorities and a new appreciation of time. I enjoy my family more than ever, and also a sunny day and a comfortable bed. I keep up my interest in books and theater and people, and when I’m tired, I rest. My former students write to me and visit me. I had many problems and disasters in my life; fortunately at my age, I don’t remember what they were. I’m glad I am 101.”
I also ran into this saying about change from William James, of all people:
To change one’s life:
Do it flamboyantly.