It may be because fall has arrived; I don’t know. For whatever reason, I am haunted. Perhaps the fall is a metaphor for my life. In ancient times, the Chinese venerated the elderly. The older generation was seen as wise and knowledgeable. Interestingly, their intelligence wasn’t genetic. Their wisdom came from mistakes in their lives that they addressed. Learning from mistakes is a great teacher.
In less than a couple of months, I’ll be an octogenarian, which in the olden day in China, I did be honored for my wisdom. Fortunately, I learned from some of my many past mistakes. My hauntings caused me to reflect on the past but also on the future. I’m haunted by what is in my future. I can’t predict the future. All that I do know are the things that I still want to accomplish. There is a litany of things on my must-do list. This photo is where I am as I ponder my twilight time.
A part of my hauntings is realizing that my learning from future mistakes will be severely curtailed due to my advancing age. I am cognizant that my clock is ticking louder and louder until it finally stops. The brevity of my remaining time on my journey down the yellow brick road of my life has caused me to think about my mentors. They have been there before me and provided information that I can emulate.
Gilgamesh lived 5,000 years ago. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, he lost a good friend of his by the name of Enkidu. Interestingly, Enkidu was a strange person who lived much of his life among animals. When Enkidu died, Gilgamesh lost his best friend. That loss woke him up to the reality that we aren’t immortal.
I see a parallel between Gilgamesh and me. I am writing this essay on Wednesday, yesterday, I took Ginger, my Irish Setter, to have her teeth cleaned, which meant that she had to be sedated. While all went well during the surgery, I picked her up from the vet, but she was still groggy. The vet told me to wait a couple of hours and slowly give her some water. Then a couple hours later, do the same with some food. It took me six hours before she drank any water. I was scared. Ginger had done the dance with death three times during her life, and that realization added to my haunting about my final dance. I fully understood Gilgamesh’s suffering.
Gilgamesh went on his quest to find immortality. He discovered that immortality wasn’t possible and said, “Forget death and seek life.” Gilgamesh grasped the reality of living life in the now. He lived the remainder of his journey down his yellow brick road of life by doing good and noble things. I learned from Gilgamesh how to live my life.
In my twilight years, I also learned to be a mentor. Gilgamesh reached out and helped others.
It is a strange paradox that, on the one hand, there isn’t immortality. However, on the other hand, being a mentor to others will give you immortality by being remembered by those you helped. The world has known Gilgamesh for 5,000 years.
I came up with this saying, which is also another paradox. It is in giving that we get.