Little things can set people over the edge. Looking through a mirror at one’s own reflection, sometimes the image becomes jaded and foggy, perhaps even a little melancholy and difficult to bare; people can’t sit there and watch themselves become old because then they would have to accept that their younger years were fleeting, perhaps they didn’t even matter… how can someone who spent their entire life working and slaving away and really claim that they ever lived.
This, and more the old man pondered on his park bench, perhaps trying to find ways in which such thoughts could be prophetic, or even heart-warming. But again and again he found himself locked in immortal combat with himself… immortal because memories last forever, immortal because even if he were to die, the old man couldn’t help but think that there had to be some kind of trace record left of why human kind was here to begin with.
It couldn’t be all for naught, it couldn’t be fleeting and shallow… because then life itself has no definable meaning to it, which meant the old man spent the better part of his days doing nothing; he didn’t write a great novel, he didn’t climb the Swiss Alps or rock climb in some distant, far-off location of memorable description. No, the old man only lived every single day like he was told to do. He got his first job at the age of 16; he spent a little time with friends, most of his time with family, and worked hard for a living so that he could offer himself a life.
The old man has no children, nor had he ever considered having them because children were a chore, something that would get in the way of doing work and preparing for the rest of his life.
What the old man didn’t know though was that life wasn’t intended to be so fleeting and simple. He figured the rules weren’t for suckers, but for people on the fast-track to success… he never wanted a parade, and he never imbibed more than he could handle at cocktail parties.
Immortal combat, feeding pigeons at the park and pondering life and where it went wrong, the old man wouldn’t become younger, he wouldn’t find his sweetheart at this age, and he’d never have children.
What was really depressing though was that the old man lost his own immortality: with family dead he had no actual legacy to carry on. People didn’t come to visit him, and relatives didn’t share family photos because there was none to be had.
The old man wasn’t immortal. He was mortal—same as all of the people that crossed his path.
People… so many people like this, like him… they all live lives by conventional rules that dictate how to eat, how to think, how to feel, until the day comes that fate would ask you ante up the accomplishments of your life, give yourself silent reflection, reverence and remembrance of all things that were done in the name of life and living.
The old man has none of these… but you do, and so do I.
Make something of life, before your immortal memories fade away forever.
So many morality tales on here lately! It must be trending :D But seriously, it was an interesting read. It gave me something to ponder on my way home from work, in place of the audiobook I'd just finished (I forgot to buy a replacement yet, go me!) so thanks for that. It proved worthy of pondering some.
I can't help but wonder if you feel that you are the "old man" in this story. If that is the case then please don't despair. It is never too late to touch other peoples' lives, or to make a difference in the world around you. I remember, when I was little, reading a news article about a local math teacher who had died with "no survivors" but, the reporter -- himself a former student of said teacher, who was also a music teacher and a sports coach -- attested that he left a "broad and expansive legacy" which would touch the local community for years to come.
You can't change the world. So change it for somebody who matters, whether it's yourself, a significant other, or a true friend who's always been there.
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