Saturday, January 14, 2006

Loss

Continual loss is a fact of life. That sounds really harsh, but it's true. From the day you are born, you begin to leave innocence and youth behind. When we are young, the loss has some very powerful compensations. Wisdom replaces innocence, strength and ability replace youth.

At some point, growth in wisdom tapers off, but it does grow until, perhaps, dementia sets in. Strength begins to decline shortly after you get it unless you work hard to maintain it, in which case you lose time. But those are the gradual losses. We see them coming and they are inevitable. We accept them.

Sudden wrenching loss is inevitable for most of us too. The parent or spouse who dies in an accident or from a heart attack. The swindler who cons us out of our life savings (think Enron).

These wrenching losses change us--even when they happen to someone else. When we hear of a child who is kidnapped while walking to school, we start driving the kids everyday. We lose time, the kids lose exercise and independence and they learn to fear.

And these changes are like a ratchet. Once they happen we seldom go backwards. We learn. But this is a rare case in which learning may not be completely positive. With learning comes the risk of completely losing our youthful spirit.

So a challenge that I put to you is once a day, think about your youthful defiance and determination. Put aside learned fear and stand up for something that is right. Be fearless.

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