Learning to Live With Yourself

The drive home tonight was made infinitely more enjoyable by an NPR interview with a legend I only barely recall from my younger days: Merle Haggard. At age 70, he’s got a new disk, a bluegrass sound this time around, and the sand and wisdom of years in his voice.

The interview was a breath of fresh air in the midst of campaign coverage, and I encourage you to check it out here. If you’ve got the connection for it, click Listen Now. It’s so much better, funnier, and more musical (not to mention quite a bit longer) live.

It got me thinking: first, about my last post, and his favorite song of the new batch, “Learning to Live With Myself.” Sounds like it’s a lifelong journey.

And second, about the notion of “growing old gracefully.” Too often our culture seems ashamed of our aging population; consequently, sometime older folks are embarrassed or ashamed to slow down or show infirmity.

But I remember Dad’s old friend Louie Randall, who spoke in a wheezing whisper through a hole in his windpipe and swung a three-pound sledge like it was a meat tenderizer well into his 70s. And I recall the the first time I saw Johnny Cash’s hauntingly beautiful video rendition of Nine Inch Nail’s “Hurt”—gazing into the camera, frail and unapologetic. And I remember Pope John Paul II, hunched and trembling, waving off his aides (dare I say irritably?) to give hope to hundreds of thousands of young people from around the world. They didn’t turn away, but loved him for it.

And I hope that I one day I’ll be every bit as weathered and white and tough as these old men. In this life of ease and plenty, however, it seems unlikely.

One thought on “Learning to Live With Yourself

  1. Pingback: Motherland of Mercy, Part III: Pope St. John Paul II | Archangel Stomp

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