A friend on FaceBook recently “did the math” and determined that he has been walking the planet for 18,705 days. Intrigued, I did a fast computation on my calculator and determined that I’ve been trudging along for about 20,075 days. WB made the observation that “…upon reflection it seems more like a run than a walk….” And that got me thinking about how those 20,075 days have gone by faster than I would have ever believed they could have when I was at just 7,300 days. At 7,300 days my life’s future seemed to stretch out endlessly…now I am learning that the future is right now.
Yesterday was “Call Mom Day” — every 2 weeks I call my 81-year-old (nearly 30,000 days) mother down in Los Angeles to check in on her & my Dad — and most of the time the chit-chat is rather mundane. She tells me about their doctor and dentist appointments and the strange goings-on in the neighborhood and I tell her funny stories about church and church people and the numb-nuts Princeton graduate who lives next door and of course that good old standby, the weather. Yesterday was a tad different however — my mother talked more than I did. Her best friend’s husband had died about 2 weeks ago & her friend had just recently called my Mom to tell her about it. I was kinda stunned. I had never met the man (he was the 2nd of 2 husbands & I only met the 1st one), but my Mom has known her friend BD since I was in 1st grade (when I was 2,190 days old). My brother and I used to play at the beach with BD’s kids during the summer and I even did a bit of “babysitting” for them. Their (real) Dad used to drive me home in one of those big classic 1970s red Cadillacs and for the longest time, I wished I could have a car like that — how times change! Anyway, BD’s 2nd husband was 85 when he passed away 2 weeks ago — he had been sickly for many years and when faced with the choice of another round of dialysis for his failing kidneys, he opted to pass on that and die at home. So BD is in that numb stage of mourning and I could tell that my Mom was a bit shaken even though she never knew husband #2 very well.
Which brings me back to the subject of Time. Although, of course, I can’t predict how or when I will die, I am now at that point in my life where I can kind of “count the days until.” There is no longer the luxury of daydreaming about things I’d like to do…now if I think something’s worth doing, well, I’ve got to do it. (Or at least, die trying…ha ha) Each new death that I learn about, whether family member or friend or friend of a friend or church member or animal companion or celebrity, I am faced with a reminder of my own mortality. (It still boggles my mind that there is only one of the original “Golden Girls” still alive.)
So I’m working on doing what’s truly important to me. I have always wanted to “be a writer” and even though I’ve written volumes of pages throughout my life, I would never in the past give myself permission to call myself a Writer. It wasn’t until I heard writer Anne Lamott say that a writer doesn’t have to be published to be a writer that the light bulb lit up. I AM a writer — god gave me that talent to use & to please myself and others — god did not say, “Thou shalt be published or else it doesn’t count.” So I am a writing Writer.
Many years ago, I gave myself permission to drop out of the corporate business world and not have a “real job.” And then I came to dread that small talk question, “So what do you DO?” because the answer often expected of me was that I was some kind of “professional.” When that expected answer was not forthcoming, some folks would look at me like I was speaking a foreign language. Eventually, I parlayed my love for animals into a small pet sitting business and I am happy with that. Some folks still look at me as if that is not a “Real Job” (I guess because I am not killing my soul working in buildings with no windows), but, well, as dear Wanda Sykes would say, “I don’t give a sh*t.” I am happy, my canine and feline friends are happy — what else matters?
I am working on being more thoughtful about the things that I volunteer for. Do I really want to spend 2 hours of my month sitting at a table for a church Board of Directors meeting? How precious is that time to me? Does an outside activity pass the “cat test”? Would I be happier staying at home with my cats than going out and driving just to be “doing” something? And what is my intention behind the doing?
I guess the one thing that I can say with certainty is that I probably don’t have 20,075 days left. I am beyond the half-way mark. I hope that I can do and be who I am for the rest of my days. I hope that I can be brave like BD’s husband and let go without regret when it’s time.