Years ago I wrote down this thought: Love is a vein of energy that flows in their air like a river, and when you fall into that river you feel the power of a billion suns. It’s quite a line and yet now that I am sixty-something I believe it to be truer than ever.
In the 1960s, a popular theme of many high school English curriculums across the U.S.A included a study of Henry Davis Thoreau’s On Walden Pond, published in 1854. Walden Pond is in Concord, Massachusetts, and Thoreau writes of spending time there getting back to nature and enjoying life most by experiencing existence on its simplest levels. I believe Thoreau and his book played a huge role in my generation’s (and the whole nation’s) quest to “get back to nature!” Eating healthier foods and perhaps the whole concept of the naturally grown food industry comes directly from the aftermath of the study of Thoreau and the American Enlightenment philosophers.
There is a famous story of Thoreau being an anti-war protester against President James Polk’s Mexican-American War in 1846. During a demonstration Thoreau was arrested and put in jail. Ralph Waldo Emerson (author of Self Reliance), who was another but more financially successful American Enlightenment writer and philosopher, was reported to have gone to the jail to bail out his friend and student Henry David Thoreau from the prison. Thoreau, always poor, would not pay the fine. When Emerson arrived at the jail and saw Thoreau behind bars Emerson said, “Henry what are you doing in there?” To which Thoreau replied, “Ralph what are YOU doing out there?”
In my opinion it was the teachings and spirit of such men that helped renew the great American spirit of organized civil disobedience in the 1960s. Mohandas Gandhi and his movement in India perhaps added some zest to the idea of getting out large numbers of citizens and being heard peacefully to cause political and social change.
However this column today is not about changing the whole world but the change of our individual world as we surf through the sixty-something time of our lives. We will have to reinvent ourselves after our careers wind down, after our children and grandchildren mature while dear friends pass away. It is called entering the “golden years.” However, I believe the 20s and 30s to truly be the golden years. What we now have instead of youth is the wisdom a life-long time of experiences; some great others not so great. The end result is I now appreciate things more. These are my “appreciative times.”
So again I go back to love, the four letter word that is the energy that fuels our lives. I fear the newer generation fears exploring openly the magic of committing totally to the powers of love. One must be brave to leap into the unknown not truly knowing how and where they will land. Perhaps they fear how love will affect their career paths and earning possibilities. However taking a chance on love and experiencing its power is the best leap anyone can make. It is never too late nor too soon or ever the wrong time to experience the power of love. There is no real success in life without real love.