Sunday, February 4, 2007

Lemonade Sale

I'm standing in the express lane of my local Safeway. I remark to Lisa, the clerk, that I know I'm growing old based on the sale price of frozen lemonade. How so?, she asks. I tell her that I can easily remember the days when a good sale for generic frozen lemonade was 6 or 7 for $1 (truth be known, I can even remember 10 for $1). Today, to my utter amazement, the bargain price is $1 per can!

Lisa says that it's not necessarily a case of growing old; it's just that prices keep shooting upward. "That's your story?" I ask. She smiles. "It sounds better than to say we're growing old".

But we ARE getting older and, for Lisa, that's not such a good thing. Actually, for most people in our society, growing old is a very bad thing indeed.

There's no question that, the older one gets, your metabolism and energy level seem to slow down. The skin loses its soft sheen and wrinkles appear. And we all tend to lose the feeling of immortality.

Yet, for all these supposed negatives, there is one all powerful positive in the aging process -- wisdom. If we've paid any attention to our choices and actions over our lifetime, the older we grow, the wiser we should become.

In my book, that's a most magnificent perk to growing old.

When we're young, we too often take unnecessary chances and risks. We make foolish mistakes and grievous miscalculations. We often treat life too flippantly because, heck, we can possibly try to rectify the situation at a later date. Why should we care? Hey, we're going to live forever.

As we age and mature, we come face to face with our own mortality. If we've paid attention to the world around us, we come to understand that all life moves in cycles from birth to death to rebirth, etc.

And this is a central concept in Taoism, that all life -- no matter its outward shape or form -- follows the same cycle. Whether we speak of a Homo sapien, dog, butterfly, daffodil or rock, we all travel between birth to death and back again.

When we are younger, we may understand this principle rationally. When we are older, wisdom allows us to understand this cycle intuitively.

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