My 65 year old father sat me down the other day with my mother and said he’d finally figured out what it takes to live a longer, happier life. He said it was to not take things so seriously and so personally and so emotionally.
He cited examples of friends and family members who cared too much and those who never cared about anything at all, drawing parallels to how difficult or easy life has been for them.
He said that he and my mother could never do that, that they always felt some sense of duty or honor or ethics or empathy or personal responsibility and couldn’t ever just let things be if they seemed unfair or unjust, and blamed the stress of that for all of their health problems and difficulties in life.
He told me I shouldn’t be like them, and that I should just learn to not care much about anything, and how sorry he was that he and my mother could never do that. “Do you understand what I’m saying?” he asked.
I thought about myself and all my past actions and decisions. I said, “I do. But I could never do that—not care—either.” And then the three of us sat together for a minute in silence, unable to not feel things deeply or to not care.