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  • Writer's pictureDoug Weiss

Stolen Fruit

I am of the age –or will be shortly that a friend waggishly described as entering the final quarter. Whether I make it or not through the entirety remains to be seen. My maternal grandmother and her sister both lived beyond a century, so it isn’t entirely out of the question, but I do feel my age from time to time, especially after a day of hard physical work.

I try to do those things that will help me age gracefully, eat foods that are good for me, work out at the gym with heavy weights and cardio. You’d think I’d be in great shape, but gravity and aging muscles are unforgiving—and I wake up each day with an inventory of aches and sores that take an hour or so to forget, just to repeat it all the next day. I am no different than many, but I am not complaining.

When I am tempted to grouse about these minor pains I am quickly reminded of how trivial they are. There are those who come to the gym every day, afflicted with CP, severe scoliosis, tremors, shuffling walks and sundry other challenges. They show up, and they do the work without complaint. So why do these real heroes do this? I’ve asked—especially those who have to make real sacrifices to try to hold back the tide of decrepitude and the answer is always the same. Life is sweet. Didn’t see that coming did you? Despite all the afflictions, and the aftermath when you pay the price of the abuse you’ve incurred, every one of the men and women I asked were of the same mind—that life was precious and good and worth it.

It begs a question, are these folks just naturally optimistic, positive people? After all they have legitimate reasons to feel unhappy, bitter, or sad. But they don’t—not these folks. I suspect that it’s the people who’ve given up, no longer work for every good moment that are bitter. It isn’t the physical part but the mental toughness that tells the difference. Giving up, giving in, is easy.

Now I want to be clear that I do not count myself in this equation. Thankfully I am still able to do everything I want without much compromise and all it requires of me is will power. The people I admire are the ones who must push themselves well beyond the limit. Thanks to modern medicine, better food, working conditions and a host of other improvements, we live longer in general than our grandparents’ generation did. But what is the point of this extended lifespan if there is no joy, nothing to savor?

One might well ask which came first—the positivity or the commitment. I think it is the sheer feistiness, the palpable hunger for life’s ever changing, ever fascinating and fulfilling possibilities that drives those who put in the effort and do the work and their reward is time. The proverb tells us that stolen fruit is the sweetest. Every day is a gift of course—that’s what time means. But when you love life, stealing another day, another month a few more years is worth the pain. Donna Goddard wrote “We all want sweetness, beauty, harmony, exhilaration, and happiness in our lives. Don’t search for it, endlessly and fruitlessly, in other people and circumstances. Become it yourself. Become it with total commitment and in full force.”

That my friends is the secret—become the life you wish for. Do it with total commitment and in full force every day without quarter. Do not give up, do not give in—show up and do the work and the rest will take care of itself.

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