My friend Josef calls me for he is in need. Josef has been a lifelong friend. Generous, undemanding; he loved me the way I was. That was when I was fresh out of ballet school and he owned a luggage shop on 14th street in Manhattan. He once took up body building, telling me that it was I who inspired him to transform his body from grossness to firmness. He would supply this California girl with crates of oranges to make fresh juice at a time in New York City when only the frozen was available. He brought his sound, Jewish temperament to my cool, Protestant over-work ethic. From him I got the meaning of the word mensch.
Life, as he tells it, is not the carefree uphill, somewhat painless place he knew it to be. Not any more. I hear even through the words a deep cry for help; I hear panic. His mental floor is shifting and he doesn’t like it.
How do we let go of yesterday’s expectations? See more of the answered dreams over the unanswered? Keep reaching for the achievable when less seems available, all of it with a body that hurts or worse, refuses to go pretty much anywhere? Many changes have happened in the sum of his 80 years.
A prime metaphor in nature for this time in life might be a large tree. Tall, spacious, its interior relieved from the burden of producing all those leaves. The sheer size, and age being its power; mighty in its reach, covered by beautiful leaves from spring through fall, a fine specimen. Are not many people drawn to this wise magnificent old tree? He, like this tree, can be depended upon. He is smart; more than just a lucky old bastard. He lived up to his promises, diseases included; they didn’t fell him. His magnetic presence shines like a beacon though the sparse interior. Year after year his glorious mien is luxurious proof of eternal life, no matter the tension of yesteryear or the generations playing below and climbing in his limbs. Success is ever present even with nature’s decrease, it forces youth and energy to advance further outward, always forward. Forward being the key to his vision, with attention given to the just happening moment, knowing that all is well, feeling firmly connected to the deeper reality that is life, which is forever rejuvenating. By this time he is able to find pleasure beyond pain using his power of focus, he has the breath of magnificent life clear and present. In retrospect all is right, all is well. For such a life, fear is a waste of time and not part of the equation. In each moment we choose the sweetest thought; having to evolve no matter what. So shine, my dear friend Josef, you’ve made it this far.