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The Spectator
founded 2004 by ron cruger
A place for intelligent writers
A place for intelligent readers
 by Ron Cruger
rcruger@san.rr.com
My changing life
2014 Spectator Ron - The Spectator All Rights Reserved
C
There was a time when one of my prime life focuses was directed towards my car. It always had to be clean, even spotless. It had to have at least three coats of wax on it. There was a time when I was reluctant to take it out of the garage if it was raining. I would change my carís oil myself. Iíd clean the spark plugs. Iíd vacuum my carís carpets after having a passengerís shoes touch its deep blue pile.
††††††††††The lawn and gardens had to be properly mowed, raked and cultivated.
††††††††††The cuffs on my slacks had to break at precisely the proper length on my shoes. And the shoes, they had to reflect a particular shine.
††††††††††Closets, cabinets and shelves had to be orderly and neat.
††††††††††Oh, there was more, but you get the idea.
††††††††††I donít think I was controlled or obsessed by these notions of control, but they were definitely a part of my life, my daily doings. They took space in my catalogue of thoughts that might have been home to more thoughtful and cerebral contemplations. They took time to accomplish.
††††††††††Iíve never been one to believe that humans change a lot during our lifetimes, but looking back on the past few years, especially those since Iíve retired, I see the alterations that have crept into my daily calendar.
††††††††††My car, although never grimy, is at times in need of a wash. I wax the finish once or twice a year. I vacuum the carpets when it is convenient to me.
††††††††††I still care how the lawn and gardens appear, but I find myself having to work myself into an energetic mood once or twice a month in order to mow, rake and cultivate.
††††††††††There has been a definite slippage in my attire. Comfort has surpassed appearance.
††††††††††The neatness of closets, cabinets and shelves has been relegated to second place on the scale of importance. Usefulness reigns primary.
††††††††††The changes in these aspirations came about slowly, but they definitely coincided with my retirement from pursuing a business career.
††††††††††At the onset of retirement I found myself noticing a thin layer of dust on my car and deciding to wash it come the weekend, not sooner.
††††††††††The lawns and gardens would have to wait until ďIt wasnít quite so hot outside.Ē
††††††††††The shine on my shoes would have to wait until other obligations were met.
††††††††††So, what has brought about this shift in importance in my life?
††††††††††During the day I find myself offering, as sage advice, to myself, and to others, ďIs this the most important thing in your/my life?Ē Instead of mowing the lawn today Iíd rather read a few chapters of my current book. The lawn will be there tomorrow.
††††††††††Iím not sure if, as we age, our minds and bodies, no longer want to expend the effort required to keep cars spotless, or have a perfectly manicured lawn or have an everlasting shine on our shoes.
††††††††††I think, rather, it is a combination of priorities and the acquisition of different aspirations.
††††††††††Today I spend more time thinking about the state of the world. I reflect on my relationships with family. I meditate on whether I have often enough told my children how much I love them. Am I bringing happiness to my wifeís life? I spend time thinking about old friends and how much they mean to me.
††††††††††I look back and think of the years I had spent striving for success in my career, in business. I think of how important I made a promotion, a title, a lawn, a car, a closet.
††††††††††I believe it is more than just the passing of years and the fading of energies that cause this change in life goals Ė in establishing what is really important in our lives.
††††††††††A glance at the evening news and the hardships endured by millions around the world should bring all of us to a point of empathy with the unfortunate souls of which we share the planet.
††††††††††The poor and the hungry, the tired, the suffering and the tormented inhabit much of the planet. Today I would find it difficult to make my dayís priority a spotless automobile or a well groomed lawn. Today I wish I could contribute more to ease the pains of the suffering and the tormented. Things must be done. Cars need washing, lawns need care, shoes need shining, but they are chores, not all-important life goals. They are not objectives, when attained, prove our worth. They are chores. Only chores.
††††††††††I realize today that my eyes, my goals, my life purpose were set too low. I saw only the immediate, the petty, the short-sighted material things around me.
††††††††††Today, the look of the lawns is adequate. My shoes are clean and shined. The car is clean and runs well.
††††††††††The difference today is my sense of importance. What is different today is my feeling about feelings.
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