Septuagenarian Reflections: Acquiring a Missing Sense of Awe

As an inquisitive child, I remember asking my grandparents about their lives – what it was like when they were young, particularly before they emigrated from Ukraine/Poland to the US. All were Jews who fled ever-present danger; unlike rules for game animals, you see, it was always ‘open season’ on Jews back then (is it my imagination, or is that happening again?). My paternal grandmother, Lara, came here at a very young age with no memories of the old country. What she did have – and did not reveal until very near the end of her life – was the knowledge that her seven older brothers all had been murdered by Cossacks around the turn of the 20th century. As history unfolded, this could be classified as merely a warm-up for Babi Yar and who knows how many other unrecorded similar atrocities..

My paternal grandfather, Abraham (né Avram) told me how, as a child, he used to help his father deliver grain in burlap sacks to Kiev on a horse-drawn cart. Part of the payment they received for their farm produce consisted of the emptied burlap sacks in which grain had been delivered – from which his mother made clothing. I, from the comfort of America in the 1950’s, remember thinking how different my grandfather’s childhood world was from the one he presently inhabited (a nice apartment in Newark, New Jersey) as he told me this story. I remember imagining that he must have had to make remarkable adjustments to life which had changed so radically (even though much for the better in most ways). This insight into the course of my grandfather’s life was unusual for me, given what I now realize about my young self. It turned out to be a harbinger of the “adjustments” that were in store for me in the course of my own life…

I don’t know if it was peculiar to my particular psychic make-up or a distinguishing characteristic of my generation (I was born in 1944), but, looking back, I think I must have been jaded from birth. What I mean is that, having spent my formative years in the shadow of mushroom clouds (we regularly did nuclear blast “duck and cover” exercises in public grammar school) – so to speak – I felt immune to any sense of novelty, awe, or wonder. From my perspective (although I never could have articulated it back then), the technological advances and social reverses which regularly occurred did so simply as a matter of course, as if it were simply to be expected. My childhood attitude bordered on one of blasé entitlement, and this was markedly discordant with what I just described thinking about my grandfather. It doesn’t make sense and yet my lack of awe or wonder persisted through most of my adult life – until recently. I spent much of my life longing to be transported spiritually by some irresistible, wondrous, awe-inspiring force (say, like God revealing his existence to me), while remaining ever emotionally unmoved – as almost an outside observer in my own everyday life.

As I write, I am tending the excellent wood stove in my family room. Whenever the outside temperature is below 25 F or if it is cold, damp and rainy, I like to have a fire. It may be surprising to hear me say that this is one of the most satisfying and reassuring activities I have ever done. I warms me, profoundly, and more than in the thermodynamic sense; the acts of starting and maintaining the fire and feeling its warmth are deeply reassuring and connect me, in an abstract, yet palpable way, to my ancestors. I have a vivid early childhood memory of my maternal grandmother, Blanche, saying “I have to make heat,” and taking me down to the basement of the second-story walk-up apartment in which she lived with my grandfather. There, she carefully shoveled coal into the furnace from a small ready pile kept near the furnace door. Not a piece was wasted; even the dust was swept onto the shovel and fed to the fire.

From this memory, I can easily generate abstract images of my earlier and forever unknown ancestors – at various times and places over thousands of years – sitting near a fire to warm themselves in what must have been brief respites from hard, uncomfortable, uncertain lives. Inescapable is the realization that had a single member of the lines of humans who were my ancestors not survived to procreate, I would not exist. There is awe for me, today, in that thought. Ancillary to it is the realization that our present ability to record ourselves in durable media may forever change how we see ourselves in the stream of humanity. Our lineal descendants will be able to see and hear us, their progenitors, on HD videos going back scores, hundreds, even thousands of years. Those sufficiently interested may well suffer from ancestor overload. I realized this when I came across an old photo of my grandfather Abe who, at about age 20, remarkably resembled my 3 year-old son.

Nowadays, as my physical wellbeing declines (no identified terminal illness, yet…) in ways I can no longer deny – as I approach my end – I find nostalgia, awe and a great sense of mystery in many things I used to take for granted. The technological progress I previously considered merely due, ordinary or mundane, I have come to see as near-miraculous. The advances my grandfather witnessed – from horse cart to jet airliner – pale compared to mine, from vacuum tube to printed circuit. And from horse-cart to printed circuits (each of whose count of transistor gates keeps increasing) or, for that matter, from the invention of the wheel to artificial intelligence – has happened in mere seconds, as measured in ticks of the big sidereal clock in the sky. This realization alone, this hint of the possibility of a glimpse of the immanence of God in the mind of humanity, outweighs a lifetime of blasé shrugs. 

Nowadays, one inescapable mystery of life strikes most every time I think back on the course of my own youth. It is often a lancinating psychic pain: how have I gone from then ’til now so incredibly quickly? It feels like it was only yesterday that I was a promising, innocent young boy with much to anticipate. How I long to go back and whisper some of life’s present wisdom in that scared little boy’s ear. But I am already an old man who developed few of his talents – and even those not much to my satisfaction – with nothing left to look forward to; all life’s milestones, so exciting in the anticipation, are past but one. Where has my life gone…? Where have those lively, innocent, hopeful faces of my childhood companions gone? Many are already dead and this somehow just doesn’t compute. I shrink from the thought. I look at the cast bios while watching old movies on TCM. Those magnificent men, those beautiful women, so vibrant, so full of life…  they are all dead and gone, every one. My life now often consists of merely running out the clock with some lingering vague hope for finding meaning, recognition, affirmation or love (of a more abiding kind than the lust I once confused with love). Does the fact that I have lived make any difference, I ask myself as I count down my life one 90-day prescription refill (really seven bottles of them simultaneously every three months) at a time? Will I outlive the next refill or will it survive me? When my light goes out, all existence – as far as I am concerned – will cease. That, too, is a mystery – one I find presently painful, awe-inspiring, incomprehensible.

Several moments of nostalgia recently rose to near-physical pain. Tiny excerpts from the tale of my life. Something led me to look on Google Earth at a sleep-away camp I went to for eight weeks for each of the summers of 1953, ’54, and ’55 – age 8 – 10. It was a scary experience to go from north NJ to NYC, then by train to Great Barrington MA, to Monterey by bus. It was an all-day trip, whose separation anxiety and motion sickness led me to vomit all over the bus floor even as we arrived at Camp Monterey for boys and sister Camp Owaissa for girls.. The stench of this episode lingered and did not improve my popularity. Such gustatory ejaculations were emblematic, it seems, of my childhood fears. The first day of kindergarten, my mother walked me the half-mile to school and left me with my class. The separation anxiety was so intense I vomited there, all over the bright, shiny yellow enamel table I shared with other children seated around it. Typical of my upbringing, I only recall being given a wash and clean clothes, but not the love and reassurance I needed to assuage the fear of being separated from my mother. 

But I digress, the point I wanted to make is that, notwithstanding the anxiety of getting to camp and staying there in real time, the memories of having been there leave me with truly heart-rending nostalgia and awe. On Google Maps, there remains not the slightest trace of the rather extensive physical manifestations of the camp. Not the bungalow in which we slept, the dining hall, stables, baseball fields, shooting range or the pine grove, the site of bonfires and marshmallow immolations. Neither were there the docks on the lake where I overcame many fears and learned to swim and water ski. The memory of water skiing, in turn, led me to recall my next-door neighbor, Larry, from Elizabeth NJ. Although a couple of years older, he was my best friend through most of my childhood. He was the water ski instructor at the camp (we first learned of it from him) and I had lost contact with him when I left for college. As was my style, sadly I know now, my friends were then disposable. I rarely maintained contact with any in a given school or locale after either of us physically moved on. I remember my dad told me he had heard from Larry about 30 years ago and that Larry said he would be glad to hear from me. Alas, even then, I was busy with life and never bothered to reach out. I have searched in vain for him on the web recently. How I would love to recall with him the times at Camp Monterey and the endless stickball games we played in our neighborhood! I can only see this trait in myself as a defect of character which is self-punishing. The longing and nostalgia engendered from this self-inflicted loss indeed constitute a form of ‘just-so’ retribution.

A similar longing took hold of me was I watched the movie My Fair Lady recently. My mother was an amateur ‘Borscht Belt’ performer along the lines of Ethel Merman. She had some talent, a powerful voice and a dramatic persona. She played leading roles in numerous local amateur and semi-pro musical productions, especially Gypsy. Anyway, my parents had a collection of 33rpm renditions of all the popular Broadway musicals, including My Fair Lady. I even went with friends to see a few of these productions live. Damn Yankees, seen at age 12, introduced me to the more-than-real, ‘larger than life’ effect produced by such artful shows. A rare moment of that elusive awe I longed for. I later took the great unrequited love of my childhood, Karen, to see Camelot with Richard Burton, Julie Andrews and Robert Goulet – the original Broadway cast (It did not make her love me). Again, a brief moment of inspiration, whose impact was lost on me since the entire enterprise was in service of somehow causing Karen to ‘love’ me; a manipulation, in short, which blunted the effect that experience might otherwise have had.

As with nostalgia for Camp Monterey and longing to recapture the magic of life which eluded me in real-time, I had the same longing while I was watching My Fair Lady. I think it is a mix of many emotional threads. These musicals display a completely different culture from the present. The sheer innocence and socially docile, amenable humanity of the time seems quaint, almost child-like compared to today. The simple decency in those musical dramas and the nobility of even the fallen characters, spoke of an untainted human condition – flawed yet hopeful – today warped beyond recognition. So I think we have lost something culturally in what is today required of entertainment. More personally, these musicals connect me to whatever small part of my childhood was not fraught with fear of not measuring up to my parents expectations; that gnawing sense that I was somehow responsible for their happiness and finding fulfillment by my performance on the stage of their lives. What a burden! And these lilting refrains provided a temporary balm, easing the chronic aches in the reality of family dysfunction. A glimpse of life and love as it could be. And seeing My Fair Lady today stands, magically, for the proposition that some values are, indeed, timeless – regardless of what our fake culture now insists.

I try to avoid the intense self-conscious moments of existential fear rooted in my childhood as best I can. I have never required the admonition ‘memento mori.’ To the contrary, what I need is a time out from recalling my mortality. The best antidote I have found is keeping busy. That is precisely why I failed at retirement 10 years ago. After a two month trial off of work, I received an offer of part-time anesthesiology practice and I grabbed it. I continue to do that on average about 6 days each month. As well, I am starting a second part-time job as a physician in a drug & alcohol rehab, where I will help detox addicts four weekend days per month (so as to not conflict with my anesthesia work). I do this simply because when I work, I become the task of doing my job and this affords me precious moments of ‘memento vitae’ – remembering life, unencumbered for a time with the intense consciousness of self (self-centeredness in recovery-speak) which is toxic in the large doses which I seem unable to escape when I am not working, reading or engrossed in a good movie (of which there are few made nowadays).

Speaking of addiction and recovery, somebody once told me she thought I was a ‘meanings’ junkie. Maybe that is part of my problem..

13+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

Author: civil westman

Driven to achieve outward and visible things, I became a pilot, a doctor and a lawyer. Eventually, I noticed the world had still not beat a path to my door with raves. Now, as a septuagenarian I still work anesthesia part-time, fly my flight simulator to keep my brain sparking and try to elude that nagging, intrusive reminder that my clock is running out. Before it does, I am trying, earnestly, to find a theory of everything - to have even a brief "God's-eye" view of it all before the "peace which passeth all understanding."

24 thoughts on “Septuagenarian Reflections: Acquiring a Missing Sense of Awe”

  1. My father will be 95 in a few months; watching him grow old continues to be an honor and an privilege. He is a much different, and better person now than he was 20 years ago, and he was great then: my Dad has always been great, but he just keeps getting better. We are never too old to learn and to change and to grow. I could and should say the same thing about my my mother, but at 86, she still seems relatively young to me 🙂

    You are only in your 70’s, lol: you are just a whippersnapper yet. 🙂

    6+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  2. civil westman:
    I don’t know if it was peculiar to my particular psychic make-up or a distinguishing characteristic of my generation (I was born in 1944), but, looking back, I think I must have been jaded from birth. What I mean is that, having spent my formative years in the shadow of mushroom clouds (we regularly did nuclear blast “duck and cover” exercises in public grammar school) – so to speak – I felt immune to any sense of novelty, awe, or wonder.

    This doesn’t seem to be an unusual reaction from a child who experienced the kind of fear you and your ancestors surely must have felt. Even as an outsider (born in the U.S.) and a mere tourist to Eastern European cities- Kiev, Budapest, and Gdansk, I sensed an overwhelming melancholia that I found nowhere else.

    I wish more Western tourists would visit Ukraine, Hungary, and Poland to witness the lingering effects of a century of Cossack, Hitler and Stalin rule. It makes far more of an impression than any history book ever could. The lovely thing is that all three countries are stronger, more resilient and determined to never let it happen again. I’m spending part of my next vacation in Poland because that is where I want to spend my U.S. dollars.

    I wish you all the best and perhaps a trip back to Eastern Europe to witness the growth and renewed spirit?

    5+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  3. I enjoy reading your posts. I like the phrase “meanings junkie”.

    I barely knew my grandfathers. One died early in life I gather from substance abuse. The other I saw during a summer trip when I was six. His life also had the change from horsepower being flesh to it being under a hood.

    There is such a special joy  in talking to people who went from nothing to something. The old ways get changed. There was an uncle of my mother that was amazed at a new refrigerator. “How could those little ice cubes keep the whole thing cold!”

    Fires also are comforting. I can’t explain why. I remember the joy of sitting around a camp fire watching the flames dance while talking to friends. Is it the metamorphosis of fuel becoming heat? Or the light that mesmerizes? One thing for sure no wieners or marshmallows get roasted before modern heating units. Or the laughter and vagaries of the wind blowing the smoke around the circle.

    4+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  4. I don’t know if it is a blessing or a curse but people have more time to ponder things now. When daily life was more than hitting buttons on a remote control, people actually had to do things that required movement. Getting to a library and finding the right book took hours.

    “When I was a child I had to walk twenty miles to the TV to change the channel. In the snow I might add.”

    4+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  5. What a great essay! Thanks for writing. There was much I could identify with.

    I also saw that production of Camelot at age 7!  As I look back it was unbelievable! My dad took me and we had great seats- looking back , I never had such good seats again. Julie Andrews, Richard Burton and Robert Goulet 60 feet away. But of course I had no idea at the time.

    I’ve also indulged in some forensic research on my life recently and wondered what happened to various friends. And like you, I never kept up.

    Still, I tell myself it’s okay, we all move on. I’ve connected (sort of) with two previous girlfriends, including my first real love from whom I was tragically parted, but she was married, old, no longer attractive at all, and she didn’t want contact, which made perfect sense anyway. Why? I was/am married too. We had completely different lives.

    I have a hard enough time keeping current friends anyway.

    Thanks again!

    4+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  6. “…a time out from recalling my mortality”.  Oh, if only!  I think every day of Prospero’s words, drowning his book, relinquishing his power, contemplating going back  to Milan “where every third thought shall be my grave.”

    And who was it who wrote, “It is important to remain cheerful, for the sake of younger people who may have begun to suspect.”  ?

    Your writing is luminous and evocative and important to us here.  The Lord bless you and keep you.

    4+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  7. Franco:
    What a great essay! Thanks for writing. There was much I could identify with.

    I also saw that production of Camelot at age 7!  As I look back it was unbelievable! My dad took me and we had great seats- looking back , I never had such good seats again. Julie Andrews, Richard Burton and Robert Goulet 60 feet away. But of course I had no idea at the time.

    I’ve also indulged in some forensic research on my life recently and wondered what happened to various friends. And like you, I never kept up.

    Still, I tell myself it’s okay, we all move on. I’ve connected (sort of) with two previous girlfriends, including my first real love from whom I was tragically parted, but she was married, old, no longer attractive at all, and she didn’t want contact, which made perfect sense anyway. Why? I was/am married too. We had completely different lives.

    I have a hard enough time keeping current friends anyway.

    Thanks again!

    I’ve had the experience of being contacted by people from the distant past, and at first I thought it meant they wanted to resume a relationship.  But no: they want closure.  It’s like, whatever happened to so-and-so? And once they know,  that’s it.

    I’m afraid I did this to a high school friend once myself, only once…

    (but it can be a tad gratifying to find out that you made such an impression on someone whom you barely noticed at the time…)

    2+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
  8. Franco:
     

    Still, I tell myself it’s okay, we all move on. I’ve connected (sort of) with two previous girlfriends, including my first real love from whom I was tragically parted, but she was married, old, no longer attractive at all, and she didn’t want contact, which made perfect sense anyway. Why? I was/am married too. We had completely different lives.

    I have a hard enough time keeping current friends anyway.

    Thanks again!

    An interesting related experience: for some reason I can’t explain, I thought of a girl named Jill I had a crush on at a summer swim club when I was 13. She was a year older than me did not attend my school district, so I knew nothing about her – only beauty and hormones. The memory was of her walking along a boardwalk over the pool (gliding actually) in a bikini. She did not know I existed. Anyway, I managed to find a picture of her on the internet! She was “married, old and no longer attractive at all!” The main impact on me was the stark realization that I, too, am “married, old…” you get it. That really drove home my age status, like when a patient asked for me to take care of her in the OR recently (I am an anesthesiologist) instead of one of my colleagues. The nurse who told me of the request quoted the patient, who said “not this guy, the old one.” At least somebody still wanted to “sleep with me” – after a fashion.

    4+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  9. civil westman:
    That really drove home my age status, like when a patient asked for me to take care of her in the OR recently (I am an anesthesiologist) instead of one of my colleagues. The nurse who told me of the request quoted the patient, who said “not this guy, the old one.”

    LOL 🙂

    2+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
  10. Judy Campbell:

    civil westman:
    That really drove home my age status, like when a patient asked for me to take care of her in the OR recently (I am an anesthesiologist) instead of one of my colleagues. The nurse who told me of the request quoted the patient, who said “not this guy, the old one.”

    LOL 🙂

    If it makes you feel better CW, my best friend (ER critical care MD) only goes to doctors over 60. To put it in her blunt NYC terms: “The young ones don’t give a s**t and don’t have the experience. Never go to a doc under 60.”

    P.S. My radiologist is 82 years old and still teaches a med school course at University of Florida. He tried to retire 5 years ago and there was such an outcry of protest from the women in my community, we managed to “drag him back in.”

    4+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  11. שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָֽד

    “.Hear, O Israel: the  LORD  our God, the LORD  is one”

    2+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
  12. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

    13 “And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 he[c] will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil. 15 And he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full. 16 Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them; 17 then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain, and the land will yield no fruit, and you will perish quickly off the good land that the Lordis giving you.

    18 “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.20 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.

    40 So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God. 41 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the Lord your God.”

    2+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
  13. He has told you, O man, what is good;    and what does the Lord require of youbut to do justice, and to love kindness,[b]    and to walk humbly with your God?

    3+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  14. 10 Cents:
    MJBubba, what is the connection?

    A “meanings junkie” with a Jewish background is much more likely to respond to the Shema of Israel than to any appeal I can make for him to trust Jesus.

    His search for meaning is only going to be successful when he can give thanks, honor, praise and worship to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

    As for me, I believe that Jesus is Messiah, but there is a more basic point at which a search for meaning has to get nudged into the right direction.

    1+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
  15. MJBubba:

    10 Cents:
    MJBubba, what is the connection?

    A “meanings junkie” with a Jewish background is much more likely to respond to the Shema of Israel than to any appeal I can make for him to trust Jesus.

    His search for meaning is only going to be successful when he can give thanks, honor, praise and worship to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

    As for me, I believe that Jesus is Messiah, but there is a more basic point at which a search for meaning has to get nudged into the right direction.

    If I remember right Civil was moved at one time by Christian hymns. He shared a beautiful Christmas hymn I think.

    1+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
  16. 10 Cents:

    MJBubba:

    10 Cents:
    MJBubba, what is the connection?

    A “meanings junkie” with a Jewish background is much more likely to respond to the Shema of Israel than to any appeal I can make for him to trust Jesus.

    His search for meaning is only going to be successful when he can give thanks, honor, praise and worship to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

    As for me, I believe that Jesus is Messiah, but there is a more basic point at which a search for meaning has to get nudged into the right direction.

    If I remember right Civil was moved at one time by Christian hymns. He shared a beautiful Christmas hymn I think.

    Here is a quote of Civil’s.

     As a lapsed Jewish/Episcopalian, I can remember the stirring emotion while listening to sacred Christmas music or reading a Gospel account of Jesus’ birth aloud before the congregation from the King James version. Even the language was powerful. Then, I was capable of feeling chills and often did.

    2+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
  17. That was a great read. Thanks for sharing yourself. I don’t have as exciting a background as you, but I also feel the same way about having a fire. It warms in many ways.

    2+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
  18. 10 Cents:

    10 Cents:

    MJBubba:

    10 Cents:
    MJBubba, what is the connection?

    A “meanings junkie” with a Jewish background is much more likely to respond to the Shema of Israel than to any appeal I can make for him to trust Jesus.

    His search for meaning is only going to be successful when he can give thanks, honor, praise and worship to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

    As for me, I believe that Jesus is Messiah, but there is a more basic point at which a search for meaning has to get nudged into the right direction.

    If I remember right Civil was moved at one time by Christian hymns. He shared a beautiful Christmas hymn I think.

    Here is a quote of Civil’s.

     As a lapsed Jewish/Episcopalian, I can remember the stirring emotion while listening to sacred Christmas music or reading a Gospel account of Jesus’ birth aloud before the congregation from the King James version. Even the language was powerful. Then, I was capable of feeling chills and often did.

    That sounds like a good jumping-off point in a search for meaning.

    God wants to reconcile the broken relationship you have with Him.   That is where you find meaning, and eternity, too.

    1+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
  19. MJBubba:
    That is where you find meaning, and eternity, too.

    I like this comment MJ. As you know I’m a secular disguised as a Deist, but I do believe in living my life by the values I have been taught by my Judeo-Christian upbringing. This religious background has been highly influential in teaching me right from wrong and what is appealing is the pragmatism. It is so much easier and fulfilling to live a clean life than not!

    2+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
  20. EThompson:
    …what is appealing is the pragmatism. It is so much easier and fulfilling to live a clean life than not!

    Solomon said as much.   Then Socrates and Plato observed something similar.

    Living right yields results.   You know what is wrong and you know what is right.   Don’t do what is wrong and do what is right.

    You will end up with friends and without enemies.   Things go well.   If you learn to live below your means, then you can retire in comfort.

    All of that, of course, may turn out badly anyhow.   The world is corrupted, and fires, plagues, wars, storms, floods, all sorts of calamities, might derail or even end your life.

    Whether life is long and peaceful or not, there is still the question of eternity.

    And we circle back to the question of meaning.

    There is a God who loves you and wants to restore the broken relationship He has with you.

    2+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
  21. MJBubba:
    You will end up with friends and without enemies.   Things go well.

    At the end of His life, Jesus had very few friends and lots of enemies. Things did not exactly go well for Him.

    2+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
  22. Judy Campbell:

    MJBubba:
    You will end up with friends and without enemies.   Things go well.

    At the end of His life, Jesus had very few friends and lots of enemies. Things did not exactly go well for Him.

    Jesus was a prophet.   Prophets do not have the luxury of living quiet lives.   He was on a mission to save your soul.

    The thing we needed most, and could not possibly do for ourselves, was the thing He did for us on the cross.

    Solomon’s advice for righteous living still holds.

    2+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar

Leave a Reply