Wisdom and age

From NRO’s Corner:

I was golfing with my brother once and the starter was a nasty old retired man. Just a real jerk. Anyway, as we walked away from him my brother offered true words of wisdom. He said, “You know, everyone reaches a point in their life when they know they’re old. They know they don’t have that much time left. And at that point, they face a decision. I’ve seen it time and time again. Some seem to make a conscious decision to be happy for the rest of their lives, and the rest become increasingly bitter. That guy chose to be bitter.”

This is true. I’ve been disappointed to see some of the elders of my acquaintance choose the bitter path, especially since it seems so unnecessary and self-destructive. In a world where the poorest American is better off than 99.99 percent of everyone who has ever lived throughout history, I fail to understand how and why this sort of behavior is so ensnaringly addictive.

Now, I am about as cynical and skeptical as they come. But I’m not bitter. There is too much that I love, too much in which I am interested and too much hope and joy to be found in the world to leave much room for bitterness. There are things that I dislike with which I am forced to deal with and/or accept, some of them quite intensely. But they are what they are, and allowing those things to mar one’s enjoyment of everything else is simply foolish.