Today, while thumbing through the New York Times, I stumbled across the Obituary section. I don’t know why I started reading the Obits; I live in the UK and don’t know a lot of people in New York, but I did.
After about 20 minutes of reading sad, short, snippets about the lives and deaths of these strangers I (surprisingly) came face to face with my own mortality! Right there, staring me in the face!
I too am going to die.
It was unnerving (to say the least) to realise… no seriously, to REALLY REALISE, that I am going to die! And based on the ages of the people I just read about, it may not be that far off!
Jay Fishman, 63
Bill Lenkaitis, 70
Juan Gabriel, 66
George Curry, 69
I turned 62 in May of this year and I am absolutely astounded by this fact, because in my head (and in my heart) I’m about 35, at the very most.
Today’s surprising realisation was particularly poignant, because I think I do death pretty well. Over the years, when faced with the demise of a close friend, loved one or stranger, I have calmly and methodically;
anticipated the death,
considered the death,
prayed for the death,
been humbled by the death,
welcomed the death,
and ultimately, accepted the death.
As I said, I truly believe I do death better than most people.
I talk about it, read about it, sit with it; I am comfortable and totally open to it. So to actually be a little freaked out by the fact that I am going to die, was surprising!
However, upon further reflection, throughout the day, I realised that I am not so much afraid of dying, as much as I am afraid of dying before I do the things I always thought I’d do, before I died.
Does that make sense?
The way I figure it, if I’m lucky, I have maybe 10 years left. If that’s true, when am I going to Nepal? How the hell old will I be when I walk the Camino de Santiago? At what age will I finally move into my little country cottage, with the front and back gardens? The home where I’ll live the rest of my life and die in. Will I be too old to drive my vintage Mini Cooper, when I finally own it? When will I figure out what I want to be when I grow up?
WTF? Am I running out of time!?
It seems as you age, time has a way of passing much more quickly, than it did when you were young. I’ve been told that and it definitely seems to be true. However, I’ll be just as surprised by my death as you, when it happens. And I’m going to be mad as hell too, because I’m sure there will still be some really cool things on my “Bucket List,” which I’ll never get to cross out.
Time is precious.
Time is fleeting.
Time evaporates right in front of your eyes; like watching a teaspoon of sugar in a glass of warm water. One second you see a million, beautiful white granules swirling around, then the next second you see nothing, but crystal clear water.
We all know time is precious. Yet somehow we all get all caught up in the bullshit and trivia of our own little lives and we forget (all too easily) that we too come with a “Sell by” date. We may stick around for a bit longer, but we won’t be at our best, and eventually, we’ll be forced to go.
So… after this epiphany… I’ve decided, next Sunday, I’m going with the London Times and instead of reading the Obits, I’m going to read the Real Estate Section and then perhaps the Classifieds… because my vintage Mini Cooper is out there somewhere, and I’m going to claim her, before it’s to late.