In Texas we have a catch phrase to describe someone who looks bedraggled. We say they look like they have been “rode hard and put away wet.” That same comment could be made about the elderly who look like they have seen better days – and THAT’S the kind of old folk I aspire to be.
In other words, I want to live life fully so that I use up any good looks or tidy appearances I might have had in my younger days. That seems like a more productive mindset than the one author Joseph Conrad expressed:
I remember my youth and the feeling that will never come back again any more – the feeling that I could last forever, outlast the sea, the earth, and all men; the deceitful feeling that lures us on to joys, to perils, to love and vain effort – to death; the triumphant conviction of strength, the heat of life in the handful of dust, the glow in the heart that with every year grows dim, grows cold, grows small, and expires, too soon, too soon – before life itself.
I have no idea whether Conrad was speaking of his own personal beliefs or whether this was an excerpt from one of his books. Certainly his most famous work back in 1899 (In the Heart of Darkness) was, well, dark – and dour, so I’ve come to expect this attitude from him. While Conrad’s quote above may bear some grains of truth, I see no reason to give in to those dark realities.
It is ah-so-easy to let the world beat us down so we become that dim, cold, small person that Conrad describes. Growing old is difficult; aches and pains are real. But I remember the advice of a woman I knew some years back. She had gone through a horrendous divorce. It cost her dearly from both a financial and emotional standpoint. But she soldiered on. She said her mantra was each day to get up, suit up, and go about the world. It was the only way to find joy again.
Since I started this note with a Texas saying, I think it is appropriate to end in that same manner. In summary, I have always ascribed to my cousin Sharon McAmis’ philosophy as captured in this piece of western wisdom:
The goal of life is not to arrive
at the grave safely
but rather to skid in at full
throttle, coming to a screeching
“Holy !@#*, What a ride!”
— Jonnie Martin