Growing Old and the Three Pillars of Life (Part II)

It hasn’t taken me more than a decade of schooling to recognize that some of the most fundamental human activities are harshly neglected. These are broadly included in three categories (or pillars, as I prefer to call them): to be a good lover, to be a good parent, and to appreciate work. Divorce statistics, childhood neglect and abuse, and unwelness at work are among a long list of issues that have affected social welfare.

Along the lines of what I wrote last week, I hope to look at my grandchild in the eye, one day, and be confident that my legacy aligned with those three pillars.

Before I go on, I feel compelled to acknowledge that impediments are bound to alter many of our courses. These, in turn, play crucial roles in a broader conversation about privilege, and our ability to navigate life freely. For now, though, I’ll utilize the shortness of this post to outline the aforementioned pillars.

To be a good lover.

This pillar branches out into two different forms. First and foremost, human sexuality is, debatably, the most important driving force behind our actions and motivations. So, in my humble opinion, to disregard the sexual intentions that lie behind our decisions neglectfully overshadows the forces that got us here in the first place.

Second, being a good lover isn’t directed exclusively toward those with whom we share our intimate lives. It is directed toward our own wellbeing, our friends, our pets, nature, and so on.

To know how to love is not a quality to was given to us at birth. It is a practice that can be ameliorated every day.

To be a good parent.

I firmly believe that learning how to be a good parent can be exercised in the absence of children. The reason for this is quite simple: we’ve all been children at some point, and we all have the ability to assess how our parents positively and/or negatively raised us. Being a good parent is therefore not confined exclusively to child-rearing, but rather to understanding how to momentarily discard ego-driven motives in favor of ensuring the prosperity of loved ones.

My parents got divorced when I was eight-years-old. It took me at least ten years of reflection to understand how that event and its repercussions affected my upbringing. And by reflecting on this challenging experience, I am much more confident and prepared to prevent its occurrence in my own life.

Appreciate work.

I wrote a while back, in When You Notice the Noise, about differentiating signal from noise. In this day and age — and more than any other time in history — we are inundated with sources of distractions that forcefully deter us from our potential. The average North American spends almost five hours per day watching the television. That statistic alone is frightening. Furthermore, it seems to me that most are unable to sit down and do one thing very well for a long time. Let us all make that a priority.

There is nothing more rewarding than focused, creative, and purposeful work. Utilizing the power of our two hands and our brain has given birth to setting foot on the Moon, building planes, engineering personal computers, and writing books that completely altered the human condition.

Human creation, as opposed to human commoditization, is simply beautiful. It reminds us that there are no limits to our minds, no frontiers to our beliefs, and no borders that we can’t cross.

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