This post continues on from the last blog – “Drawing a Line in the Sand.” We continue on with a conversation between Mitch Jasper and Dave Logan from my book TOO LATE IN THE AFTERNOON: One Man’s Triumph Over Depression. Read on….
I listened to Dave intently. But instead of absorbing his words into my heart, I was thinking how to poke holes in his philosophy.
I said, “You made three major changes in your life, but look at the time frames. The drinking and fighting occurred over less than half a year. The fling with your co-worker lasted a few months. Your being filled with pride happened over three years. My bad habits have become ingrained in me over a period of 40 years. With that length of time, personalities become defined in concrete. Thought patterns become deeply etched fissures in the brain. The traces in the soul become darker and darker, until they are a permanent dye.”
Dave pounced on me again. “It’s never too late, never too late. Think about Scrooge in A Christmas Carol who underwent a profound experience of redemption over the course of one night. Scrooge was a financier who had devoted his entire life to the accumulation of wealth for himself, more than 40 years by the way. He held anything other than money in contempt, including friendships, love, and the Christmas season.”
I was familiar with the story. “I’ll grant you that one,” I said, “although it’s not a story based on a real character.”
“Stories don’t appear out of thin air,” responded Dave. “I expect Charles Dickens was familiar with a real person who had made such a change at an advanced age.
“If you want a real person, take my Grandfather Alex. Do you remember him when you came over to our house when he was visiting?He was a crotchety old man and had been tight fisted and a hoarder of money for 37 years of his life. He was greatly affected by The Great Depression, and his personality and thinking were cemented from that time on. My grandmother told my mother Grandfather Alex was the sweetest and most generous man in the first 15 years of their marriage. When he was 40 years old in 1935, he lost his job, his house, and all his savings. He had to start all over again. He became very successful in real estate but always thought another Great Depression was around the corner. That thinking robbed him of most pleasures in life. He had a constant anxiety that life would throw him back to where he was when he was 40.
“In 1965, when we graduated from high school, he was 70 years old. When he was 77, with 37 years of being a miserable old man who was heading to the poorhouse, he got a wake-up call. He was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. He underwent chemotherapy and was in remission the last ten years of his life. Six months after the diagnosis, we started to see a remarkable change in him. He became a new person. He was joyous, generous, a very kind person, and someone you wanted to be around all the time. It can be done. You had a major heart attack a year ago. You’re living on borrowed time. You could just as well be dead. You can become a new person just like Grandfather Alex—today.”
To be continued in the next posting. Don’t miss it.