Not too long ago, I was hanging with a good friend a mine. It was the usual hanging out thing, which in my world means sitting on your hemorrhoids, drinking beer, and talking bad about puppies. He’s 82.
Christ! 82! I can’t even imagine what that is like (but I’m starting to be able to).
Anyway, we’re having a beer and watching other friends do manual labor. As we relax, he tells me a story about a phone call his wife got.
Their house got destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. It has since been rebuilt, but some dudes called or something and tried to get her to sign up for some bullshit I only half paid attention to (because that’s what friends do). Some kind of a big rebuild plan or something that would lock Mr. 82 and Wife in for 10 years. She signed up without asking hubby.
So Mr. 82 says to me, “What was she thinking? That’s a life sentence!”
And I’m just like … wow.
I mean, I guess he’s right, yeah? You’re 82 and healthier than I am, so that rocks. But 10 more years, that’s a spell, innit? It really IS a life sentence!
He didn’t seem to care, though. It was just some fact to him, like knowing your car is up for inspection next October or that your Christmas lights need to come down in April.
It made me aware of my own mortality, but in a really GOOD way rather than the really brooding, looming way that has hung over me since the first time an organ failed. He was so matter-of-fact about things I couldn’t help but be impacted by it. I KNOW him. He lives a WAY more active life than I do, always has, so his 10 years are like 30 of mine – or maybe 40, since so many of mine are spent on my ass posting dumb crap for people like you,
That was kind of the point of my realization. For him, “ten more years” was just a thing, whatever, no time to think about it because that’s just life, so who cares?
I kind of do! When I was a kid, I was all about The Who refrain you know so well, insistent that getting older would be the worst thing possible, but these days I realize how stupid that was. Being an adult is awesome! Getting closer to being dirt is not. I feel the clock all the time. I DON’T want to die before I get old, I want to GET OLD AS HELL!
Well, until I mess my pants and lose my memory, that is. Otherwise, bring it on! Adulthood is awesome! It has been the best time of my life! I welcome 70, 80, 90 and beyond!
My friend’s so-casual-it-hurt dismissal of his own mortality made me think, “Why would I care about being in my 40s? Means I’m only halfway there, right?”
Let’s say your schooling ends at 20, a middle ground between high school and basic college. So 20 years post-school and you’re at 40. That means the 20 years of adulthood you’ve enjoyed puts you only halfway to 60, which is considered fairly young these days, and even at 60 you’re still another 20 years short of the roughly 80-year life expectancy us western world folks have (the first half of those 80 years probably spent flailing around trying to figure out how to be a happy adult).
So even in your 40s, you’re only halfway there!
And halfway is good, because let’s face it, our first 5 or 10 or 15 years on Earth are kind of a waste, aren’t they? Be honest, what part of that time other than some cool comics or movies or TV shows (all of which you can experience again) actually MATTER to you? I have some fond childhood memories, but I don’t need to relive that time in my life. So halfway means I have a TON more awesome left … and I could use some awesome. We all could. At 40something, it means I got LOADS left to do and see and experience and enjoy. I get to write books and articles, garden cool stuff, see great movies. All sorts of other stuff I like. Even better, it means that at even 62 I still have DECADES left to enjoy life. If my entire adult life has been the 20 years since my post high school years, it means I’m only halfway through all that good adult stuff.
The freakin’ Beatles had their whole career in less than one damn decade!
Now I ain’t no Beatles, but still…
The other realization was that I am posting to the Internet right now, so yeah.
And that makes me say, GET UP and GET OUT and smell the stench of wet soil and street and air outside your front door and realize it doesn’t suck.
Life is neat.
Wow. I love pizza!