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It's A Gray Area: As you live your life, let it be a dance

October 23, 2010|By James P. Gray

As I turned "Medicare eligible" this year, I have been reflecting more and more about the time I have left on this planet. Maybe we all should — no matter how old we are. So I thought I would share some of my reflections with you. I know as you read these lines that you might think of me like Polonius, the father from Shakespeare's Hamlet who was sometimes seen as pushy with his advice ("This above all: to thine own self be true…"), but if these thoughts stimulate even just a few of you or, better yet, your children, then that is a risk I accept.

My first focus is upon some of Rick Warren's observations in "The Purpose Driven Life" about Proverbs 4:23, when he says, "Be careful how you think, (because) your life is shaped by your thoughts," and that "Change always starts first in your mind."

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In so many ways, we are the captains of our own ships, and we can shape our attitudes, spirits, and thoughts to live whatever life we seek.

So what is the life we seek? Obviously that is a multifaceted question. But boiled down to its essence, all of the world's great religions express it in a similar fashion, and that is to be of service to others. For example, Jesus said: "If you love me, feed my sheep" (John 21: 15-17).

Similarly, the Dalai Lama said, "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion; and if you want yourself to be happy, practice compassion."

There are many more examples, and if you want it presented better than I possibly could, read Henry Miller's short parable "The Smile at the Foot of the Ladder." Nevertheless, particularly with our lifestyles here in Southern California where the concept of "my yacht is bigger than your yacht" can often lure us toward a false god, it is helpful to be reminded to "keep our eyes on the real prize" of life, which is being of service to others. That is where the real gratification on this Earth lies, and we can achieve it in every part of our lives, be it at home, work, or during our leisure time. Of course we can't bring peace and compassion to the whole world, but we can help to bring them to our little corner of it.

Among the saddest things in life are, first, for a person to look back over his life when he is about to lose it and conclude that he never really lived it, and second, for a person to lose a family member without ever really having told the deceased family member that he loved him. Take positive steps to keep those tragedies from happening to you!

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