When we lived in Alabama, I spent several hours a month at the library at the University of North Alabama. Generally, I would spend part of that time skimming through the Sunday editions of the London Times and The New York Times. Then I skimmed through a dozen or so of the most recent issues of popular magazines. I was looking for themes, intriguing titles, and most anything that for some reason seemed interesting. Some of these themes were found in articles. I saw other themes in advertisements. I either made notes of these themes and ideas or copied entire articles. Often, I would glance at the table of contents of a few journals (usually in the area of the social sciences) looking for certain themes or common threads.
I began this practice because I found it was stimulating. I came away from the library those afternoons with seed thoughts, questions, and a theme or two that had my interest. It was a good exercise for my mind.
My body needs regular exercise but so does my mind. Yet, there are men and women who shut down long before their physical death. I remember once visiting in the home of a couple who were in their mid-sixties. There was something eerie about their house. It was as if time had stopped a few decades earlier. The furnishings, the pictures, everything about the house seemed to stop when their children finished college. (That had been at least fifteen years earlier.) To hear them talk, it was as if they had experienced the best years of their life and so now life was basically over.
- Why is it that some 70-year-old people seem so alive while some 40-year-old people live in their recliners, mindlessly starring at the TV for hours and hours?
- Why is it that some women laugh and enjoy life while their husbands seem miserable (and vice versa)?
- Why is it that some adults continue to audit classes at the community college while others seem to have no interest in learning anything new?
- Why is it that some people in their 40s and 50s constantly talk about being "old" while some 60-year-old people seem energetic and full of life?
- Why is it that some men and women seem to ask so few questions?
- Why is it that some people continue to exercise and stay in good physical condition while others just let themselves go?
- Why is it that some people have no interest in learning anything new? Meanwhile, others seem to come alive with curiosity when they are in new territory.
I do not talk about "getting old." On the other hand, I’m not trying to act as if I were younger than I am. (No red sports car. No new wife. No radical change in dress.) You’ve seen these men and women. They have looked in the mirror and seem desperate to stay young.
What I would rather do is stay fully alive. Alive even with an imperfect body. Alive even with a changing landscape. Alive even when there might be physical limitations. After all, as a Christian, I have the very life of Christ in me through his Spirit.
As a human being, created by God, I want to be a good steward of all that is my life, for the remainder of my life. I want to be a good steward of my time, my money, my body, and my mind. In essence, I want to remain fully alive.
Have you noticed in your world the people who shut down long before their physical death? Is there anything you do to help you remain fully alive?