Life and death sure has been on my mind lately. Last week a high school friend died in a freak accident, this week we lost Will Koch, and a guy at work I don't know lost his child to SIDS. I'm not used to so much death that close by.
I don't think I'm generally that worried about death in a general sense. I mean, I accept it as a part of life, and I don't fear that it's coming. I can even rationalize that if my belief system is wrong and there is no afterlife, that's OK too since I won't be able to worry about it. I'm reasonably at peace with the end game. It's the worry that I'm not doing enough with the time I have that gets to me.
Oh sure, there are still things that creep into my head. I mean, when Randy Pausch (the "Last Lecture" guy) was interviewed by Diane Sawyer, he mentioned how his poo floated, a side effect of pancreatic cancer. Now every time I get a floater I wonder if I have cancer. Weird how the brain can work you over like that.
But in the event I were ever to get bad news like that, I don't know that it would be death I'd be most worried about. It would be more about knowing that I did enough with the time I had. I'd like to think that I've had a pretty great life so far, even with the pain parts, but I don't know if I've really contributed. There's no real standard for measurement, I suppose. Big and grand gestures or achievements are one thing, but I think even small things can be big things. For example, I'd like to think that through coaching I've helped a young girl become a better and more positive person as an adult. That counts.
But then there's the recurring feeling that I get where I feel as though I might be getting bored with myself. It's like, I'm in my late 30's, and I don't feel as exciting as I used to. Or maybe I wasn't exciting enough when I was a kid. I'm not looking to be the life of the party, but I do want to go to bed thinking, yeah, I'm really embracing life.
It's like my body piercing fascination. I get the urge to get something else pierced all of the time, especially lately. I can't explain why, though having to take out the industrial in 2007 has a lot to do with it. I miss that. But now I ask myself if I'm too old, which is pretty stupid (especially since I got my first hole at age 31). Why would I even care what people think? See, it's that line of thinking that makes me bored with myself. I mean, I live in Seattle. Grandmas have piercings here.
Feeling free in a world of constraints is something often achieved by successfully improving yourself. That's pretty vague, given the aforementioned lack of objective metrics. It's hard to really identify your own expectations as well. I know people who spend so much time thinking about these things that they're completely miserable, so thank God I'm not like that.
I think some of this is just seeing how well life is going overall, and having time to devote brain cycles to other reflective tasks. The instances of death just kind of guide toward this flavor of thinking. Self improvement is not an all consuming task for me (funny to label body piercing as self improvement, I know), but you know, I want to be what I'm capable of. That doesn't seem like an unreasonable expectation.