Life and indifference do not mix. At least, life the way it is meant to be. At any year’s end, looking back prompts many thoughts, memories, smiles, frowns and regrets. And tangible gratitude. Of course, out of that mix, looking ahead, come resolutions. But they are not the subject of my thinking.
Moving on into a new year, particularly an election year, has its hesitancies and excitements. What is happening in today’s world is our own doing and we cannot afford to be indifferent to any part of it.
To love our country and to hate its shortcomings is not the issue. Both feelings presume a caring perspective. Love and hate are not opposites; they are workplaces for making what is good better and what is bad less so. Indifference is the opposite of both and short-circuits the process.
Indifference is defined as a lack of interest or concern. Synonyms are listlessness, absence of any feeling and apathy. Something gets shut down in one’s perception of life that causes them not to care or be involved. It seems beyond a feeling of powerlessness since that can present its own challenges – of which indifference has none.
What is behind my concern is an insight I bumped into when I turned 80 a few months back. Someone asked how I was feeling about that. I answered, “Grateful and wistful.” Grateful for so many pieces of my life and still being here; wistful because “The world belongs to others now. I have had my time, my chance,” I heard myself say. And it sounded like I was giving up.
Not so. Like Ulysses in Tennyson’s classic poem, I intend to “drink life to the lees.” It is too precious a gift to ignore or set aside and not try to make the most of it. This year, more than others, strengthens that resolve. Blame it on my being – though not feeling like – an octogenarian.
The year ahead feels unmanageable from many perspectives, but only when I slip out of focusing on the here and now…which is fragile enough these days. Or when I choose to be fearful of what might be, rather than grateful for what is, even as it is.
Time, like life itself, is precious. The challenges of the year(s) ahead render indifference unacceptable. Tennyson had it right, saying,
“How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!
As tho’ to breathe were life.”
A happy, involved New Year to one and all.