This past year has been a particularly difficult year for me. I was, for a short two years, heading a department at work. The pressure, intrigue, call it what you will, got too much and I stepped down. When I did so, I felt both a weight lifted off my shoulders and a sinking feeling in my heart. I had thought the position of heading a department would bring out my abilities and enable me to take myself to the next level. It wasn't to be. Instead, I struggled and, to my own mind at least, I lost.
So, what now? Pick up the pieces and start again? Being over 60, I most feel like giving up. Dang it all. I've had enough. Most people my age have retired. In the last year alone, I counted at least 3 from the department alone. I am now, amazingly, the oldest staff here.
I'm tired. And, my body is beginning to give, starting with my knees. They hurt when I walk. I am not as energetic as I used to be too. I forget what I'm supposed to be doing, and I feel overwhelmed by the future ahead. I really cannot go on.
So, now, I look at the year ahead with no enthusiasm. I plod along like an automaton, just being, as much as I can, the person I've always been. But I'm dead inside.
For us Christians, we awake to Christ when we die to ourselves. It's metaphorical, of course, but there is much evidence to support this. Both Buddhism and modern psychology encourages us to let go of our aspirations so that we may better appreciate what we have before us. For the depressed, anxious, and unhappy amongst us, the solution is to trade our worldview for a more positive one. There are those self-help programs that go further, and encourage you to seek and live your dreams. But underlying those, and the rest, less aspirational and perhaps more spiritual, is a call to appreciate the little things in life - the people who love you, the comparative ease in your life, the fact that you live in a peaceful and safe neighborhood, and so on. It appears that the most important things in life are the things you take for granted. It's the old, I was unhappy because I had no shoes until I saw a man with no legs, philosophy.
It's the paradox where the more you care about others, and conversely, the less you care about yourself, the happier you will be. In Christian terms, give your life to God, and He'll give you Life. It's not the older adage of doing unto others what you would others do unto you, but the further step of living your life for the other. The step of sacrifice. Easier said than done.
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