Life can be broken up into quarters, such as infancy, youth, maturity & old age. But there’s also another four other stages in life: The 4 Stages of Acquisition.
1) First you learn to acquire things, including family and friends.
2) Then you start acquiring, searching for happiness.
3) Then you spend your time protecting what you acquired through labor and love.
4) Then you let it go.
In my opinion, the toughest, hardest is the last. It includes family and friends. It includes the death or loss of a loved one. It can be a human child. It can be a pet of yours. By the time I was 16 or so my brother and I used to say: “They always go in the end”. But I knew this at 13, forming ‘the Machine’ to protect my inner child, my teenager in the bud. It was part of a military career child’s perspective, one that many learn. And it’s one of the hardest lessons to learn. That nothing is permanent, nothing guaranteed.
“We are like dust in the wind, my friend,” my friend patiently explained to me. We were high, smoking dope, and I couldn’t help but agree. This was about the time that song came out . . .
Over time I’ve learned that’s more than true. And according to the decision I made back when I decided “I’m going to pursue happiness through changes in my perceptions,” I have to learn to be fine with that. Learning to let things go – including people in my life.
I’ve already had a heavy enough taste in that during my long years. In one situation I lost over 76 of my friends – old Lodge Fellows, over a number of years. Plus the friends in life. We moved around so much I couldn’t hang onto them – but I’ve got a few. Friends I could count on in the old times; today? Not so much, truth to tell.
But in the end you go about facing your own life, facing the end. I know I saw plenty of that among the men in the VA. I’ve seen guys in their seventies, bitchin’ and griping about their shortness of life. Then I’ve met others who’ve seen it all, and are done with it. They are happy to move on.
I’ve come close to dying a time or two or three. One time I remember laying there – underwater – thinking about all the things I’d done and left undone. It was the undone ones that hurt me the most. I thought about that book I wrote – because it was in it’s birthing stages. It was the one I began to write when I was 17, 24, and on. There, that last emotion before the peace sets in.
Learning to let go of it is not hard, not there at the end. It comes naturally. But before that peace sets in – well, you don’t want to feel regrets.
Laying there underwater, deciding whether to go on or give in, I decided – and made a final thrashing effort to find my life – water rose above my head, I managed to snatch a breath and slog it to the shore, crawling . . . crawling along because I was a Marine . . .
And I knew I wanted to complete that thing, and I did.
But the thing was . . .
I never forgot that feeling, that sadness, that . . . regret – and how it spurred me on.
One thing I’ve learned is that it’s good if you can get some kind of religion. As that same patient person once again explained: “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you believe something . . .”
It helps there, at the end, and it helps when you lose loved ones and friends.
Personally I subscribe a bit to the philosophy that as long as you keep a version of them alive in your heart . . .
that perhaps you can keep a portion of that person alive inside you by doing that; perhaps breeding a new soul in you. (After all, I’m DID, and it makes sense.)
That maybe they are never dead and have just moved on . . .
and that all those friends you’ve never heard from in all those long years are still alive and kicking somewhere . . . under the same moon as you, or a different one somewhere . . .
Those kinds of things.
Death and loss are a hard thing to face, but that’s the rule and law of the 4 Stages of Acquisition. Sooner or later you are going to have to face it. Either by moving into a nursing home and losing all of your stuff, or moving into one of your children’s and giving up most your stuff . . .
Sooner or later you’re gonna be laying there dying, and you’re gonna have to think about it – letting go of your life.
I hope you can have a fun time doing it.
Live your life well, and to the fullest that you can. Make sure you go to your grave with no regrets, no one whom you’ve loved that you’ve left it unsaid. Give those hugs out while you can; gather the people around you. And make sure your do your stuff – pursue your dreams and all that. Make that extra effort to find happiness in and around you.
And take it from me – chances are, if you’ve lived a good life, you will find peace there at the end.