TO KEEP SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL IN YOUR HEART
The soul is the natural shelter around your life. If during the course of your life, you have not continually scraped away this shelter, your soul will now gather around you to mind you. To approach your soul and memory with neon analysis can be very destructive, especially in the vulnerability of your old age. You should let your soul be natural. From this perspective old age can be a vulnerable time. Many people as they age get very worried and anxious. It is precisely in difficult and vulnerable times that you really have to mind your self. I love the idea of Blaise Pascal that, in difficult times, you should always keep something beautiful in your heart. Perhaps, as a poet said, it is beauty that will save us in the end.
How you view your future actually shapes it. In other words, expectation helps create the future. Many of our troubles do not belong to us. They are troubles we draw upon us through our gloomy attitude. There is a friend of mine from Cork who lived near an old woman called Mary who had a notoriously negative and gloomy outlok on everything. She always had the 'bad word'. A neighbour met her one beautiful May morning. The sun was shining, flowers were out and nature looked as if it wanted to dance. He said to her, 'God, isn't it a beautiful morning, Mary?' Her reply was, 'I know sure, but what about tomorrow?' She was not able to enjoy the actual presence of beauty around her because she was already troubled by how awful tomorrow was going to be. Troubles are not just constellations of the soul or consciousness; frequently, they are actually in spirit form. Perhaps there are little crowds of miseries flying along through the air. Then, they look down and see you gloomy and miserable. They imagine if they come down they might be able to lodge for a week or a few months or even a year. If you let your own natural shelter down, these miseries can come in and take up tenancy in different places of your mind. The longer you leave them there, the harder it will be to evict them in the end. Natural wisdom seems to suggest that the way you are towards your life is the way your life will be towards you. To have an attitude which is compassionate and hopeful brings home to you the things you really need.
Old age is a time of second innocence. There is the first innocence when we are children; but that innoncence is based on naive trust and ignorance. The second innocence comes later in your life when you have lived deeply. You know the bleakness of life, you know its incredible capacity to disappoint and sometimes destroy. Yet, notwithstanding that realistic recognition of life's negative potential, you still maintain an outlook which is wholesome and hopeful and bright. That is a kind of second innocence. It is lovely to meet an old person whose face is deeply lined, a face that has been deeply inhabited, to look in the eyes and find light there. That light is innocent; it is not inexperienced, but rather is innocent in its trust in the good and the true and the beautiful. Such a gaze from an old face is a kind of blessing. You feel good and wholesome in that kind of company.