Keep on going there and doing that

Sunday, January 31, 2010

"No, I wouldn't care to go to any more school ballgames. I've been there, done that," a man said. Then he went on to explain that he practically spent his whole life at some kind of ball field, or in the school gym when his children were growing up. "Now it's your turn," the man told the parents of school-age children. The same outlook can be applied to almost anything. Someone's always been there and done that, but do you stop living and participating in the things around you simply because you've traveled that road before?

There have been many studies concerning the longevity of life. In his book "Live Young Forever," Jack LaLanne said, "Never retire." When he recently wrote the book, the fitness guru was 95 years old. "When you slow down too much, you come to a stop. You may feel that you have no purpose in the machinations of society," LaLanne says. People who stay active and interact with others frequently are believed to live longer. LaLanne wrote that he "can't wait to get out of bed in the morning and greet the new day" and "the rest of your life is the best of your life." Staying interested in what goes on around you is one prescription for staying healthy, being happier and living longer.

I used to think that those who said they had "been there and done that" had lived an interesting and full life because everything you suggested doing they had already encountered. Consequently, I found myself reluctant to tell them about my ventures or plans because I didn't want to see their look of boredom or hear the comment. I couldn't enjoy the company of people who had no interest in revisiting any past experiences, especially when it involved meaningful ones concerning loved ones.

My mother was a prime example of someone who truly had been there and done that, because she lived such a long life. However, anytime you asked her to accompany you on an excursion of almost any kind, she had her shoes on, ready to go. Mom attended her children's activities and later those of her grandchildren. She must have been tired of attending graduations, programs and weddings, but she never let on. Instead, mom treated each event like a new and exciting event. Because she held this attitude she was never without people to invite her to various functions. Needless to say, mom was seldom lonely. I can never remember her saying she'd rather not participate in an activity because she had already been there, done that. Instead she kept on going there and doing that. I'm reasonably sure that was a big reason she lived to be quite elderly.

Ecclesiastes 1:4-10 speaks of Solomon's worldly view of boredom with life and all it had to offer, so thinking you've been there, done that isn't a new revelation. "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun" (vs. 9). Verse 8 says "All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing." When you experience similar feelings know that they, too, are not something novel. However, even though it seems unnecessary to repeat what we've done before we are promised that "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come." (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The experiences of the things we've done and the places we've been can become fresh over and over again. If not, how could someone enjoy newborn babies? It depends on why we relive previous circumstances and for whom. I fully intend to "keep on going there and keep on doing that, believing in life's constant renewal, as long as I can!"

Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.

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