A few days ago, I had an opportunity to meet up with a good friend for a beer in Victoria. As is always the case, our enjoyable discussions tend to be wide-ranging, yet always include an update on each other’s lives. The normal stuff: kids, aging parents, jobs. We also spend a fair amount of time chatting about our perspectives. What has formed our world views as individuals; and how some of these views tend to change with experience while other stay rigidly the same. As we are both of the same vintage, we also seem to speak increasingly about how quickly time passes us by.
When it comes to age and aging, we are both on the same page. First of all, at 48, we are firmly in Middle Age. In fact, since we could conceivably live to 96 these days, we are the quintessential middle age people; we are, so to speak, the very essence of middle age. Still in the prime of life, yet with an experienced and, perhaps, cultured edge to us.
Okay. Once you stop laughing I will continue…
Yet, in spite of our continued yet perhaps slightly diminished mojo, life can be very tenuous at the best of times. This, we also agreed on. We could walk out the door tomorrow morning and be taken out by a bus. Or by a helicopter.
Yes, a helicopter. The following is the title of an article that for some odd reason I cut out of the Vancouver Sun in 2008…
“Crashing Copter Kills Student Mailing Letter Home to Kenya”
This is very strange and disconcerting on a whole host of levels, not the least being the fact that I felt compelled to cut this out in the first place. But here is this guy who travels all the way to BC from Africa only to be taken out by a helicopter. I mean, honestly. Who does that? There’s more of a chance to win Lotto 649, or surely to be hit by lightning (especially lightening since this fellow was 6 foot 9; he was like a moving lightning rod).
Anyway, my point here is that we never know what is to face us tomorrow. Whether there is a figurative helicopter trailing me too, just waiting to take me out when I least expect it.
Life’s austere like that, I guess. Naturally austere. We all want to slow the stopwatch. To tack more years on to what is already too short of a life. And while we have very limited control over how long we are here on this earth, we do indeed have control over what we do with every minute, every hour, every day that we have. That is a decision that we make.
For me, this Year of Austere is teaching me to appreciate the day. To better understand what is truly important. That below all the clutter and excess of life, the real, true life exists. Just waiting to be experienced. Just waiting for all of us.
If I have one hope in this undertaking, it is that we as a family and perhaps those of you who read these posts, might take just this message away from them.