My next birthday will be…old. Actuarially speaking, I could drop dead at any moment.
Does that concern me? Are you nuts? Do you expect me to be all Courageous Blasé Guy and say it doesn’t? Of course it concerns me. I mean, we’re talking DEATH here. Finis. Nada more. The cats left without a Dad.
On the other hand, it doesn’t keep me awake at night and I fully intend to finish the five more books (at least) that I have in mind to round out the adventures of Clint McCall and Devon Malone. Hell, there are two or three series I’d like to do beyond that.
Perhaps “aware of” would be a better characterization of my attitude than “worried about” when it comes to death.
And here’s what I’ve thought for a long time: awareness of death is a good thing. It’s the ultimate evidence of impermanence and we ignore impermanence at our peril.
Ignore it and you end up with Why me? What if? If only… That shouldn’t have… I wish… when instead you could be enjoying your damned morning. Enjoying the fact that you woke up and have another day of sun or rain, warmth or cold, sickness or health, earthquake or calm seas, or whatever it may bring.
From Young to Older, for Instance
The fact is that we’re all—if we’re lucky—going to get old and sick and feeble and forget who the hell we are and, right up to that last part at least, we can still enjoy the morning. And afternoon and evening. Maybe even after we no longer know who is enjoying it.
When we’re young everything is new and exciting; every day is an adventure. And, yes, things happen as we get older. Days come, perhaps a great many days, that do not seem new or exciting or anything remotely like an adventure. There are frightening days, terrible days, sad days. Frustrating days. Boring days.
But Here’s the Thing….
Those days pass as well—and even more quickly if we can find a way to see them for what they are: not the days themselves, but our experience of the days. Think about it: the day isn’t frightening; you’re frightened. The day isn’t boring; you’re bored. The day just starts at midnight and ends at the next midnight. It just is. And then it isn’t anymore.
You can still choose to see it as new and exciting, as an adventure. Maybe it’s an adventure in dealing with grief or with illness or with being alone, but isn’t it new? Can’t it be exciting? It’s never happened before in exactly this way to anyone on earth. Plus, it beats the hell out of being dead.
And there’s always tomorrow, as long as there is a tomorrow. Today will pass. Guaranteed. Believing that, experiencing that, living that, is living as if you were young. It’s the way to go. In more ways than one.
Who knows? My last birthday could be REALLY old, somewhere around my 95th say, just after I wrap up that fourth series.
Might as well plan on it.