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Seeking Newer Worlds

  As I look westward from the hillside above Plum Lick Creek on the last month of the 20th century, I wonder about this “last” business, this thing about ringing down history-making curtains.

Closure is a cleansing idea, but staying alive is a Travolta song giving feet something to dance about.

All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players:

They have their exits and their entrances…

Yes, dear Shakespeare, but there has to be more than this, more than your “seven ages.” If there is no hope, then we surely must create it from within our own God-given imaginations.

Life is real! Life is earnest!

And the grave is not its goal;

Dust thou art, to dust returnest

Was not spoken of the soul.

Thank you, mellow Longfellow, worthy companion as we stop carefully along the creek banks of immortality. To be sad, to be gloomy, to be fearful, heavy-hearted, and forlorn is to ignore the simple song of the birds in our water maples.

Listen! The mighty Being is awake,

And doth with his eternal motion make

A sound like thunder-everlastingly.

  Ah, Wordsworth, gentle friend, help me to save this December of my life and come with me into the new millennium of all I yearn for.

In the October of my autumn, I moderated a community forum: Kentucky General Assembly 2000-Legislation for Seniors in Kentucky.

  Yes, we talked about retiring baby boomers by the bushelful, whether or not to dip into the Social Security fund, the high percentage of us who spend our last days in nursing homes, prescription drug issues, slot machines, and video lottery terminals.

  What to do? Well, the next morning I turned to Shakespeare, Longfellow, and Wordsworth, but then more importantly I turned to my self of selves.

  Did I pray? Yes, I did. But I did not go pleading for quick, easy fixes. In the last month of the last year of the 20th century (Gregorian calendar-Christians should acknowledge the presence of the Jewish and Moslem calendars), I am warming up for new possibilities, new parts to play.

  When was the last time I really visited a nursing home? I mean, did more than walk in, check the room number, go to the person of yesteryear, and say more than, “Hello. How are you? I’m fine. Wish I could stay longer. Have to go. See you next time.”

  When was the last time I made an appointment to sit down with my elected legislator (Frankfort would be a good place to begin) and spend 15 minutes explaining how important I believe it is to fund just one of the AARP’s Kentucky Legislative Goals for 2000, the Kentucky Health Insurance reform statute, the “protection of consumers from abuse and fraudulent practices”?

  Each day, each one of us is another day older. But that doesn’t mean we have to be increasingly uncaring, indifferent to the plights of others, remorseful about our own late hour.

  Recently, my wife and I were introduced to a woman who this month of December, in no winter of any discontent, is 94 years old. She had just returned from a trip to Iceland (which she said was not as much fun as Antarctica), and she said she was leaving soon for a boat trip up the Snake River (1,038 miles long with a canyon more than 40 miles long and 7,000 feet deep)!

  On the night we saw her, she smiled as she walked out onto the dance floor with confidence that would have made John Travolta’s heart pound.

  So, I’ve written here from my heart for the new century about to begin, recalling the words of many pilgrims, including Alfred, Lord Tennyson:

Come my friends

‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.

Push off, and sitting well in order smite

The sounding furrows…

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