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"Fear, What We Dwell On, What Can Pass"
Although being punctual is my preference, there are times when tardiness simply cannot be prevented. Walking through a brightly lit atrium into a dimly lit, musty hallway and being greeted by the image of an old woman reminded me of my tardiness. The movie had already started and everyone was seated - except us. As we tuned into what the mature woman was communicating, I felt as though I was peeping through a 1940’s keyhole into another life. For the next 40 minutes I would be treated to what life in the “Kings Point” retirement community (with two convenient South Florida locations) is all about.
As my first impressions about old age and senior living passed, I was able to enjoy a heartfelt, thought provoking eye-opening series of short stories woven into the fabric of the evening. Managing isolation and loneliness seemed to have a substantial role amongst the King’s Point residents. Surprise did too...
When Frank, one of the residents was being interviewed about Love, Intimacy and Connection, a deep sense sorrow he fostered became painfully apparent. With slumped shoulders, a full head of white hair and sad eyes he expressed his unyielding desire for affection, closeness and real love. White walls, a faded pinstripe couch and a couple small pictures with thin metal frames created the backdrop as he shared pain from deep within.
Even though his late wife had passed years ago, Frank was scarred by the burden of laying a life partner to rest. Despite the growing intimacy between himself and another resident 9 years his senior, Bea, Frank had cold feet. Cold feet and a heavy heart. Although he professed his deep love for Bea, he couldn’t bear losing (and burying) another wife. For that reason he chose loneliness. Frank was interested in meeting a younger woman whom he wouldn’t have to accompany in death. What he wanted was a woman who would be there to bury him...
Dressed in flowing white, Bea couldn’t have been a kinder soul. Elegant hand gestures complimented her elegant jewelry and demeanor as she shared her woes about falling in love. Of course she wanted to experience something deeper than what appears to be on the surface of mundane day-to-day life. However, there’s always the risk of getting hurt. As she told her story about love, caring and intimacy tears welled in her eyes. She rationed that love can be more than going to bed with someone. She simply couldn’t conceal powerful feelings towards Frank, yet shrouded with the fear of being hurt, a thin veil appeared to separate Bea from that which she desired.
Next there was Molly, whose frail, perfectly dressed and manicured being resembled that of a delicate porcelain doll. Not a grey hair on her head was out of place. Her lips wore a pale shade of pink and gold pearl earrings adorned her wrinkled facial features. If one looked close a slight halo of light could be seen within her pale blue eyes. In hushed somber tones accompanied by a slight bodily twitch Molly shared.
She had been living in Florida for the past 30 years. In what seemed to be a contemplative explanation, Molly discussed “home” and family. Although King’s Point had been home, she felt alone. So very alone. Yet, she would simply be a burden if she were to go home to New York. She did not want her problems to become her family’s problems. Additionally, she didn’t care to hear the other residents’ problems. She had her own issues and seemed offended that a neighbor should burden her with their troubles. I wondered how she spent her days...
Then there was Gurt, with short blondish hair, a thick belly, sunglasses and a smile. Gurt seemed completely at ease with the interview, her apartment and life in general. Gurt made no bones about it, she was happy being alone. She took care of herself without hesitation and enjoyed the simplicity of her life. Directly outside there were beautiful Royal Palm trees, a golf course and canal. Inside of her relaxed apartment was a comfortable couch and air of freedom. Watching television provided her plenty of entertainment, to which she chuckled often.
As I was watching I couldn’t help but to allow for a stream of thought - a stream of curiosity to flow through my mind. When it came to Frank and Bea, I found their stances puzzling. Pretty safe, although still an assumption - they were both close to their human expiration date, so why the fear? Frank was so consumed with his aversion to burying another loved one that love was forsaken? The fear of potential loss was so great that it warranted living out the rest of your life in a constant state of unresolve and desire for something you’re too fearful to pursue? Wouldn’t experiencing the most fulfilling love of your life, even if it were only for a month be more fulfilling and complete than dying without the experience? Why pray and cry for something when there is too much fear to receive that which you want the most?
Then for Molly. What did she gain by carrying such a heavy burden through life? She was lonely, isolated and homesick. Not only that, she was frail and didn’t seem to have a lot of time left in her account. Why would a person, especially coming to the end of a journey, hold onto such discomfort? The sum total of her thoughts had worn through a youthful body and became more obvious with every second passed. What if Molly chose to be light-hearted and happy? At that (or any) point, is there any real benefits to not being?
As the documentary concluded a revealing epilogue provided a useful conclusion to an aspect of life many of us choose not to think about. Frank had died. He did not have to go through the pain of burying another wife, as it was Bea that was by his side for his last breath. Molly moved to New York to be with her family. Two weeks later she concluded her Earthly journey. Gurt was still alive and doing well.
The questions I was left with however, why put off for tomorrow what can be done now? The journey you are experiencing will come to an end at some point - for all of us. Why hold onto the same fears day after day when we are conscious of our fleeting time here? The final question I had - Is the way we collectively go about life bringing us (humanity) together, or dividing us even more? As for now, I dream of a beautiful tomorrow and live for today! Moment by moment.
About the author:
Paul shares Alignment Science and is available for Speaking Engagements. http://www.alignmentscience.com