Getting Older Ain’t for Cowards
Enjoy yourself it’s later than you think ~ Chinese Proverb
Originally published in 2014
I had an interesting day on Monday. Of course there is a quote, that most people consider a curse, may you live in interesting times. A little nerdy side note, I read an article recently about the origins of this quote, apparently it’s not an ancient Chinese proverb. But Monday felt a bit like a curse in the way it went down. I went in for elective surgery but it never happened, my blood pressure spiked and so they canceled me out. Then of course I was sent to a specialist to see what was causing the spike. The cardiologist then heard a murmur and so now we have blood tests, new medications, an echocardiogram and a stress test. Hopefully everything is ok, the new medication lowers my blood pressure and I get my surgery rescheduled.
Knowing you are mortal
But the whole affair, particularly opting out of risking a stroke for an elective procedure, got the wheels turning. A conversation with a friend who is also having some health issues really gave the wheels some juice and at that point John Mellencamp came into my mind. That’s right, the same guy who put out songs like Jack and Diane, and Little Pink Houses did an album in 2008 about getting older and dying. It’s a really spectacular album entitled Life, Death, Love and Freedom. There’s a track entitled, Don’t Need This Body, that is really amazing and not at all what you are used to from John Mellencamp. The first line is the title of this post, this getting older ain’t for cowards. It certainly isn’t, and it really isn’t when you finally come to truly understand that you’re mortal. I told my friend while talking to him at the end of my long Monday, that the reason we feel the way we feel is that at our age we finally KNOW that we are mortal.
This is not a trial run
As far as I know, hell as far as anyone knows for sure, life is a one-time event with no encore. You can take that in a morbid direction but that’s not how it is intended nor how I mean to take it. You see there is positive inspiration in this idea, it gives life a poignancy and makes time an extremely precious commodity. I’m a little weird in the fact that I’ve understood this from a young age. Partially it comes from the fact that the first significant death in my life happened when I was five. My maternal grandfather, someone I spent a lot of time with as a baby and toddler, passed away at the age of 49. Throughout my life that number, 49, weighed on me, I understood that maybe that’s all you get. I also understand that our medicine is better, but that I suffered from the same ailment that killed him so long ago.
Then, as a teenager I had friends die, drowning, hit by a train and three suicides. All of them died before their 20th birthday, one as young as 12, so I knew that maybe that’s all I would get. That’s the depressing side, the hopeful side is my paternal grandfather who not only lived to 90 but got in a street fight at 87. These have always been my brackets, today to 90. I have always feared not getting enough time, so I’ve always tried to make sure if I wouldn’t have the time, I would work hard to get as much life as possible in the time given.
Live for the moment, plan for forever
There is a dichotomy that I try to hold in my mind, you can find it in a lot of quotes. Live for today, celebrated and enjoy every moment, but never fail to plan for the future. Holding those two thoughts at once is not always easy, but for me, incredibly necessary. Hence, I prepare for retirement, but I take my chances at adventure whenever I see them. I am trying my friends, to squeeze out as much life as possible out of however many years I get and my hope for you is the same. I write a lot about my adventures, some of the best, photographing polar bears, hiking on the Appalachian Trail, and hiking in the high passes of the Himalayas. Hopefully I’m just getting started and hopefully you are too my friends and having many happy days. ~ Rev Kane