The Way We Were
We’ve all heard people say it and we all say it ourselves too: “I’m not what I used to be.” Some of us were better looking long ago, we were better lovers, had more patience, ran more quickly, etc. Time wages a war of attrition against us mere mortals and slowly, but ever so surely, like a veritable Indian giver, time takes away all the gifts it once gave us. And sometimes life is not so slow handed and snatches what we value most with the mercy of a guillotine. For even of this great country I can say, "It is not what it once was." Do the Indians want that back too? (Something tells me they wouldn't take it now.) I often feel as if watching America and observing life is like watching the battery bar on my cell phone. Slowly, slowly I see the life force draining away. I'm far from the phone charger and who will hear me now? Who would care to hear me now, after all, I'm not what I used to be. In the course of interviewing people, I have often asked the following question: "What is the one thing that if it were taken away from you, would make you cease to be you?" The answers varied greatly. But the universally true answer lies in the Bible, the one true and eternal "charger." For there is only one thing in life that leaves us not "less than we used to be" but rather greater than what we ever were: God's laws. In keeping His commandments we don't cease to be who we are, but rather become ever more who we were meant to be. Countries and people only decline when they attach themselves to false gods, when they spurn morality and evacuate religion from their lives as though that ONE sustaining force is what's burning down the house. We learn from the story of Esau how he was tired, even in his youth, because he was always pursuing the next big thing, going for the next big kill. He attached himself to this world alone, he idolized himself, was self-indulgent and never attached himself to a spiritual outlet. He held Kurt Cobain's suicidal philosophy that, "It's better to burn out than to fade away." And he did. So here is a convoluted sentence for you: Esau was not what he used to be even while he still was what he was. For every second in all of our lives we are continuously diminishing unless we are bringing light to the world and enriching not only our own souls but the universal soul. And conversely, even though the burning bush was enveloped in fire, it was not consumed, it did not burn out, because when we attach ourselves to God's will and live beyond all the ephemeral things we think make us who we are, we get better every day, not worse. Yes, all the other things we cling to in life are false gods and duplicitous lovers, including our ambitions, our talents, our beauty, our health, etc. In our heyday they may "love us" and satisfy us, but they will ultimately leave us and crown new and younger heads. What will we be left with then? You have two choices in life: You can lament the loss of what you once were or get busy being and becoming all that you were really meant to be!