Raging Against the Night

Hank Mattimore
Reproduced with Permission

I picked up an old movie poster of the film Casablanca at a flea market last week for one dollar. Such a deal! Placed strategically over the toilet in my bathroom, I can be a multi-tasker, viewing the rugged face of Humphrey Bogart and the beautiful Ingrid Bergman as I go about my business. Other names and faces from this classic flick captured my interest. There’s Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre and Claude Rains. I shake the cobwebs from my memory. Haven’t heard those names for a while but, my gosh, weren’t they great?

Where are they now? I know the answer already. Yesterday’s heroes and heroines are gone and largely forgotten. How sad! But that’s just the way it is. Was it in MacBeth we hear the words?

“Out, out brief candle. Life’s but a walking shadow.
A poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more.
A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

I’ve never believed that life, no matter how brief or ordinary signifies nothing. That’s where the bard and I part company. But, as to the brevity of life, I can’t disagree with Shakespeare. Whether our life span encompasses two years or a hundred, it is always too short.

We seem to reach a point in our lives (Is it 40? 50? 60?) when even those long, languid days of summer don’t seem to last as long, when the years morph into decades. We wake up one morning and find earnest young men addressing us as “Sir” or “Madam” and we see disbelief (or is it awe?) in the eyes of our grandchildren when they find out we didn’t have television when we were kids. Good grief Charley Brown! We’re old.

Faced with our own aging, some of us run from it as fast as we can. We call ourselves “middle aged” even though we are looking back on 70. We haunt the fitness centers pushing those aging bodies to perform the way they once did. Those who have a few bucks have their wrinkles and age spots removed, the hairs on their heads nicely tinted, tummies sucked and tucked. See? The disguise is complete. Alas! We kid ourselves. We only rage against the night.

Now, the truth is we don’t really have to see old age as the enemy. We can be smarter than that. Let the folks who chase a lost youth grit their teeth and agonize over their lot. We have some living to do, some jokes to tell, some hugs and smiles to share.

We can turn things around for ourselves, change our “tude,” Heck yea, we can use the brains God has given us to embrace a whole new way of looking at the last third of our lives. Embracing our todays and being grateful for the life we have, is not a bad place to start. If we are smart enough, by damn, we might try being grateful for the time we did have with our parents or the friends who graced our lives rather than feeling sorry for ourselves that they are no longer with us. We could also make it a point to seek out the company of people of any age who are living and growing and excited about life and avoid like a scorpion those who spend their hours mourning about what might have been. Time is way too short for that. Don’t you think?