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Discover So Much of Life Left to Be Enjoyed

Val is a life-long student of unexplored human potential and many challenges that self-honesty throws at us on that path.

still-so-much-of-life-left-to-be-enjoyed

People idealize or reminisce about their 20s, but nobody tells them beforehand that it's hard and unglamorous and often unpleasant.

-- Zosia Mamet

Those Depressing Life Inventories

How much is left to be enjoyed of life?

This question, or some other form of it, may be merely attached to a passing mood, or it may keep hanging in the air as a sensitive bell so easily disturbed by every facet of a monotonous, predictable life.

Especially so in those moments while we are brave enough to make an inventory of life so far, fishing through the memory albums for something that would be worth reviving. When we find it, it hardly serves as a consolation, but rather as a painful reminder about how much life can degrade over years.

To the rescue may come the notion how the "steadiness" of life at least provides a sense of security, as opposed to those crazy younger times of life when passion, ambitions, and strife were making of us something of a puppet on a string swinging in all directions.

These life inventories may not be an exclusive feature of a later age, but may also be a bothersome feature at any time of life, including the teens.

It's only that they fall a little heavier on us later on in life, often accompanied by that sigh for which we are not sure if it's a sigh of relief or one of nostalgic reminiscing about something better back there.

Friends are not much help. The older the friendship, the more their sameness just adds to our own; so that on certain evenings we may catch ourselves not answering that phone, as we don't really have the stomach to hear yet another story about "how her confrontation with her daughter-in-law played out", or "what the doctor said about that pain in her knee".

Somewhat worried, we may start asking ourselves, what the life has come to, if even friends are not a welcome detail of it as they used to be.

At that point we get tested for how proficient we have become at finding a quick fix for that kind of thinking, in order not to sink into a depression.

still-so-much-of-life-left-to-be-enjoyed

I've never seen an obese person who has said, "I am well in my mind". Happiness stops food being a compensation.

-- Pierre Dukan

Going Through the Motions of Living

Of course, by now we seem to have already become little veterans at this struggle with this maddening predictability of our life which has turned into one big routine.

A paperback novel may do, and there is always something on the TV. If our kids allow us, we can even meddle a bit in their "situation", offering our wisdom, while they are pretending to appreciate it.

That combination of kids, novels, TV, and long gossiping on the phone, allows us to escape from our own life into someone else's, where there is more going on. Even if not more, but at least it's another version of the boring, not our own.

Not to forget that good, old apothecary, our fridge, which always has a ready balsam for our boredom, worry, sadness, anger, or just about any other version of those crappy knee-jerk responses to life.

Digestion process, normally being a big user of the available energy. tends to steal it from those crappy emotions making them dull and more bearable -- so we "self-medicate" on those dessert leftovers, translating it into a joy of life.

Well, gone are those mornings when in front of our bathroom mirror we were tempted to send a victorious wink to that image. Now it boils down to sticking our tongue out just to check for its whiteness for a possible indication of body's fighting a microbial intruder.

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Encouraging ourselves for facing the new day with a smile in that mirror is completely out of question, as that smile would bring out the full map of wrinkles -- which would be anything but encouraging.

Maybe at no other times but in our mornings, the routine of life feels like such a blessing, sparing us from having to think with those groggy minds what's the next to be done.

Scaring the cat on the way from the mirror to the toilet may be a major event of the morning, but otherwise it's all just that good going-through-the-motions life.

still-so-much-of-life-left-to-be-enjoyed

When you can step out of your comfort zone and be uncomfortable, you see what you are made of and who you are.

-- Sue Bird

Decision to Disturb Our Comfort Zone

And yet, all that would have been so much more tolerable if that nagging question had not suddenly become so persistent: "What's left of life to be enjoyed, or it's as good as it gets?"

So in some daring moods strange ideas may pop up to be instantly felt as a threat to the well established comfort zone.

Like "finally" losing some of that extra weight; or changing hair style and color; or getting a dog; or cutting into savings and "finally" taking that long delayed trip; or even rearranging the furniture.

Boy, do we ever feel silly at the end of such thinking, because none of it is bound to happen anyway -- like it didn't happen after the last, and the one before new years' resolution.

Now, not playing a clairvoyant or something, but I am just guessing how some readers may be somewhat "alerted " to my changing the tune, as if smelling some of my smart-ass "therapeutic" crap to come next.

So, as if I can hear some of them say:

"Hey, you old dude, don't you dare rock this boat with any of your crap, or I'll stop reading! You have been doing just fine making me face my monotonous-while-comfortable life, so don't try to spoil it now!"

Okay, I say, go on and find yourself something entertaining on TV, because that's exactly what I am planning to do -- start with my wise-ass crap.

After all, you knew you got it coming, because I wouldn't spend the whole article just helping you to be more depressed, no matter how that depression may have even become a sort of a sweet addiction.

You know, there is something like it -- according to those brainiacs in science. They are saying something like -- the chemical equivalents of a prolonged negative emotions may fit nicely into the brain's receptors reserved for pleasure.

No wonder a comfort zone feels so good even when it doesn't.

So, like it or not, but here I come with a couple of tips which may even turn good, especially if you are basically willing to make some changes in that routine of living -- or at least experience that sameness in a new way so it doesn't look so much that way.

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A grateful person is rich in contentment. An ungrateful person suffers in the poverty of endless discontentment.

-- David A. Bednar

Empathizing with a Hypothetical Admirers

If someone gave you a toy car for your 50th birthday, you would be right to get insulted. But now, try to remember the face of the kid to whom you bought such a toy for his birthday.

What happened with your feelings about that little toy while you were empathizing with that kid's enthusiasm?

It was the same toy in question, but empathizing made such a difference about how you felt about it. You saw it with that kid's eyes. Maybe your face made that same expression of excitement and surprise that you saw on that kid's face.

Now, how could that possibly be of any help? You see, while you can't produce emotions of gratitude for what you've got and for who you are -- at least not in such a big dosage to make you all excited about it -- why not imagine someone who is much less fortunate and observing what you have and who you are.

Can you move around without a cane, a walker, or a wheelchair? What would be a view from a wheelchair at you moving around as you are able to do now? Could you empathize with a person sitting in it and admiring your ability to move swiftly around without any help?

Could you start seeing things in their relative value, and put a big price on whatever you've got at this time of your life -- from the perspective of a less fortunate person?

Look around, look inside yourself, yes, even take that brave look in the mirror, and see all that with admiring eyes of someone who might wish they had it.

Indeed, what is it that they would see, that is invisible to you?

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Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.

-- Dr. Seuss

Possibility of Losing It Sets Its Value High

There is that old truism that "we don't know what we have until we have lost it".

It gives us yet another little trick to use so that we spontaneously feel appreciation for what we have. Just imagining how we might feel if we lost our eye-sight, which we still have; or losing a dear person whom we still have in our life -- suddenly has to make us feel lucky, adding something big to the value of our life.

Some time ago our son, now a strong and tall six foot man with greyish hair came from his work straight to our place, and right at the front door he gave a bear hug to his mother, tears rolling down his cheeks.

He stayed like that for a little extended moment saying nothing just not leaving his mom from his embrace; before with a shaking voice telling us how his coworker's mother had passed away, and he empathized so strongly with him, that he couldn't wait to see that his mom was okay.

My vision got blurred, and I only noticed those were tears when I was wiping them off.

So, could empathy, and thought of possibly losing what we have in life answer that question: "How much is still left of life to be enjoyed?"

For maybe, and the odds are quite realistic, somewhere in this wide world there is a millionaire or a famous person, or both -- who would honestly envy us. If we could see ourselves at bed-time with the eyes of a soldier at a battlefield not knowing if he will see the next day -- wouldn't we appreciate that moment more even if with an insomnia, if we happen to be troubled by one.

And then, in the morning, as we take a look in that bathroom mirror -- who knows -- perhaps we could skip sticking our tongue out to see the level of erythrocytes on its surface fighting for our health -- and instead giving ourselves that deserved victorious wink.

Because, hey, we are still alive and winning with every breath!

© 2022 Val Karas

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