75 years old minus 10 days, WTF?
Based on a joke created by my 5-year-old grandson, Michael:
Ten days until I'm 75 years old.
The punchline for his version was “Five days ‘til Christmas!” which, I will admit, is much funnier than my version.
Ten days until I’m 75 years old.
So I thought I’d celebrate the occasion, and get myself back in the writing habit by doing a ten post countdown series.
Starting with: “What’s it like being almost 75 years old? Three-quarters of a century? That’s old right?”
Answer: yes, and no. Sometimes I feel like a 35-year-old trapped in a 75-year-old body. There’s so much life ahead of me and so much that I want to learn and to do. And write. And sometimes I feel like I am destined to drag a tiring body and a deteriorating mind through a string of defeats, setbacks, and failures, ending with the ultimate failure: death.
I’m not worried about death. I never worried much, and I stopped completely on 9/11. I was flying that morning, and when my plane landed in Chicago and I saw the towers in flames, I realized that if I’d changed to a non-stop, as I’d thought of doing the night before, my plane would have “landed” in the World Trade Center. I would have been dead. And then I realized: “Not my problem.” I’d be dead. Bobbi and the kids might have a problem, but not me.
When I asked the father of a family friend what he thought about dying he said, “I don’t get to find out what happens.” I feel a lot that way. Life is interesting. And even though I live my life in a trance it's like watching a really good TV series, waiting for every new episode, and then discovering that it’s been canceled--in the middle of the season! Nothing gets resolved. There’s no closure. One day you're watching the next episode. Then next, it's just a blank screen.
The only thing that bothers about me being dead is the knowledge that I would have failed. I’d really like to live forever--or at least until my body is so ruined that I can’t drag it around anymore and my brain is so deteriorated that I don't know who anyone is. And if I died before Bobbi I'd feel I'd failed because I’ve promised that I would die after her and I don't like breaking promises. I imagine that if I died--no, when I die--I’ll cause unhappiness for at least a couple of my kids and maybe a few friends. I’d rather my departure was met with laughter rather than tears, but that's ultimately selfish. I'm not trying to spare them grief as much as sparing myself guilt over causing them grief. But never mind. I’ll be dead. So it’s all good.
But it’s not all good. There’s the thought of my own death and then there’s the thought of dying. That worries me. Will I suffer? Will I die well? (Which means: will I be proud of the role model I was for my kids as I went through the process of dying.)
I like the life that I live now, but I'm bothered by how little time I spend actually living it. Instead, I remember it. I spend too much time running MikeSim. I have great memories of what has happened, but I’d rather experience it as it happens and not remember things that seemed to have happened..
When I think about where I am in life’s journey, I see so many possibilities ahead, and I know that in the future I’ll at least have new, good memories to look back upon. But I’m likely not to have experienced a lot of what I expect that I’ll remember--unless I can manage to spend more time awake. Present. Here. Now.
One question that consumes me these days is: why do I so easily go into the trance that I retrospectively regret. And I think I might have an answer.
That comes in my next post in this series.
If I don’t die in the meantime.