An aging man in the airport security screening has to take off his jacket and shoes and has to be completely scanned. He is out of sorts and doesn’t understand why there is so much fuss. When he is finally cleared and can put the contents of his pockets back in place, and his outerwear back on, he walks away, only to realize that he has lost his glasses. He goes back to retrieve them, not knowing where they are, and the cold-hearted personnel do nothing to help him until he becomes a nuisance. They are doing a job, you know?
This was a picture of my father-in-law this past week. A man who in the past was strong in body is now walking slowly. A man who would not hesitate to speak his mind is now showing great vulnerability. It is profoundly sad.
We can do nothing to stop aging. Millions have been spent on attempting to slow down the effects of time on our humanity, but ultimately, the end result is the same. Like watching a loved one go through airport security when you stay behind to watch, unable to help, death and aging can be frightening, frustrating. We can feel so helpless, and even hopeless.
So what do we do? How then do we live?
There are so many things that are out of our control.
Like aging and death.
But what is in our control?
Ultimately, I think the only thing that we can really take responsibility for is our own choices. We have opportunities every day, over and over, to make good or bad decisions. We can do right or wrong. We can love or hate. We can be bitter or be beautiful.
We cannot necessarily change the ugliness of life and death, but even in dark places, our choices, our attitudes and our actions can make a world of difference. In every situation, we have the opportunity to counter the downward spiral of things and make bold choices in victorious living.
That is not to say that we shun painful things. Rather, I think truly victorious living is when we look painful things in the eye, acknowledge them, and move forward despite it all.
There is a great poignancy here, living between pain and optimism. There is also a richness of life in these places that cannot be found by drowning in or denying either pain or optimism. Both are part of life, and embracing both leads to the best life possible, no matter what the circumstances.
I encourage you, no matter what your situation is, to embrace life, embrace death. And above all, to consider the choices you are making. Will you live a life that makes a difference?