With so many birthdays among friends and family this week, my thoughts have been dwelling on life and the journey we take across time. Sometimes, long before we expect it, death creeps up and starts to follow us as we pass from one day into the next. At first we ignore it, like the shudder you feel going up your back for no reason at all. It is easily and quickly dismissed. After a while it begins to make its presence a little more known and we begin to see it, barely. At first it appears out of the corners of our eyes. We turn and nothing is there. Just a figment of our imagination. Slowly, we start to feel its presence draw closer everyday. The chest pains after a night of indulgence, the high cholesterol reports from our doctors, or the near miss accident on the way home in rush hour. It is always there like a naughty little fairy toying with our emotions and enjoying the thrill of fear, despair, and paranoia it brings as it approaches closer with the passing hours.
In our minds we are the picture of youth, with the energy to soar us to the clouds. How do we picture ourselves? Eighteen, twenty-five, thirty two? Personally, myself in my mind I am twenty-three. Then one day by chance we catch a glimpse of ourselves in the window of a coffee shop, or a full length mirror in a department store. We instantly turn back to look in the other direction to see who was walking in our place. “That couldn’t possibly be me!” Perhaps this is what sparks the human condition, aptly called the “mid-life crisis”. Our lives are passing before our eyes and there is so much left to do, so many places to see, rivers to cross, mountains to conquer.
And then it begins, Buying the Harley Davidson Motorcycle, although you have no idea how to ride one. Daydreaming about implants, after years of silently criticizing anyone who underwent the plastic transformation. Purchasing the gym membership that will take your first born child faster than Rumplestiltskin if you default on the membership. Staying up late to catch all the infomercials on the latest beauty, exercise, diet and anti-aging products on the market. For just 3 easy payments of $19.99 you can get your youth back! But wait if you call in the next ten minutes......open your eyes, It is 2 am and sleep deprivation is not the path to youth.
My brother believes that each human has only a certain number of heartbeats for a lifetime, and once you have reached your quota, this existence is over. No matter where you are or what you are doing, your life is complete. You can call it an atheist’s view of predestination, but we all only have a certain amount of time, and death trails us from the crib to the coffin. Should we run and hide? Should we try to cram five lifetimes worth of achievements into one? Should we forget about self gratification and turn to a life of servitude for others? It all could depend on what your views of life after death contain, but that is another topic entirely. For this mere mortal, all I can do is hope to fulfill at least a few dreams on this journey. Raise responsible and caring children, tend to the earth and her injured ones, explore the lands and seas, and write my heart out. As my profound six year old says, “Mommy- life is like a bullet train, it never slows down.” I don’t mind it slowing down, I just hope to give all I can before it stops.