The Best of Times
Every species knows that to experience the best in life, they have to be at their best -- at all times, and especially so as they grow older -- otherwise, they just are not going to be around.
That doesn't necessarily mean being the Alpha Male -- which is necessarily a high risk occupation of constant challenges and endless responsibilities. But even alpha males know there comes a time when it is right to step aside to a lower profile niche position there is less competition for.-- thereby retaining their usefulness to the greater society. That is usually exhibited by the ability and willingness to take care of others -- or just to take care of themselves so as not to be a liability to the group but an asset when sheer numbers require as many able bodies as available.
That doesn't mean just being a warm body is sufficient. Frequently, all that is required is just to show up -- at the right time and moment. That mere presence is often enough to turn the tide of an outcome. Of course that is life on the grander scale -- than the pettiness most have come to accept as their lives.
Thus the quest for a greater sense of participation in the lives of all others, has become an integral part of contemporary lives we know as "entertainment," and distractions from our actual lives. Many come to prefer those fantasies over the possibilities of actualizing their own lives to the greatest extent possible. They in fact become incapable of distinguishing the fiction from the reality, the virtual over the actual.
The actual is how we manifest our own lives -- and not how much we identify with some other fictional or ideal -- wishing it was true for us. Many have lost this ability to distinguish between what they know to be true, from how they actually live that truth -- which then becomes a greaat problem in society. What they do may be the opposite of what they think they are doing -- or hope to convince others is what they are doing.
When that difference is pointed out to them, they will get angry and demand that one believe as they are instructed to, and not what their own senses are telling them. In fact, they are frequently told not to believe their own senses -- in favor of what the self-proclaimed authorities would have us believe were handed down directly from the Most High personally, to convey to the masses.
Invariably, that message is to abandon one's own judgment and capacity to judge and discern such matters for themselves -- in favor of what the experts proclaim them to be. As a result, very few come to know themselves well -- because they believe what others tell them they are, rather than finding that out for themselves -- as the ultimate quest of every meaningful life, and as Socrates said, "the only life worth living."
That is one's own -- and so why not the best? That's really the only thing that makes sense -- making the best of one's own life -- no matter what one has to work with. Very few begin with absolutely nothing, and very few begin with absolutely everything, and so the first task, is finding out what exactly one has -- and beyond that, their individual strengths and weaknesses.
Thus every wise advice, has consisted of the instruction, "to know oneself" -- instead of presuming to know everyone else. That is their business and order of the day. That is in fact, how one distinguishes the wise from the unwise -- how much they know themselves, and not how much they want others to think of them.
The latter will always be miserable -- because what they know is useless to themselves, because they cannot prove it on themselves. They are powerless to act on their own problems -- and can only project them on to others to solve. They can solve all the imaginary problems of the world, but never any real ones -- particularly in their own lives.
Those who can, are living in the best of times -- doing the best they can, and that's all that matters.