It Gets Harder In Advancing Years
It gets harder, that is, to show compassion, at least to people in the abstract as opposed to your family and friends. It is as if there were a limited reservoir of compassion, and you want to save some for yourself and your demographic cohort as you see the world becoming more indifferent by the day to both. Perhaps this helps to explain why there are so many cranks and curmudgeons about, especially among men of a certain age.
But if you sift through the cranks and curmudgeons, you will come upon the occasional prophet or seer. Listen to every Wild Man and every Wild Woman who stalks you on the streets of Boston and from time to time a greater truth will be spoken than is ever heard in the Controlling Narrative. Think of Howard Beale in the movie "Network," who was mad as hell and not willing to take it any more when the rest were sleepwalking to their doom.
It is unseemly, however, to be dragged off the screen while shaking your fist at the world.
The old soft shoe Stage Left, as practiced by Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly and Maurice Chevalier (he whose signature tune seemed to thinly mask a smiling pedophilia) is equally unsatisfactory, as ill reflective of the gravity of the situation.
My late best friend. He radiated compassion in his ready smile and in his laughter, shared equally with all it seemed. But in the end, the last month or two, and as if with the turning of a switch, the smile and the laughter disappeared from his repertory. It was shocking when it happened because they seemed in many ways to define his persona.
And thus he taught us a last lesson, of gravity equal to the majesty of the moment, but without bitterness, indeed, "with malice toward none."
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