Inescapable Mortality

because death

Let me start by saying this is not one of those posts where I have answers or inspiration.  When this post is published, I will be spending the day at Disneyworld with my parents, wife, and kids, enjoying life and  likely not thinking about this post at all, but actually making the most of my time, which is not usually the case for me.

I’ve written a bit here and there about reflecting on the past, and subsequently wondering what my reflections would be 10, 15, even 20 years from now.  Today I got to thinking – I’ll likely be a grandparent then.  I think about my grandparents and how adored they are by the family, and the love they have for all of us grandkids, and for the most part I can’t wait!  Weird, right?  Being 35 years old and planning for grandparenthood?  more on planned grandparenthood in a later post…

Thinking about the future is not all warm and fuzzy.  Not all of my grandparents are with us anymore.  At some point in the extremely distance future, my parents will also be gone from this world, and eventually so will I.  How will I feel about my life and my legacy at that point?  What if I don’t remember anything or anyone from life?  What if I end up suffering from extreme mental or physical disorders?  As a teenager I volunteered in a nursing home and I met some amazing people, and some really scary people who suffered greatly.  I watched a man die from Emphysema, and watched a woman bite a nurse and scream at us.  I gave a 110 year old man his first popsicle (He was in amazing mental health, so I’m pretty sure he hadn’t simply forgotten) and heard him say “If I had known these were so good, I’d have had one years ago!”  I can’t help but think that those individuals may not have been so different than me once… and look at them now.  At what point will I no longer be able to take care of myself or my wife?  Will she put me in a home?  Will I put her in a home?  Will our kids put us in a home?  Will we die helpless and without dignity?

This isn’t the first time I’ve had this conversation with myself, briefly petrified with fear; but I didn’t get where I am now by being afraid, and if I let fear control me, I will end up in a home somewhere, biting the help.  It is really all just more reason to put everything I have into every moment I have right now, because otherwise it’s all just wasted time.  Which then brings to mind the fact that I don’t take advantage of every moment I have.  I look for instant gratification (fast food, video games, sleeping in, carbs) instead of long lasting quality of life type stuff (exercise, family game night, travel, friends, fish and kale).  It’s too easy to put off that which might require a little effort, but the result is that I am constantly unhappy.  Which in turn cannot be good for my mental and spiritual health.  How do I keep the positive feedback cycle of depression – inaction at bay?  How do I ensure that I don’t end up some vegetable who can no longer take care of himself or his family?  This is not just for me, either.  Most of the people I know make similar decisions.  Most of the people I know fall into the category of overweight or obese.  Most of the people I know are high risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.  It is quickly becoming most of the county.  Another topic for a later post.  I digress…

The point is that reflection, while generally a good thing, can be scary; making me feel old and unaccomplished.  Anticipation of the end, though.  That is some scary shit.

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