There are numerous stages to a life. Among those are, as I’ve discovered by living (and a fondness for Star Trek – I got the title for this from the Ferengi ). This is a class of “Life Lessons” and “Life Laws” – something everyone goes through, and in the end, must obey.
The Rules of Acquisition
- “Learning to Acquire”
This stage starts when you are born – from your first cry to get fed, to growing up and going to school; learning your local language, and how to behave towards those around you. In THIS stage YOU learn to get the things you need and think you want to acquire. (Study well! Rhis stage sets you up for failure or success in the 2nd.)
- “Acquiring Things”
THIS is the stage begun in the previous stage with one exception: YOU are expected to acquire things and NOT expect them to be given. This means working for a living, getting a family and house (if that’s what you want). It might also mean acquiring MORE learning to increase your acquisition methods and means. (That means “keep going to school” – get more documented certificates and diplomas because those you can trade to have more acquisition power!)
Most people get stuck in this stage, by the way, and never know when to move on. “Enough is enough” is a phrase people often use, but most can’t seem to live by.
- “Keeping What You’ve Acquired”
This stage of life usually occurs during middle age, though many begin sooner by hanging onto what they’ve gotten during Stage 1 and 2: childhood toys, sweethearts, and friends; the family that you’ve raised – feeding that bank account against emergencies, paying taxes on it all (so the government doesn’t come and take it all away).
- “Letting Go”
This is the Stage most people have difficulty with from the very beginning – from sharing that toy with another child to moving to losing all your knowledge (Alzheimer’s) and moving to a nursing home: we all resist giving up everything we’ve acquired through our lifetime. But the fact is we ALL have to, and in the end you lose the only thing you were truly given:
When I was 16 I decided to do a life long study on “old age”. Why? Because while working as a volunteer at the local VA I noticed two groups of people: The “Sour Dour Crowd” – and dear old “Smoking Joe”. Of the two groups, the first one was much larger. You could identify them because they were the ones that sat in a group (usually around a cafeteria table) griping and complaining, pointing out their various issues and upcoming medical procedures. Not one happy word or thought could be found among them, unless it was getting out of there – and even then they were endlessly pessimistic about it, and their future.
“Smoking Joe”, however, was usually a singular person and you’d usually find him in his wheelchair in the lobby hoping someone would take him outside so he could “smoke one” and maybe talk to you – IF you were willing.
There he’d sit, piss bag and poop bag all hooked up, maybe an IV line or two, a gentle smile on his face – he’d grin when someone walked by. Never a mean word, NOR a discussion of his illnesses or problems that had brought him here. It was as if he didn’t care. He just wanted to enjoy the day, perhaps talk with some people, and get outside and smoke that cigarette he was craving. Not that he griped about it. He was always fun and pleasant to be around – even the nurses liked him! – unlike the Sour & Dour Crowd that just kept on complaining.
“I want to be like smokin’ Joe!,” I thought and decided. And I told my friends some of my goals, and this one related to that.
“I am going to study old people,” I told my young and mostly wild peers (and I was wilder than most of them). “I want to learn how and why they think what they do, how they do.”
“Why?” they would ask, “Let’s go out and party!” (without a thought about what lay ahead in their future). So I would tell them:
“If I can achieve the mental maturity of an 80 year old by the time I’m 24 or so,” I’d tell them, “Then just think where I’ll be in terms of mental maturity when I get older, like them! I’ll be so much further ahead it’ll be like I’m 100 by the time I’m 40 or so!”
And so I started, joining a group of old men (Washington Lodge #7, Independent Order of Odd Fellows – of course! LOL!) – and studied them.
And those Laws of Acquistion were one of the things I learned, and I learned the most important one was #4 – Learning To Let Go Of Things. For when you’ve mastered that you’ve mastered a part of the Art of Life and LIVING: how to not treasure the things you have TOO much, for it is very certain you’re going to lose them down the road.
That is something I had learned by the time I was 13 years old, having lost so many friends, being away from family, and living a military career despite – and because I was an Army dependent.
So learn not to love those things you cherish TOO much or else you might be devastated when you lose them: your health, your body, abilities, eyesight; friends, children gone, deaths among friends in family.
And remember in the end you’re going to lose the one thing you’ve always had:
Avoid the grief you might face by learning how to let go – of it all – while treasuring what you have, but not loving it so much that you lose yourself, becoming one of the Sour Dour Crowd when you reach old age, and eventually your death bed.