In January 2016, I had an opportunity to visit a veterans' hospital. This turned out to be a rather thought-provoking experience for me. Some of the veterans that I visited with were completely mentally present and others were barely hanging on for life it seemed. Some could move about freely while others required a wheelchair. Some had all their limbs and others did not. Some simply rested during the visit and others talked. I wondered for a minute if I might end up somewhere like this when I got old.
The truth is the degree of quality with which we age and the speed at which we age is a big unknown. This reality further emphasizes living in the present. I sat for a long time next to a retired Lieutenant Colonel. I thought that while at one point, he had a lot of command and power, now he was living at a veterans' hospital with little possession surrounded by fellow veterans barely able to talk or move about. Some of the veterans had not served until retirement, but nonetheless, they had served and were afforded the same care as him. They all ate the same food and they all talked to the same people.
At the end, we all must die and this is a profound equalizer. The manner in which we age may in fact bring us to the realization that we are better than no other human being sooner rather than later. When we are stripped of the ability to communicate in an articulate manner, walk, run, write, etc, what will we do?
Each day is truly a gift. Perhaps we can learn this lesson earlier in life and treat people as we felt compelled to treat these veterans in their last days - with compassion and gratitude.
Ms. Bhakti Mary
I am an optimistic, positive, generous and driven woman who is passionate about self-improvement.
The essence of who you are does not lie in the past. What matters is what you are willing to do NOW. You are the presence.