Big Bang

Listen to the audio file of Chapter One

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had 63+ exceptional years of marriage to a wonderful woman, Hildegard, before she passed away when I was 85.  And I have now been blessed with a new beginning:  over one year and a couple of months later, on my 87th birthday, I married a younger Fijian beauty, Meredani.  41 years younger – no kidding.  Here are some photos of us:

wedding
Here are Meredani and I on Magic Island (that’s a real place) on Oahu, at the water’s edge with Diamond Head in the background. From left to right it’s me, Meredani in a traditional (original heirloom) Fijian wedding dress, flower girl Ginger whose 7th birthday happened to be May 7th also, and Kahu Jane Kaimana Ma’u. (“Kahu” is Hawaiian for “priest” or wedding official, a person carefully trained and strictly licensed by the State of Hawaii.) Kahu Jane is performing the wedding rites.
wedding2a
This one is Meredani and I holding a whale’s tooth; this may need some explanation. Actually more than explanation – some knowledge of Fijian culture would come in handy. You could read up on that at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabua or on other sites about “Tabua” (ceremonial whale tooth) from Fiji. In short, whales’ teeth, which have been extremely rare since Fijian cannibal times, were kept (and traded) as a family treasure – in most cases as THE family treasure. Like a bar of gold, one whale’s tooth was owned by the entire family, revered and worshipped, and then it was passed on from generation to generation, always given to the one considered the main bearer of the family values. That whale’s tooth has its own spirit too, which is still alive, radiating energy and strength to its owner or to anyone who is exposed to it. Well, Meredani was the trusted holder of their family’s whale’s tooth, passed down through generations for hundreds of years. And then, voila, there it was as part of our wedding ceremony: that good fortune and talisman is being transferred from her to me.

Only a select few had been given two weeks’ advance notice of the wedding that was going to take place.  The rest of the world received no notification because it was to be a surprise wedding, a very private affair “far from the maddening crowd” and with the news only getting out afterwards.

The flood of responses to our announcement was very enthusiastic and jubilant.  Here are just two examples:

(A)

This one is from Hildegard’s longtime principal physician, and close personal friend, from when we came to Hawaii in the 1990s until the very end.

From: Dr. Sue Ja Park
Subject: Re: Surprise…
Date: May 8, 2016 at 10:27:30 PM HST

To: Win Straube
WOW what a surprise !!!!!!!
The BEST NEWS I have heard in a long time !!!!!!!
CONGRATULATIONS !!!!!!!
BEST WISHES for a long long happy life together.
I am positive that Hildegard is very happy to know that you are married and that she gave you her best BLESSINGS.

Thank you for the delightful HAPPY NEWS.
Congratulations again !!!!!!!

Sue Ja

(B)

“Dragonfly” lives in Vermont, a book reviewer for Roundtable Reviews, which, by the way, has provided many book critiques for Amazon.  She is the “Dragonfly” who reviewed my book “Enjoying the Ride” in 2002 and became a personal friend to both Hildegard and me.

From: Dragonfly
Subject: Re: Surprise…
Date: May 10, 2016 at 12:42:51 PM HST

To: Win Straube
Hi Win…

Happy birthday and my sincere congratulations!  A second marriage such as yours is a testament to the love you had in the first one.  I’m sure you and Meredani will be quite happy.  I would have dropped in but, alas, I’m just a bit too far away. You both look very happy.

Sometimes, as you know, people can and do frown upon second marriages after a long first one.  My advice is to ignore them and simply cherish the time you have together.  Any plans for a honeymoon?  You’re probably in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, but you could do a little something to celebrate.  I’m just so thrilled that you have found someone to share your life with.

Regards to lovely Meredani.

Take care!

Dragonfly

It’s all happened before…

Listen to the audio file of Chapter Two

Yes, there is nothing new about couples marrying with an age difference of 40 years or more.  Here are just a few of the more prominent individuals who were married that way:

Age Difference: 40 Years
Pablo Picasso… to Françoise Gilot

41 Years
Clint Eastwood… to Erica Tomlinson-Fisher

42 Years
Leopold Stokowski… to Gloria Vanderbilt

43 Years
Mick Jagger… to Melanie Hamrick

46 Years
Dick Van Dyke… to Arlene Silver

47 Years
Anthony Quinn… to Kathy Benvin

60 Years
Hugh Hefner… to Kendra Wilkinson

So, what else is new?

Marrying for a second time at a later age is a very positive way of embracing life and happiness. It’s definitely working for me!

Though this doesn’t mean that YOU need to try and put a marriage together with a larger than customary age difference.  At the same time, the way I see it, chronological age shouldn’t be a consideration in choosing a compatible partner anyway.  If you wanted to go by physical condition, like maybe blood pressure readings, mental acuity, and how well you perform on a treadmill in comparison to each other, that might be more useful.  Mind you, happiness and harmony probably can be nurtured and found by what may look to the rest of the world as totally incompatible individuals.  AND, one’s logical reasoning (as shown in historical practice) is not necessarily the best guide for ensuring that attraction blossoms into love and long-term bliss.  Although my gut tells me that being able to use some reason also may be helpful, maybe even wise, considering the long-term consequences.

Engage with today

Listen to the audio file of Chapter Three

Actually there are plenty of chances for new beginnings in one’s daily existence as well, regardless of your stage in life.  Boundless opportunities to live joyfully and to be fully connected with people and your environment, whether in a more local community or within the world community. As Heraclitus (pre-Socractic Greek philosopher) said, “change is the only constant,” so embracing change is the only way to grow and evolve.

Looking at it scientifically, Charles Darwin’s great insight was that “while species do change, they do not progress toward a predetermined goal. Organisms adapt to local conditions, using the tools available at the time.”

That includes organisms like humans, as we well know.  Which, long story short, means:  Going on through time, such as growing older, regardless of whether it’s 8 days older or 80 years older, people who keep adapting to changing conditions and using the available choices of their era WILL change. They’ll change even if ever so slightly, in who they are and how they are able to deal with their life.  In other words:  Don’t become rigid, not physically or mentally, but keep on going with the times.  For example, among my high-school classmates, what’s important is keeping physically active in whatever way you can, and keeping your brain engaged. This includes learning to use a computer and the internet; I know many who haven’t done that and are staying away from any such newfangled ideas.

Just BECAUSE one is going along and living in the present and in preparation for another tomorrow, one can let go of some of the old things and thoughts as well. You are free of course to continue enjoying them through memories, reminiscing, or drawing new conclusions from old histories you’ve lived through.  That’s very healthy and makes one a better-equipped person for what you are dealing with now; more so than the ones who were born later, maybe much later, and don’t have that reservoir of experience.

Nevertheless, it’s better not to live in that past, but to stand on your own two feet in the present.  Here is a piece of advice given by Suzanne Lucas, a human resources professional in Basel, Switzerland:

“Take your job from 30 years ago off your résumé. It has no relevance to what you can do today.  And it makes you look old.  Age discrimination is real.”

Yeah!  Not only is age discrimination real, but if you didn’t step from your past into the present, YOU are contributing to making yourself old and demonstrating it as well.  Being older than these young inexperienced whippersnappers can really mean being better, leading a richer life for yourself, and being much more useful to society.

So tell me about it!

Listen to the audio file of Chapter Four

If I talk about my creaky joints, hurting back, poor hearing, diminishing eye sight, slower mental recall, inability to hold water when I’m laughing too hard, and yet more I don’t dare tell you – are these not making me “old”?  Or worse:  Do I need to deny that I am deteriorating and pretend I’m as good as the younger folks?

Hmm, hmm.  Not so fast!  Sure, anything mechanical will work toward breakdown.  Though, miraculously, the human body is pretty good at renewing itself, in many respects even improving itself.  Not that you’ll be able to run as fast as when you took part in the local 5k, but the goal is to keep walking and keep the circulation of your blood going to serve the prime organs which, after all, is what makes the difference between being fully alive or fading away.

Your mind, actually, might be working a lot better at a ripe old age, even though it may be a little slower in processing.  Due to its practically unlimited storage facility it has knowledge reserves which only you, the chronologically older person, are able to draw on. Plus it has a lot more experience in processing than any kid could possibly have.

The key difference, in my opinion, is whether you see yourself as a normal, adult person pursuing whatever you were best designed for, or as a somewhat worn-out mechanism in a steady course of decline.  If you think the latter, then that’s what you really are, no question about it, for your entire YOU needs your personal approval for thinking and feeling that way.  But that approval need not be given, at least not that easily.  And, for strong minds and bodies, it can be denied totally.

Looking back at nature, be it rabbits, whales, or eagles: they are born, they grow, they live and live, and then they die.  They don’t live a normal life until say their middle age, and then have a slow deterioration from maximal to minimal living until they die.  NO.  Animals are out in the field hunting their prey, doing all the things they normally do, until the day they die.  Which doesn’t mean that their bodies (or minds) didn’t deteriorate.  Very likely they did, up to a point, but mostly their bodies and minds rejuvenated themselves sufficiently every day until the day the process stopped and the creature dropped dead or died somehow.

The way we humans, in our present culture, see that same process is that the major part of our adult life is considered to be spent with work. Then, depending on the society, at age 55 up to 65, we are meant to switch from work to retirement. This time period is supposed to be mainly for doing nothing, abstaining from active participation in the world, and letting the world serve you until you do die after prolonged deterioration in all departments.

Well, if that is how we think, then that’s for sure how it goes.  Of course there are many many reasons why society at this point in time is thinking this way, based on spiritual, religious, political, and other ideas.  Just not on common sense, in my biased opinion.

I can see how this came about.  The industrial revolution in the 19th century produced hard-working employees whose bodies and minds were pushed to the limits of their capabilities.  Then, at the point when they were about to collapse, they were given “retirement” to make restitution for the primarily physical exploitation that they went through for so long; to give them a “do nothing” enjoyable life until the end.  In my opinion, this is superficial claptrap. It deals with a humanly distorted “filling your time” endeavor, in this case an exploitive way of “work,” and then it removes all guilt for such a poor choice of filling your time, providing an equally unnatural and distorted period of “golden years” called “retirement.”

Of course we are not going to change the past.  And, no doubt, the thinking of the best minds of the time (to some degree still our time) came up with that process. “Work” and “Retirement” have been considered a reasonable, maybe in their minds even God-prescribed, formula for the use of a man’s or woman’s life.

With the benefit of hindsight I must say that, in my humble opinion, common sense should have worked totally different.  Yes, I believe that “filling our time” is part of the human design, not necessarily as a prescribed curriculum item, such as for simply eating, drinking, or reproducing, but one which by necessity is there for the purposes of far more. This includes providing for the basic human needs and then much much more, including reaching for the stars.

Depending on how we want to look at it, from a spiritual, religious, political, or strictly individualistic point of view, I think that how we are filling our time defines us as humans and what kind of human we are, just because we are able to be reaching for the stars.

 

So, how do we want to be defined?

Listen to the audio file of Chapter Five

Well, not as a species which is exercised to exhaustion while all vital signs are strong, and then let out to pasture and to fade away in due course.  No.  That may be the practice for horses, but because we are capable of and should be in charge of how we are filling our time intelligently, we should be able to do way better.

Let me quote here from “Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life” by Peter Gray:

“Hunter-gatherers did not distinguish work from play as we do. They grew up playing at hunting and gathering and moved on gradually to the real thing, still in the spirit of play. They had no concept of work as toil. Anthropologist Marshall Sahlins famously referred to hunter-gatherer societies, collectively, as “the original affluent society.”

The point I want to make is that we humans were designed, and/or maybe evolved over a very long period of time, as individuals who use initiative and love to play and have fun.  That’s how we are at our best, in what we can produce and in the satisfaction and enjoyment we get out of filling our time.  The toil and stunting of our senses only came later, with the introduction of agriculture and even more with industrialization.

Again, we can’t roll this back.  Nor do we need to sulk about it.  That’s just the way it was.  Whether we like it or not, it served one purpose: in demonstrating to us that removing initiative and playfulness are NOT the best way of making people healthier and happier over time.  To the contrary.  That’s what makes people sick, physically and mentally.  A book with a long list of examples could be written on this point alone.  But you probably don’t need to look far to see many examples of this “modern-life mode” effect in people, i.e., people who are stressed out, maybe their mind continuously warped or inflated; having heart problems, diabetes, cancer or precancerous conditions; and so on.  People having ailments and sicknesses which didn’t exist in a hunter-gatherer society or many other forms of societies which didn’t or still don’t live the “hard work and then retirement” lifestyle.

So that’s precisely how we DON’T want to be defined.  Which means that we don’t want to fill our time with the “work then retire” lifestyle, even though the present political and societal gospel sees this as the normal, desirable mode of operation.  We of a more advanced age, and in good condition, want to be defined as the “Superb Seniors” who do two things differently:

(1)

We do live ONE adult life from when we are able to be fully responsible for ourselves until the day we die.  No “young workers” and “old workers” and “retirees” or other classifications based on age or period of life.  Whatever we are doing, whomever we are interacting with, it really makes no difference what age we are, as long as we produce/deliver/do what is normal under the circumstances.  Moreover:  People don’t know exactly what age you are, or might be totally wrong if they were to guess at it.  What if you didn’t know your age yourself?  You’d still play softball or whatever, however you’d be able to do it at that time, or perhaps not at all – maybe you wouldn’t WANT to even if your true chronological age was 28.  So, we are ALL in that boat together.

In my personal life, all along I’ve done what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it, and NOT done things for whatever the reasons.  I never thought of age anywhere in any circumstances, or appropriateness for that particular age at the time, but I’ve seen many people who do that – to their detriment.

(2)

We “fill our time” with thoughts and activities we enjoy pursuing and feats we WANT to achieve, and/or things we WANT to create or bring about.  That’s all.  That’s at least what I’ve done, and am still doing, I hope until the day I die.

Obviously these wants may change, gradually or drastically, while we are going through our life. This is natural, depending on our environment and lots of external circumstances.  But in no way should they have anything to do with our true chronological age.  Our age goes with us like the boat that takes us down the river through the gorge of life.  It makes no difference.  That’s what our age is at this moment in this spot of the moving river, and it will come along with us to wherever we’ll be going.

Since my personal recommendation is to legitimatize the wants and joys of those 88 years old and above, and those who aim to join that party, below I’ll list a few “fill your time” items which I am pursuing with great pleasure.  And I know so many others who are enjoying interests like these as well.

But first an excerpt from Jo Ann Jenkins’ 2016 book, “Disrupt Aging: A Bold New Path to Living Your Best Life at Every Age”:

“The fastest growing age group is people eighty-five and older.”

  1. Here is what those guys (including me) and gals WANT and are not ashamed of reaching out for, holding on to, polishing, and playing with:

(A)

Good health.  Which includes many things.  Such as starting with a good night’s sleep.  Eating the right things and staying away from what’s not good for you.  Taking care of your body through exercise and endurance conditioning.  Meditation and spiritual practice.

(B)

Love and affection.  The real thing with a real partner.  Or by yourself in spirit, if you have to, with people who may have already departed, or are in a state of being halfway across the river Styx.  Of course with your family and your friends, old and new. And be open to letting new companions come and enter your circle.  Always be the one who is giving love and affection; don’t be the one who sits there waiting to receive it – that won’t work and is unlikely to happen.  Yet if you are the giving one, WOW, you’ll be receiving back in return more than you ever thought you’d be given, and in ways you probably never thought of either.

(C)

Continue education.  Learn new things.  Discover worlds you didn’t know before.  Get to know this universe better, even in its tiniest corners.  These days that’s easy because you don’t have to physically go places, you can go from your easy chair via your laptop or the TV.  Mind you, really stepping out on your own is still better for you.

(D)

Try be artistic.  Let your imagination roam and apply it.  Maybe try painting, or sculpting, or writing a poem or two, or whatever.  Play an instrument, or just sing.  Maybe learn to dance, or if everything is too much of an effort, at least go and see the newest ballet, go to the opera or the symphony, or visit museums.  Again, if that is too hard to do, you can get there using your computer, although I’d recommend this as the last choice.  Going in person is better.  Plus it gives you other exposures at the same time which is all good for you.

(E)

Read books, see movies.  Catch up with all the reading you didn’t have time for when you were younger.  If need be, let a librarian advise and help you.  If you have eyesight problems (as I do) and reading becomes hard work, get the books in audio versions so they’ll be read to you.  This way you can even “read” while lying in bed or on your couch, or on the grass under the big oak tree.

(F)

Make some money – if that gives you a good feeling, as it does to many people.  The list for doing that is too long to try and put in here; another book would need to be written about that.  In the meantime use your own ideas and make money doing what you are good at and enjoy.

(G)

Pursue YOU.  As the last item of this list I suggest that now is the time (which applies really to any time in your life) to have your own ideas on whatever they happen to be, and to engage with them.

As you might already have found out, there are not enough hours in a day to do all the things you want to do or have time for all your interests.  But that’s OK.  There’s always another day.  And actually, this is good because it’s that continuum which keeps you alive, and brilliantly alive at that.

Which brings me to another feature which, in my experience, is very important in all of this:  To live NOW, just this day in the present.

In other words:  It’s no good to live in the past.  We all know that, or should know.  There is not only no use crying over spilled milk, it won’t do any good to feel bad or short-changed about what happened yesterday and before.  All that is the past – it’s gone and should no longer be worried about.

Likewise, it won’t do any good to virtually live in the future.  Maybe until tomorrow is OK.  And of course you’ll have to plan for certain contingencies and specific happenings for dates far ahead.  That’s alright, even necessary.  However, just don’t start wandering now in your mind to that time with all kinds of players who’ll complete those wonderful plans in the distant future.  Your presence is required to be here, today, and to focus on what can and should be done right now.  Today needs your full and undivided attention, your love, your understanding.  And if you do things right today, then tomorrow will be a breeze to accomplish, when the same “this time right now today” endeavors start all over again.

This is also why the question of age should never enter into what you are doing, or affect how the world is interacting with you.  At least it hasn’t for me so far, and for others I know who have gone before me, much further than I’ve gone.

 

The later stage of life is unavoidable

Listen to the audio file of Chapter Six

I turned 16 on May 7, 1945, one day before Germany surrendered to the Allies in World War II. I was a famished fugitive trying to escape the Russian onslaught. Exhausted and cold, I cowered in a ditch on the side of a road leading to the American front line and tried to recoup somewhat, and prayed that God would allow me to live until the ripe old age of 32. Yes, 32. What a wonderful prize and accomplishment that would be!  First, just plainly to survive, and then to LIVE until age 32. WOW!

(If you want to read the details of how I came to be in that spot in the first place and on from there, then I suggest you get my book, “Enjoying the Ride.” It was published in 2002 and is available in many formats and from Amazon, online sellers, and elsewhere (including from www.straube.com, where it’s free and also available in audio version).

When I actually was 32 years old, married, with two children, and living in Canada, I prayed and hoped that I’d make it to age 64.

Well, I wrote “Enjoying the Ride” at age 73.  And guess what, I’m still going.

Which is to say that all these preoccupations with time spans and age are really pointless exercises to go through. Time will move along and you’ll move along with it, one way or another, until, no doubt, the day will come when your participation stops.  But, like in my case, that day could have come any day between the 16th and 32nd year, or between the 32nd and 64th, or in the time since then.  For sure it will come one fine day, except that I have no idea when that day will be.  For all that matters, it could be tomorrow.  And that is true for any “today” I am going through from here on.  The only way to deal with the nature of living is not to worry about it but, again, to live TODAY to the best of one’s abilities.  And that’s just great. That’s what the world is here for, and that’s what you are here for in this world.

I married Hildegard when I was 22 years old.  She was the ideal woman for me: beautiful, sporty, full of wit and energy, the smartest person I knew professionally and socially, and the most wonderful friend.

Well, in the 64th year of our marriage she died.  As the autopsy showed, Hildegard had been dealing with serious diseases for a long time, and they eventually killed her.  Yet nobody knew or would have known, including me, for Hildegard lived and interacted with the world very normally until her very last day.  Maybe SHE knew but she made sure nobody noticed, even though it may have been very hard.  That’s possible.  But still, overall she even went through the end phase of her life essentially living a normal life.  And when it was time to go, while she was resting in the recliner I am sitting in now to write this report, her eyes closed and her breathing slowed. There were three of us sitting next to her and I was holding her hand. Then she opened her eyes one more time, looked deep into mine with nothing but love, like saying Goodbye, and then she closed her eyes forever.

Yes, Hildegard lived a full life. Not in segments but in one continuous full life, from the day she was able to be responsible for herself until the day she died.  And I think that is how life is meant to be for us.  Doing it any other way is a distortion, which has its physical as well as mental consequences.

For me, of course, a time of great grief followed; grief that I am sure I’ll never be able to really get past.  In my mind and in many other ways of my life, Hildegard is still with me and always will be, I’m absolutely sure of that.  Our souls are intertwined and will be so for eternity.  Frankly, it is very comforting to have this connection and to keep it intact.

Yet, Hildegard is on the other side of here now, no longer in this world – somewhere I’ll eventually join her, as well as many others, in a time to come.  In the meantime, however, I am here today, and I must do what it takes to be “filling our time” until the day I am no longer able.  Which means I am alive in this world and need to do what it takes to be fully present right here, right now.

Therefore I can, and I want to, do what it takes to be fully alive, which brings me back to the “Wants and Joys (A-G)” list mentioned earlier.  It is alright, probably even mandatory for sanity and optimal health, to fall in love again, work out, learn, listen, read, create, make money, mentor, and make this a better world in whatever ways I am able to help do this.  Yes, I am here working under this world’s conditions to do what can and should be done here and NOW.  That’s all.  Plus, that’s healthy and tremendously satisfying.  No time for pain and suffering or worse: for being “old.”

Being chronologically old, real old like 88+, is a true attainment, a desirable state to be in. This is because you can be a wiser, smarter, fitter person than those below that age; plus you’ve proven so by the mere fact of having arrived at close to the peak of the pyramid.

People labeled as “Senior Citizens,” in my book, are those who live by the year, according to the present zeitgeist’s plan. They accept that label for having passed a specified “Senior Citizen” starting age, whatever that may be, as it varies in societies and localities.  Whatever it is, for my purposes I see the Senior Citizens time span ending at one day before chronological age 88.  Thereafter no more “Senior Citizen” – instead we’ll go with “Superb Senior,” as obviously that group is the top and should receive the greatest honor and respect.

In China, of course, they’ve known this for a long time.  Respect for the aged has always been a part of Chinese culture.  In China, in deference to older people, the word “old” has a connotation of honor.  And that’s the way it should be, at least if common sense is applied.  Thus the glorification of “the young,” as it has been in American culture for a long time now, is really a rather immature view of the world.  A view which, however, it appears that Americans are slowly growing out of as well.  Maybe just because the percentage of older vs. younger citizens has been steadily increasing.  Whatever the reason, I think it’s proof that society has become more civilized and is using more common sense to appreciate and honor the truly old.

The world’s oldest civilization had these values well in place long before barbarians elsewhere became more or less civilized.  Here are just a few examples of Chinese proverbs of 5000 and more years ago:

An old horse knows the way.

An elderly person at home [is like] a living golden treasure.

Old men have much knowledge and experience [just as] old trees have many roots.

And if I may add a personal observation:

Wait till you meet an old woman…  You’ll be surprised.

Can you or can you not remarry when?

Listen to the audio file of Chapter Seven

After the death of a spouse, what are the rules for remarriage of the survivor?

Well, according to certain religions, that depends on the survivor’s gender and/or the rules these religions have established.

For example, until 1829 (when the British outlawed the practice), it was a Hindu custom that a widow immolated herself on her husband’s pyre, or committed suicide in another fashion shortly after her husband’s death.  That practice was called Sati.  In Nepal, by the way, Sati was eventually banned in 1920.

I find the thought of Sati extremely repugnant because it applied only to women.  No Sati sacrifice was expected of the husband when his wife died.  This tells you something about their totally distorted mindset at the time, especially regarding the difference between men and women.

Still, in one form or another, practically all beliefs start out with the idea of a married couple remaining connected even when one of them dies earlier than the other.  In extreme cases, like the Hindu Sati custom, the marriage was seen as being “forever” in all senses, and therefore the wife was required to die whenever her husband died.  Again, highly unreasonable and illogical as it applied to women only, not to men, but that’s the way it was, and the “forever marriage” was the idea behind it.

Regardless of religions or beliefs, it is, of course, true that married couples, at least in a well-functioning marriage, do become ONE unit. Each person is one essential part of the two members it takes for a marriage, and it’s hoped that this relationship will last “forever.”

It is also obvious that when one of the spouses dies, part of the surviving spouse also dies as expressed through extreme grief. Over time the grief may recede but it’s likely it will never completely go away, even if the survivor should remarry.

Yes, though, that’s what happens in real life: the survivor may remarry.  But, because of the grief and a lot of other factors, that new marriage will probably happen only after some time has elapsed. There needs to be sufficient time to mourn the deceased, grieve as needed, find one’s way as an unmarried person in a new and hostile world, and more.

For this to occur, religions and societies have formed their own rules as to how much time should elapse before a surviving spouse is free to marry again.  For example, Islam prescribes that a widow is allowed to remarry after four months and ten days.  Why this specific time period?  Because four months and ten days after the death of a spouse is calculated as the number of menses a woman has.  If you want to find out more about this Muslim rule, just look up “iddah,” for this is the name of the practice.

Different religions and different societies mean different procedures, reasons, logic, and traditions.  If you ask me, that’s why I’d rather recommend the “common sense” approach, based on what is sound and sensible under the circumstances. This may mean totally different lengths of time for different people.  Here, let me give you an entry from the DEAR ABBY column of September 14, 2014:

>>>DEAR ABBY: My grandfather remarried at the age of 94, three months after his wife died. The woman he married was a former neighbor. The relatives were in shock, but Grandpa was ecstatic! At his age, a month is valuable time, and he had the good fortune to “start again.” I would consider it a compliment if my husband were to marry a mutual friend. After watching my grandfather celebrate life anew, I realized that his second marriage was a testament to his love for my grandmother.
– Grateful in Oakland, Calif.<<<

Actually, if you want to amuse or maybe totally confuse yourself for an afternoon, go ahead and google the proscriptions, including prohibitions, that the various religions, churches, societies, and gurus of one kind or another, even governments (including the U.S. Social Security Administration) have to offer.  It’s bewildering.  And for sure the rules are all over the map.

Therefore, if that’s really a question you want to deal with, I recommend “common sense” again, and let the chips fall where they may.  It is absolutely impossible to satisfy all the expectations – too many parties out there passing judgment of how you should deal with what is best for the memory of your deceased partner and your life from here on.

Expectations make ALL the difference

Listen to the audio file of Chapter Eight

Everybody knows that people who see themselves as victims of circumstances beyond their control can be anxious or easily depressed, while those who own up to whatever they are doing or going through usually are not.  And more than that: individuals in charge of themselves are able to deal with even serious stress and strain in a superior manner which, as a result, is more likely to lead to better outcomes.  Plus it gives them the opposite of anxiety and depression, i.e., relief and satisfaction, even pleasure.

Of course, this can look complicated, particularly in the appropriate relationship of man to woman, although it really isn’t so.  Because in the end we are all related.  It’s just a matter of degree how close that relationship can be, and time frame and location are all part of it.  Let me explain.

You see, it’s our spiritual, religious, political, and other grand ideas which shape and twist our view of what’s going on, while my suggestion, as mentioned before, is simply to apply a common sense approach.

I started this treatise with a controversial position which does exist in our society today in respect to the morally correct relationship between man and woman, particularly in respect to mature people. Now I need to note that the “proper” relationship between man and woman is seen in a chaotic array of ways in different societies, each one of which firmly believes in its own practice as being the only true one.

Let’s return to one of the earliest human society forms again, the hunters and gatherers, of which there are still a few isolated groups in the world. The woman was – and where they exist, still is – pretty much an equal of the man in most respects.  Marriage between one man and one woman, however, is not common.  They may be partners for a while, but somewhere along the line they partner with different people.  They do this for many reasons, most of them having to do with being able to produce and bring up healthy offspring.

As all kinds of religions were created, and specific concepts and rules were developed of how that relationship between man and woman should be.  Here I am not going to give anything near a complete list of these options which have come into existence worldwide.  Again, that could fill a very thick book, which someone else might already have written or someone may write eventually.  Here I will merely pick a handful of examples which readily come to mind.

Muslims allow their men to have up to four wives.  And, from what I’ve seen, all parties appear to be happy with that solution.  Allah approves, maybe even prescribes it.

Mormons can essentially have countless wives, all at the same time.  Mormon leaders have acknowledged that the church’s founder and prophet, Joseph Smith, took as many as 40 wives, some already married and one only 14 years old.

Christianity, by and large, through its many different churches, proclaims that marriage between one man and one woman is a one-time affair, “from now until death do we part.”  Yet in actual practice, couples do get divorced and then remarry, some of them several times. Thus they end up with multiple relationships throughout their lives, although each one of them may be a one-man-to-one-woman relationship at the time.  Also I have seen that marriages get annulled, at times many years after they had been entered into, and the individuals involved were then treated as if they had never been married.

I’ve seen ethnic minorities in China (at the time of my visit there were 54 of them), some of them outside Kunming in Yunnan Province, a few of which are maternal societies. One in particular where the woman-man relationship is somewhat like the Mormon concept, except that it is the woman who is the head of the family and may have many husbands, or quasi-husbands, who in turn may serve several families.

Looking at all of this from a common sense perspective, I see two forms of man-woman relationships as being sound, healthy, just, and working out alright:

(X)

If a person is a firm believer of a certain religion or view of the world, as well as in that belief’s particular rules, then it makes good sense to live by those rules and obtain happiness as well as salvation therein.

(Y)

Physically, mentally, and spiritually, the relationship can be only one-to-one between one man and one woman. And to deepen that experience, which means becoming more of ONE true couple in all respects, the relationship will be exclusive.  There won’t be any other wives or concubines, unless the woman WANTS to be only a part-time partner, and the man is prepared to be responsible for that part-time partner to the same extent as he would be to one partner.

All of this would need to be applied to the time frame the two partners are really living together; not to after they separated, intentionally or by death, or if they were permanently in different locations.  In other words, a healthy, God-given, man-woman relationship is possible and desirable when the two are there for each other exclusively, in the same place, at the same time.  Common sense tells me that this way true happiness can be found, not to mention that difficulties are easier to overcome and relationships with the rest of the world are strengthened.

Why is it important to see this clearly?  Because the wrong expectations of what we ought to do and how we should behave, particularly at a certain chronological age, easily leads to disastrous misjudgments and decisions which can very negatively impact our lives.  Instead the answer is to work, live, think, love, and give of yourself – NOW.  Don’t be judgmental, and do something for a better tomorrow instead of having any expectations of it.

Yes, this is a “later stage of life” story.  But the story is not finished – it’s as alive as it has ever been and it will continue to be so until the day it is not. How does anyone know that today, or tomorrow, could not be the end of his or her life, regardless at what age this happens to be? That’s why you need to live TODAY without fear of tomorrow, as practically all living beings do, for that’s the only way to fully live, share, and enjoy this incredible life here in this world.

win-and-mari

So, just for you, and you, and you, and me, the sun rises over a health-giving earth which CAN be our Garden of Eden to savor, relish, go on cultivating, and play in – NOW.