What If We Don’t Live to be a Hundred?

“Old man take a look at my life
I’m a lot like you
I need someone to love me
the whole day through
Ah, one look in my eyes
and you can tell that’s true.” Neil Young

When we were young, the thought of growing old didn’t cross our minds- except perhaps in a romantic reference to a place we’d never be. We would never grow old. We would rather die than grow old.

Our heroes died young, living their lives like a stick of dynamite whose wick was burning fast and furiously.

“Twenty four
and there’s so much more
Live alone in a paradise
That makes me think of two.”

Then we merged and had children and reveled in the miracle of a thumb-sized hand grasping ours and a tiny mouth given life while cradled at our breast. We held their hands as they grew strong and we advised them as best as we could.

How to be in the world. How to exist amongst their peers. How to find a light in the dark. How to survive the heartbreak that is part of life’s passage and the love that cures it.

“Love lost, such a cost,
Give me things
that don’t get lost.”

Time passes at a rate that we’re told goes faster because the ratio of our current life to the big picture becomes less and less. At five, we’ve potentially lived only one/twentieth of a hundred year life. At twenty, it’s one/fifth.

But that doesn’t account for the times when life unaccountably slows up. When we sit in the waiting room of a hospital. Or fall from a great height to the ground below, feeling ourselves turn head over heels three times, slowly, realizing we might die at the bottom when our brain sloshes as our skull hits the concrete, but we inexplicably survive.

Or when we remember a luscious afternoon that we’re able to relive in our memory until it stretches for hours and hours, breathe after breathe, until it hurts because we want so much to go back in time and be there.

“Lullabies, look in your eyes,
Run around the same old town.
Doesn’t mean that much to me
To mean that much to you.”

Our children mature as we did, and move on to have their own lives. We continue hoping that they’ll cherish these days as we did not, and make the right life decisions.

At forty-five, we think: forty-five is half of ninety. We’re strong. We’re sexy. It’s the best time of our lives. Surely, we’ll live to be ninety or a hundred. Science tells us so. We’re only half-way there.

Then fifty. Fifty-five, sixty. The wheel is spinning faster. Hang on. We need to think clearly. Decisions have to be made. Every day is a gift. Not trite, but true.

“I’ve been first and last
Look at how the time goes past.
But I’m all alone at last.
Rolling home to you.”

How do we want to spend our days, now that we can see the period at the end of the sentence?



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