When half of your life might be behind you

posted by Jeff | Sunday, January 4, 2015, 7:07 PM | comments: 0

I saw the news today that one of the ESPN anchors who has been on TV forever died of cancer today. Ordinarily I probably wouldn't notice except that he was 49. Diana is about to celebrate another birthday, and of course I'm officially over 40 now too. It's like we're at that age where people we know die.

I've generally tried to accept that death is unavoidable, because no amount of worry is going to change that. I remember as a kid that wasn't easy. When you're 6, people tell you things like the world is going to end in 2000 (at which time I would be 26), and you will believe almost anything kids tell you at that age. As you get older, people you know die of old age, unexpected illness and completely random accidents. I'm not sure that anyone gets used to it. The best I can do is to be happy that I had experiences with them and focus on that angle.

But what about when it's you? Even if you do survive all of the things that can cause you harm, there is a point at which you've got more years behind you than you'll have in front of you, and that can be a little scary. It's the basis for a solid midlife crisis, I would think. (I'm still not sure how mine will manifest itself.)

I know that a lot of people use faith as a tool to cope with their inevitable demise, and I have no issue with that. For me, I suppose the biggest thing is that I simply can't do anything about it. There are a few things in life you can't change, and this is easily at the top of the list. I think I spent a lot of time worrying about things I couldn't do anything about, probably for the first 30-ish years of my life, and that certainly didn't do me any good.

When I say there isn't anything you can do about your ultimate fate, it's true. That said, it doesn't mean that you can't entirely kick ass with whatever you have left. That's where you put your energy. That doesn't mean doing radically stupid things because you're worried that you're running out of time (though I get that it may include that anyway). It's normal to juxtapose what you did with what you could have done, or will do, and my hope is that it leads to creating the most amazing now you can conjure up.

I have no idea what that looks like, but it's pretty clear most of the time what you need to avoid. Negative people and situations certainly top my list. Ditto for people who have no optimism or hope. Ain't nobody got time for that.

The only thing I really fear about aging is that I'll get stagnant, and stuck in my ways. I see it in other people much younger. I don't understand the process where people, with time and experience, believe more that they have everything figured out and become inflexible. My road so far has only shown that rigidity does not serve you the way that flexibility does.

In any case, I'm pretty excited about my second act.


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