A recent realization of mine is that for ever so long I’ve been wasting my time and efforts attempting to decipherer the nature of reality. These days however I spend observing, experiencing and savoring the reality of nature.

We humans, even though presently being digitized and robotized, we are still very much a part of nature. 

As a bird in flight or a rose in bloom, nature’s way is a pure and simple beauty. 

How can artificial intelligence possibly compete with the smile of a child, the wagging of a dog’s tail, the chirping of birds in spring or the breathtaking sight of a double rainbow?

There is life and there is the imitation of life. You and I and the natural world around us are authentic living, breathing life forms. There are many gadgets, devices and tools at our disposal and they have their uses. But they are tools; a creation of man.

The interests wellbeing and happiness of my friends, family and community are items most important to me. I guess I lean more toward the humanities than the mechanical.

So this is somewhat a personal chat with you dear reader. How’s it going? How’s the world treating you These days? Is it getting you down or are you plugging on through? Are you having fun and enjoying life in spite of it all? 

That’s really the reward and payday at the end as I see it. Fun, a few laughs, good friends ribbing and poking jokes at each other, sharing joy, merriment and a zest for life, living in the moment and getting the most out of it.

I’ve been experiencing my fair share of this myself in the past few years, and I must say it’s ever so pleasant. 

Icing on the cake you could say really. I’ve lived all these years, survived the hardships and tragedies, “Been a pauper, a poet, a pawn and a king”, as old Blue Eyes would say.

“Been up and down, over and out, still I know one thing”.

Sorry about borrowing all those lines. They just keep rattling around in my head from the thousands of times I’ve heard them. 

I sometimes see my journey through life as walking cautiously along on stepping stones. You try not to step in the mud, the pain sorrow and loss. They will pull you down and trap you like a bug in a Roach Motel.

Well, to live long, survive, prosper and succeed seems to me as balancing above the morass and swamp beneath the stepping stones. Also the urge to help brighten the way of another, to share the goodness and exuberance of living, to feel the joy and love of life when so many tell you all is dark and pointless - it’s a true calling.

But I ain’t no guiding light of excellence. I’ve rolled around in the mud and the dirt. I know the swamp. I know how it grabs you as it pulls you under. No hope. No light. No future!

But somehow, like a volleyball being held underwater, I’ve popped back up in these my latter years. I’m no longer a recluse, an isolated cocoon. I’ve rejoined the human race. I can smile, laugh and share pleasantries with my friends and neighbors.

And these friends and neighbors of mine are precious. Once you get to know them it’s hard not to love them. They’ve lived long hard lives working, raising families and creating an environment for future generations. They were young, beautiful and vivacious. They made their marks on the world. They had their day in the sun you could say.

These days they sit across the table from me for lunch at my local senior center. With grey hair, hollow eyes and wrinkles, they look at me and smile. There’s still a spark of life there.

Old and grey and fading away is how you may see them. But they have known the ups and downs, the pitfalls and the great exhilarations of life. 

They’ve seen so many of their friends and family slip away. Still they remain here dealing with the many changes life deals them.

After all these many years there’s still the thrill of life and living as they put one foot in front of the other on to the next stepping stone.

Dan O’Connor can be reached at danhughoconnor@gmail.com