Doing Your Best VI

And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.” ~ Deuteronomy 34:7

No matter how old you are at this moment, you should be in the prime of your life. For many the prime years are too few and too late, relegated to a brief moment in adulthood called the golden years. I believe, however, that you can live and be your best every single year of your life.

I came across this passage from William George Jordan’s book, “The Majesty of Calmness,” which clothed my sentiments on the subject better than I feel I ever could. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did!

One of the most weakening elements in the individual make-up is the surrender to the oncoming of years. Man’s self-confidence dims and dies in the fear of age. “This new thought,” he says of some suggestion tending to higher development, “is good; it is what we need. I am glad to have it for my children; I would have been happy to have had some such help when I was at school, but it is too late for me. I am a man advanced in years.”

This is but blind closing of life to wondrous possibilities. The knell of lost opportunity is never tolled in this life. It is never too late to recognize truth and to live by it. It requires only greater effort, closer attention, deeper consecration; but the impossible does not exist for the man who is self-confident and is willing to pay the price in time and struggle for his success or development. Later in life, the assessments are heavier in progress, as in life insurance, but that matters not to that mighty self-confidence that will not grow old while knowledge can keep it young.

Socrates, when his hair whitened with the snow of age, learned to play on instruments of music. Cato, at fourscore, began his study of Greek, and the same age saw Plutarch beginning, with the enthusiasm of a boy, his first lessons in Latin. The Character of Man, Theophrastus’ greatest work, was begun on his ninetieth birthday. Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales was the work of the poet’s declining years. Ronsard, the father of French poetry, whose sonnets even translation cannot destroy, did not develop his poetic faculty until nearly fifty. Benjamin Franklin at this age had just taken his really first steps of importance in philosophic pursuits. Arnauld, the theologian and sage, translated Josephus in his eightieth year. Winckelmann, one of the most famous writers on classic antiquities, was the son of a shoemaker, and lived in obscurity and ignorance until the prime of life. Hobbes, the English philosopher, published his version of the Odyssey in his eighty-seventh year, and his Iliad one year later. Chevreul, the great French scientist, whose untiring labors in the realm of color have so enriched the world, was busy, keen and active when Death called him, at the age of 103.

These men did not fear age; these few names from the great muster-roll of the famous ones who defied the years, should be voices of hope and heartening to every individual whose courage and confidence is weak. The path of truth, higher living, truer development in every phase of life, is never shut from the individual–until he closes it himself. Let man feel this, believe it and make this faith a real and living factor in his life and there are no limits to his progress. He has but to live his best at all times, and rest calm and untroubled no matter what results come to his efforts. The constant looking backward to what might have been, instead of forward to what may be, is a great weakener of self-confidence. This worry for the old past, this wasted energy, for that which no power in the world can restore, ever lessens the individual’s faith in himself, weakens his efforts to develop himself for the future to the perfection of his possibilities.

Nature in her beautiful love and tenderness, says to man, weakened and worn and weary with the struggle, ‘Do in the best way you can the trifle that is under your hand at this moment; do it in the best spirit of preparation for the future your thought suggests; bring all the light of knowledge from all the past to aid you. Do this and you have done your best. The past is forever closed to you. It is closed forever to you. No worry, no struggle, no suffering, no agony of despair can alter it. It is as much beyond your power as if it were a million years of eternity behind you. Turn all that past, with its sad hours, weakness and sin, its wasted opportunities as light; in confidence and hope, upon the future. Turn it all in fuller truth and light so as to make each trifle of this present a new past it will be joy to look back to; each trifle a grander, nobler, and more perfect preparation for the future. The present and the future you can make from it, is yours; the past has gone back, with all its messages, all its history, all its records to the God who loaned you the golden moments to use in obedience to His law.’

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11 Responses to Doing Your Best VI

  1. Colin says:

    What Jordan portrays here is significant if you are looking to have a meaningful life. He has given the antidote to the mid-life crisis, and to the fear that when you are old you are also obsolete. People are not machines; they are only obsolete when they fail to mature and to change as time advances. An older person might not have the physicality of a youth, but they should have advantages that a young person can’t even imagine. The problem arrives when a man or woman stagnates and stays in the frame of mind where they see physical prowess as more important than the areas they should be focusing on. If you continue to mature throughout life, at an age appropriate pace, you will be able to maintain this usefulness that Jordan references.

  2. Ricardo B. says:

    Reading these words, I can sense the author’s affection towards life and what life means to him. There is so much contained within these few phrases, and I suppose where all this stands on, where I strongly feel as well, is a profound belief in the benevolence of life. When Nature lovingly persuades us to put forth our best efforts in the present, regardless of what events occurred – particularly the sad ones, the trying ones, the ones that wear down your spirit – here is a proclamation of a deep and living connection to life that is powered in love. I don’t know of anything else that can sustain the weight of all the troubles the world is facing today, and speaking individually, the troubles that each and everyone faces. Here we can learn to forgive and move one healthily if that is what is needed, we can pardon the carelessnesses so that the errors can die off and remain in the past and learn as to not repeat them. We can strive be a better person as the natural instinct of one who has a love connection to life. I don’t know of any other way to advance in our years and develop an outlook on life that resembles the shining examples given by Mr. Jordan. Thank you for emphasizing the possibility here, and to point to a way.

  3. Brad says:

    Thank you, Profound!

  4. Lady Leo says:

    I love this excerpt! What a grand view for all men’s lives. No, there is no do-over for the events or opportunities we may have missed the mark on but there is this present moment to hit it. The last line says it so well, “…the past has gone back, with all its messages, all its history, all its records to the God who loaned you the golden moments to use in obedience to His law.’“
    If we’re reading this he’s still loaning “golden moments”. It’s not to late to create a past that sings of your success in obeying His laws and bringing the Angels comfort you are representing them on Earth.

  5. strawberryfields says:

    This is an excellent start to my day, to be sure I give each minute “sixty seconds’ worth of distance run”.
    Thank you Mr.Jordan and Mr.Hake.

  6. David R says:

    Apparently there are about to be more Americans over 65 than those under 5, a trend that has been accelerating, bringing lot of new pressure to bear on attitudes about age. This is true both for those who are considered seniors now and for everyone else as well. Although there are a host of issues around these facts, it seems a central one relates to both conscious and unconscious attitudes about inherent value. Are later years inevitably ‘declining years?’ What are the optimum roles and relationships involving seniors and others?

    Habits of behavior and self-image tend to harden with age, it is true, but there have also been well-established attitudes on the part of younger men and women toward those who are older. Perhaps the pressure of shifting demographics can open the way for some fresh consideration of creative possibility in this new mix of population, even though this is hardly a new issue. I appreciate the timeless light shone on this subject today via your words and those of William George Jordan.

  7. Beth C says:

    What opportunities have been lost? Might I have been wiser? That is still possible. Might I have been kinder? That is still possible. Might I have more fully enjoyed and made use of the “golden moments” given me? That too is still possible. It seems to me that anything that would be truly worthy of regret is actually still possible to be known now and in the days to come. Why waste the “now” in regret and concern for the past only thereby adding to the list of lost opportunity?

  8. Estelle says:

    Wonderful, refreshing post! I take it very much to heart. Thank you!

  9. Aimee says:

    I love this outlook on life! Very inspiring!!

  10. Isabelle says:

    Such amazing wisdom to live by!

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