My Attitude of Gratitude
P & O Liner, Turbine Steamship 'Mooltan" - a 20,000 tonner
I thought I'd make this one a little more personal than most
My attitude of gratitude has been slow in coming, but in retirement it has blossomed, and continues to do so. Earlier today I switched on my PC and brought up my Hub-pages site to find, to my delight, I’ve now been creating and placing these essays we call Hubs for four years. The Four-year icon appeard today. I noted also, that I’ve place 299 Hubs to date, so thought it fitting I’d make this 300th one a little more personal than most.
I'm a year older than Michael Cain and a year younger than the Dalai Lama
I am so glad that the All Mighty or the ‘Powers That Be,’ God, or whatever It is that decrees these things, has allowed me to live a full and long life. Long, in the sense that I’m well past the Biblical three-score and ten. So how old am I? Not ancient. The famous British actor Michael Cain is a year older than me, the Dalai Lama a year younger. The latter has been referring to himself as an old man for years now, but I certainly don’t feel old. Mature, yes, but not yet old.
A Douglas DC6B. Into the tropics
When does old age being?
So when does old age begin? I think it begins as a state of mind when we start to believe there is no more left to do, to learn, or to become. It can start as young as fifty or sixty. The man or woman, who sits in front of a television set most of the day with nothing more on their minds than what they’ll have for lunch or dinner, could well be old. The person who has lost interest in the affairs of the world, of their own family, or friends, could well be on that downward slide. I think so much is dependent upon one’s attitude. That attitude depending so much in turn on what they feel they have to live for.
Our life philosophy is critical to our long term happiness
A life philosophy that accepts, or at least holds out the possibility of an ‘afterlife,’ is also important. The older man or woman who looks down at their physical body and thinks, “This is all there is. It’s wearing out, and when it’s gone I will be no more –nothing” – lives a far more anxious life than those who believe they are a soul having a human existence; that they are immortal. Further, those who, like me, believe in Reincarnation, are even more fortunate, I feel. This is especially so if they’re of the belief that all the skills, values, qualities learned in this life time will be carried over as potentials to the next. Knowing that nothing is wasted in one’s life: the lessons learned, the merits and demerits of one’s deeds to be returned in karmic situations further along and in another life time, these are something that keeps us fully occupied until the Life we are decides to leave the body it has been using as its vehicle.
The Lockheed L188 (military version The Orion)
My life has been a fortunate one and for that I'm very grateful
Compared with so many, my life has been a fortunate one. Of course, I’ve had my joys and sorrows. I’ve suffered physical and emotional pain. Who hasn’t? I’ve fallen in love and been heart-broken. I’ve also learned that ‘being in love’ is not love but needing, a sign that one is not feeling whole, not complete. And I have learned that real love is not that at all. It is something that we, ourselves are. We are love. This is our essence. We are incomprehensibly great. And I appreciate the insight that granted me that knowing.
Sensitivity is not a weakness, we experience life at a deeper level through it
I appreciate also the development of a sensitivity which allows me to feel probably more deeply than the many; the sensitivity which allows a grown man to shed tears of emotion when something wonderful is done by another human being. Or when one witnesses, even in a film or television program, an act of loving kindness or of deep loss. For sensitivity of this kind is not the weakness as I used to so believe in my younger days. ‘Big boys don’t cry’ can cause a lot of hang-ups in later years. My twenty-seven years of twice-daily meditation has taught me quite a bit about what I am and what I am not.
A Air New Zealnd Douglass DC8 jet liner.
Spiritual Guidance has had a profound influence on my later life
I appreciate the sensitivity that has allowed me to write poetry that stems from someplace within that I do not know where. It comes from beyond conscious thinking. I appreciate that which has allowed me to develop my gift, which I suspect originated in another lifetime, of being able to take down Automatic Writing or Automatic Typing and to record conversations that have had a profound impact on how I look at life. I have become my own, personal medium or channeler. I have also been given the ‘gift of words,’ and in particular the gift of storytelling and I am so grateful for that.
"It's all good!" - and it is, if you're attitude's right
I am deeply grateful to my wife of fifty-three years, my three grown up children and my four grandchildren. Also to the friendship and love and the times of camaraderie with my in-laws and the big family I married into. Also the privilege and joy of having so many wonderful relatives, aunts, uncles, cousins, and even more extensive in number, the many, many friends made over my lifetime. As the current vernacular goes, “It’s all Good.”
A Qantas Boeing 707 jetliner. These were main international airliner of the day
A little piece of heaven was happening right now
As I sat on my back steps in the warm sunshine of early spring just clipping my finger and toe nails with a tiny pair of scissors just prior writing this, it occurred to me that my little courtyard is a ‘little piece of heaven’ happening right here and now. I’d just eaten lunch and in a moment would be hanging out my washing. The air was dry and still. There was not a cloud in the sky. The temperature was just right for shirt-sleeves, shorts and thongs. The sounds of the Lorikeets (honey-eating parrots) calling one another in the bottle brush trees, the buzz of insects around the flowers – perfect. It was so great to be in that very moment.
What's it feel like to be middle aged, Dad?
I feel it so rewarding to come through life, the childhood days, youth, then a young man, a middle-aged man and on into maturity and retirement. To go through most of the entire cycle – I say, “most” for I’m not dead yet. And speaking of middle age, I recall many years ago, when I was around forty-two my then sixteen year old daughter, Debbie, asking me – because she was writing and essay on the subject for a high school project – what it was like to be middle aged. I surprised her with my own question, which was:
“Do you mean young middle age or old middle age?”
“Eh? What do you mean?”
“Well, dear, I am young middle age. As you know, only two years ago I was regarded as young and fit enough to be selected by the Australian Antarctic Division to be an expeditioner. So I am young middle age…you’re assuming middle age starts at forty aren’t you?”
“Yes. Doesn’t it?”
The Danish Lauretson Line's Ice Reinforced ship, MV Nella Dan
Are you talking about 'young' middle age, or 'old middle age?'
“It’s arbitrary. Some even say it starts at thirty-five. But old middle age is from about sixty to seventy. Well, that’s my opinion. You know, at fifty a man can be at his greatest physical strength and endurance if he kept fit and strong throughout his earlier life. He just builds all those things up over time.”
Middle age can last for a period of around thirty-five years
I’m sure this sort of surprised my daughter, for no doubt her own teachers had provided the arbitrary label of ‘middle age’ to persons who are no longer regarded as young but are not yet old. It’s as if ‘one size fits all’ and that from around 35 to around 65 people are middle aged. Before that they are young, and after that they are old. How wrong that assumption is!
The Light Fleet Carrier, HMAS Sydney. Also 20,000 tons
A man can be at his physical best at fifty provided he keeps fit
Earlier I said that a man can be at his physical peak at fifty provided he’s kept himself in good health, has exercised regularly, and built up his physical strength over his lifetime. One of the expeditioners with me on Macquarie Island, Ken, was fifty. Ken was nine years older than anyone else. Yet he could make quicker time overland carrying a backpack and trudging that inhospitable island faster than anyone else. Perhaps not over a short distance. But when it came to the long haul, where twenty miles or more of hiking was concerned he was, if there was a contest, the first to arrive home the winner.
Make no mistake about it, middle age is not 'nearly over the hill.'
There is a misconception, largely portrayed and encouraged in the media that it is the young ones, the lads and lasses born in the last twenty or twenty-five years that are the productive ones, the creators, the ones who provide the real impetus to humanity. They could hardly be further from the truth. But I can see how this comes about. There are a number of middle aged who exploit this notion for their own self-interest – usually for money. I talk here of the disc-jockeys and concert and music promoters who know full well that teenagers and people under, say, twenty-five, are far more liable to be influenced by them. Certain segments of the pop-music industry thrive on this. Moreover, they always have.
The River Class Frigate HMAS Barcoo - a 'working' ship. 1430 tons
My earlier days and I was just as ignorant as most
Even back when I was a teenager there was on radio ‘The Top Forty’ songs to be played over and over on some radio stations. It hasn’t changed much. Only the standard of the music has changed: it has got steadily worse over time. Mind you, I recall my own uncle belittling and rubbishing the tunes and songs I liked way back in the 1950s too, so nothing has changed. Each older generation feels itself a little superior to that which is superseding it. But I did say I would make this 300th Hub a little more personal than most of those which have preceded it.
HMAS Kookaburra, a boom defence vessel. 540 tons
So many of the men I knew in the Navy are now gone
I feel I am very fortunate to be alive, fit, healthy, with my mental faculties still operating reasonably well – even though quick recall of names is not quite like it used to be – when so many of my relatives and close friends are no residing on Planet Earth. They have passed on. I lost an elder brother to suicide when I was fourteen – he was seventeen. I lost a younger brother in a traffic accident when I was twenty-three – he was twenty. Now, when I pick up the Returned Services Quarterly which lists those sailors, soldiers and airmen who have died in that period, I’ve seen the names many of the young men whom I knew in my Navy Days, appear in those lists. In time, of course, my own father and mother, my wife’s father and mother, a niece, and so many, many people who had a influence in my life – some I regard to this day as mentors – have ‘gone to God.’
HMAS Kimbla. Another working vessel. 762 tons
In our 'Golden Years' we begin to realize how much other people have meant in our lives
I am so grateful that these people once shared my life –as undoubtedly I shared theirs – though the significance of their presence was not realized at the time. A few words of encouragement, an example or two of how to live life, so much is given by so many people to us. But it is not until we reach those ‘golden years,’ the ‘autumn years’ of our lives that we begin to realize the love that existed in these relationships.
We live in a beautiful world. We only have to stop the incessant chatter of the ever-wanting ego mind which is rarely satisfied with anything for long, and be still. To look around us. Think upon the people in our lives; the ones who are with us now, and appreciate their being there. This is a world of relationships as far as we humans are concerned. However, we must realize that our most important relationship is with ourselves. We must love ourselves. For only when we love our self can we give of our very best. After all, we cannot give away that which we do not have. But when we love ourselves that is what we are able to give to others. And the more we give, the more we receive in return. And that’s something worth knowing.
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