I’ll turn 33* next week. At best this means that only one-third of my life has expired and realistically, given family history and average life expectancy, this means that I might be fortunate to have twenty-five years left before I pass away.
Dying scares me. Death, not as much. Aging has weakened my knees, limited what I can eat, adversely affected my energy levels, and lengthened my recovery times. It’s slowed my metabolism and loosened my skin. Aging has done an exceptional job of wearing me down despite my best efforts against it; there is nothing ever good enough to fight it off. Dying scares me because it makes me feel so incredibly helpless and weak. And it hurts. If this is how I feel at 33, I can only imagine winters at 45.
The act of dying is a lonely road. Death, not as much. We all die. It, with time, is the great unifier. It doesn’t matter who are you, President or grunt worker, you will die and you get no more and no fewer hours in a day than I do. Each individual act of dying is unique, painful, and something that no one else will ever be able to feel or understand. But we all know that we will die and so that unites us.
This simple truth of living gives me strength to make difficult decisions like quitting a job that everyone thinks is perfect, having conversations that are awkward and difficult, saying no to painful relationships, finding peace in my life far away from where I was born, or playing the game my way. There are simply not enough hours in our lifetimes to delay being our authentic selves without losing inner peace in the process. Given the choice of fear and change or unsatisfactoriness and stasis, I’ll take the former every single time.
That we will die helps me not care one bit about the trap of consumerist one-upmanship. It has enabled me to consolidate all of my worldly possessions into two suitcases, at most, and realize that we are but shadows and dust. I can’t concern myself with Things unless it’s my goal to make them better. I normally judge whether or not things are going well for me based on whether or not I’m feeling respected or acting with integrity.
Intangibles matter so much to me at this point in my life. Money is very low on my Is This Good For Me checklist. Relationships with people is very high.