Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and wiser, but I’ve noticed that things which now bring me to tears are less the everyday instances of hurt, pain and sadness and more the unexpected moments of joy, reconciliation and serendipity. Maybe as the years advance we become so accustomed to tragedy that we’re more easily moved to tears by sudden simple beauties which were always there before us but at an age when we believed the world owed us more and it blocked our vision.
The less time I have left the more important I find it is to plan a clean exit on a high note guided by simpler truths.
This, and the wrinkles, is how I know for certain that I’ve grown up.
◦ So here I am at home serving what feels like a few months beginning of an indefinite life sentence, isolated while the rest of the world is busy getting back to social normals. I’m not angry, but I do miss their healthy freedoms that if risked, with high probability would be the start of the end my life. I hold first prize in every high risk category. Age, male, diabetic, ex-smoker, hypertensive, heart disease after three cardiac arrests, and treated with 28 daily medications, now seriously questioning what was once an abundant faith and if this worry is even worth it any longer. I now work from home, have few visitors other than socially distanced masked people I suspect are my family and then only rarely. I rely mostly on my kids to run my errands and when I take the rare solo journey out, it’s only when absolutely necessary, brief and followed by a monotonous routine of home sanitizing rituals. I’m not a buyer of all the media hype and exaggerations but I have seen the pained suffocation of those dying on ventilators and the many makeshift morgues for the dead around the world, afflicted once before entering a losing battle with far fewer preexisting conditions than I bring to the table. Unsure if masks, sprays, gloves and sanitizers even work anymore, they’re the only presumed deterrents to increase statistical probabilities of staying alive. Despite my occupation, I don’t feel very essential and this same 1,285 square feet has become a monotonous four-month detention center for working, eating and sleeping—not always in that order but all for which I remain very thankful. Despite what this has come to and so many differing and argumentative opinions, I often feel very much alone in mine and largely misunderstood by younger, healthier people unconcerned for themselves for legitimately better reasons. If I’m to be safer, I vow it won’t be dependent on the actions or inactions of others but entirely up to me and the boundaries I set and keep perhaps at the expense of not being quite fully human. Living rationally and reasonably all my life in nearly every other dimension, my living parts are starting feel a little less alive, occasionally paranoid and maybe even mentally unfit.
All this to say that I’m fairly certain I’m not entirely alone in these thoughts and like those others, won’t be immune to the insensitive criticisms we’ve come to expect as a result.
Not whining here, just offering a personal glimpse to affirm those of so many others who still feel very much the same but have been shamed against sharing it.
The sheer brevity of our existence makes the spending of it on noble, enduring purposes all the more critical. We need far fewer flashes in the pan and far more firestarters of causes that will long outlive ourselves, spark others to follow and stoke embers for the next generation. Life extinguishes too quickly to spend it on anything less fierce.