Live Forwards but Look Back.
In 1844 Søren Kierkegaard wrote “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” So if you are looking to make sense of what is happening in your life right now – wait a bit longer! We live every day in the light of what has happened in our life so far, but often make decision in the dark, about which way to go. It is a fact of life, that a decision made today, can change the direction of your whole life profoundly. The most innocuous thing like single phone call, a chance meeting, a missed appointment, all have the potential to be truly life-changing in their implications – yet at the time seem trivial.
Critical moments have profound effects.
I can point to many critical moments in my life, but the one that’s front of mind, is when on the whim of a passing moment, my dad, acting out of character, brought a newspaper which led directly to my first career. That was a long time ago now, but the truth is, a simple decision can have a long lasting effect. As you probably know, not all decisions turn out as positively as my dad’s decision. Sometimes they lead to years of trouble or broken relationships of even jail time.
It seems to me that’s why we ought to put our lives into the hands of a loving God because He knows the future even if you don’t! The bible says “remember your creator in the days of your youth.” I guess God knows that we tend to make more serious mistakes as young men than we do as older men who can look back and understand things better.
But even if you are not young anymore, each decision you make, can still have serious consequences. Maybe for you, the decision to retire, move away from family and friends, was one such decision. Now you look at your life and think “Why did I do that?” Sure I live in a nicer place, but loneliness and depression are close companions ever day. If you are struggling in this area of life, get help and get help now. Men are allowed to hurt and allowed to feel sad but sometimes we need help to get through our problems. So find a way to fix your broken social networks. Go to the nearest men’s shed, find your local church, join the gym’s seniors programs. There are many options but they won’t come marching through your door – you will have to go out and find them.
What am I here for?
The other issue for men who have retired is, “what on earth am I here for?” Of course this issue is faced my men of all ages but as a retired bloke you have more time to try and work things out. Once your work provided a partial answer but not any more. Kierkegaard again said “Alas, time comes and time goes, it subtracts little by little; then it deprives a person of a good, the loss of which he indeed feels, and his pain is great.”
It seems to me that we ought to try and live our lives to the full, before we get to the point where time “deprives us of good” in our lives. How long that will be, we cant tell so the sooner you start the better. So maybe today is the day to discover your purpose in life. And don’t let anybody tell you your too old.
You’re not too old!
The man that invented KFC – Colonel Harland Sanders, was 62 years of age when the state highway was moved to bypass his popular chicken shop. So he began his franchise operation. He eventually sold out when he was 74 years of age. That turned out rather well!
Ronald Regan was elected the 40th president of the USA just before his 70th birthday. Donald Trump is over 70 years of age. John McEwen was 67 years of age, Billy McMahon was 63 years when they were elected Prime Minister of Australia and our former Prime minister (Malcolm Turnbull – if that hasn’t changed this week) was over 60 when he started his first term. I won’t comment about how well those things turned out!
Peter Roget retired in 1840, and about 1848, began preparing for publication the one book that was to live on beyond him. This was a catalogue of words organized by their meanings. The first printed edition, in 1852, was called Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases Classified and Arranged so as to Facilitate the Expression of Ideas and Assist in Literary Composition. He was 73 years of age when it was first published and edited every edition until he died at 90. Theres a word for that!
Warren Buffett is currently around 83 years of age and first became a billionaire in his late 50’s. Of course there are exceptions, but the truth is, many men of your age have done significant things in their later years. So friends don’t waste the final quarter of your life playing golf for no purpose, or travelling until you are sick of it or eating drinking and being merry then crying yourself to sleep at night! There are great things you can do with your time! And there are different seasons in life.
The Bible says in Ecclesiastes (and the seekers sang)
- 3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
- time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
- a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
- a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
- a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
- a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
- a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
- a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
There is, it seems, a time for everything. This is your time right now. If you are still breathing, God still has something for you to achieve. You will never have today again. So find your purpose and passion and for the sake of the world, just do it.