My first 75 years: looking back

by on Friday, 24 December 2010 Comments

On October 1, 2007 I will celebrate my 75th birthday. As I look back over these years, I am filled with many feelings. For one thing, the time has gone so fast. The years that looked so far away when I first started out are already far behind me. For another, so many things happened along the way that had not been anticipated, some good, some bad. But overall, I am amazed to still be alive, to still be able to work and play.

And I am overwhelmed with gratitude, first to God whom I kept very busy all the time keeping me sane and safe and satisfied, then to all my family and friends without whose companionship and support I could never have made it. And then there is the wonder of how fortunate I have been! I was never in any airplane that crashed, was far away from every tragedy, no wars or riots ever broke out around me. There has always been a roof over my head, food on my table, bandages in my first aid kit and money in my purse.

And throughout it all, all those things that seemed at the time senseless and out of place and wicked and undesirable and painful were never able to break my spirits or destroy my confidence or dampen my hopes, because I was blessed with a deep religious faith in a God who somehow turns everything eventually to good, writes straight with crooked lines and many pens. I was blessed with parents that were upright and optimistic and challenging, blessed with a personality that is rather open, flexible and inquisitive, blessed with opportunities I took advantage of.

If you want to understand me, look at the principles and beliefs that inspire me. What I believe is that I was created by God and must answer to Him. I believe that the interests, aptitudes and abilities I was given should be developed and used for good. I believe the key to my destiny is in how I use the talents and opportunities that God presents me with in this life, how I respond to the world around me, how I react to the things that happen to me, how I deal with the people around me, how I handle the problems that beset me, how I enjoy the blessings I receive and cope with the losses and sufferings I experience. This doesn’t mean I do everything right, but it explains the motivation that drives me. I am leaving unsaid, of course, all the things I regret doing and am ashamed of.

I have God to thank for starting me off in life and for the opportunities He keeps providing through the circumstances of my life. I have God to thank for giving me the tools with which I have constructed my life. I have God to thank for showing me the meaning of life and the ultimate goal of life. I have God to thank for allowing me the chance to attain the goals He made it possible for me to reach for. I have God to thank for staying close to me, for being patient when I lagged behind and tolerant when I went astray. I have only myself to thank if I fail the test of life

God has put us in a world governed by physical forces we are powerless to change. In his wisdom which I find it hard to understand, but which I accept because that’s the way things are, He created us in a world of physical laws over which we have no power and gave us free will over whose decisions we do have some control.  There are accidents, crimes, diseases and extremes of weather, there are frustrations and failures. There are also moments of happiness and bliss, of enjoyment and success, of peace and tranquility.

Every life is a miracle.  The things that happen to us make us or break us.  God does not ordinarily intervene with miracles to clear our paths so we won’t trip or prevent what is about to happen, but every day we experience his miracles by being able to turn whatever happens into an opportunity for self realization, patience, and good.

St. Somebody said once that if he had the power of God, he would change the world so there would be no more evil or pain. But if he had the wisdom of God, he would have to leave things the way they are. This is a wisdom that is very hard to understand. But I accept it. I don’t believe that God deliberately wants anyone to suffer or purposely manipulates circumstances to injure or punish.  He has, however created us in a world governed by physical laws that we cannot change but which are somewhat predicable and created us with free wills that are unpredictable but capable of reacting in personal ways to the world and of manipulating, for good or for evil nature, the environment and all the living creatures.

Some people sail through life in comfort and good fortune. Others suffer the assaults of extremes of weather, accidents, illness, deprivation, cruelty. These things happen to good people and bad people. What makes a person good or bad is not the things that happen, but what the person does when they do happen or how the person faces the challenges of life.

I believe in miracles. They happen every day. There would probably be many more of them, if we really believed they could happen. God ordinarily does not run before us removing obstacles so we won’t fall down.  But he is there every day to help us get up when we fall, help us dry our tears, give us energy to go on.

What is the greater miracle? For God to run before us removing every stone from our path, stripping the thorns off every rose we touch, or God just being there to lift up our spirits every time that something happens to pull us down.

I am a Libra. Libras usually like the finer things in life, conviviality, sharing, gentleness and dislike violence, injustice, being slave to fashion. They are the most civilized and are usually good looking with elegance and good taste, though I am not so sure that applies to me. They are kind, gentle, and lovers of beauty, harmony, and unity, which is closer to the truth. Libras tend to be balanced, diplomatic, and even tempered. They have critical acumen and can impartially stand back and judge fairly. Some Libras, however are intolerant of criticism and greedy for the approval of others, but I don’t think this applies to me. Libras are moderate in their views and able to see other people’s point of view and sensitive to the needs of others. They are easy-going and sociable. Someone described Libras as being thoughtful, creative, artistic, and charming. I’ll accept the thoughtful and creative, but have doubts about the artistic and charming except to a mediocre degree.

I was born in the Chinese Year of the Monkey. This means I should be very intelligent, well-liked by everyone, and successful in what ever field I engage in. Monkeys are fun-loving persons always eager and energetic. Monkeys are alert to their surroundings, sociable and are good at making people feel comfortable. Monkeys, clever, skillful, and inventive, can solve difficult problems with ease. But they tend to be too agreeable. They are strong willed, but their anger cools quickly. They want things to be done right away, and if projects become too delayed, they get discouraged and leave it and go on to another.

These are the things that have made me what I am today. I cannot claim the credit for myself, but acknowledge my responsibility for all that I done with these precious gifts.

Photo by Roberto Ribeiro

Robert Ronald

Bob was among the most prolific writers of eRenlai. He passed away peacefully on January 2 2009 in Taipei. A tribute to his life and his work can be found here on eRenlai: http://www.erenlai.com/index.php/en/focus/2011-focus/bob-ronald-challenged-but-not-disabled

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