If I really knew

Apr 20 2017 Published by under Uncategorized

One of the legacies of my economics father is reading blogs that are very different from my life and political view. They are infuriating, sometimes, but I have learned.

One of these is Marginal Revolution, which my father would say is written by two rational economists, and I would say is written by... well ... more conservative thinkers. I recommend it as thought well written thought provoking and from a corner of the internet that scientists do not usually traverse.

One of the things I remember was a thought exercise that one of the authors posed (I love the internet. This was from 2005. It was still there.)

If  I thought, nay, if I *knew*  that I was going to die  very soon (a week? A month?) what would I do differently? And if I knew I was going to live for another (very productive) 30 or 40 years, or was immortal in their consideration, what would I do? The author's answer was "travel" to both conditions and the last sentence of the post was "I leave for a solo trek to Machu Picchu July 25. " (aside I am totally pleased with myself that I remembered he was going to go to Machu Picchu).

Lately I have been stuck, almost paralyzed. This would be surprising to anyone who sees me, as I have gotten great swathes of work done. I have done marvelous things with my friends, and I have planned three trips that matter, including ones to see aging mentors (something very important to me).

But I am feeling emotionally stuck. I am feeling time's winged chariot pressing on my back, and yet do not know how to deal with said chariot. So I asked myself: what would I do if I knew my lifespan?

If it was going to be measured in weeks or months, I would do what I think many would. One gathers loved ones close. One is more tolerant of children and partners and the next ring out: sibs and cousins and ex-s. For me, I would try (most futilely, I am sure, having tried before) to contact the brother who has not spoken to me in 30 years. I would tell the people that I love just how much I love them. And then, I would travel.

If it was going to be many, many years, what then? I am not so sure about this, and there is my problem. When one is young, when *I* was young, eternity stretched before me. Oh, there were immediate crises of funding and tenure and partners and children. But one didn't, *I* didn't think about dying and getting things done before the end of time. Who the heck does?

When one is young, even losing people, be it to the finality of early death, the negative unearned run that is someone else's fault, or the unmitigated stupidity of someone you once loved leaving you, may feel like unrecoverable. Yet, one figures out how to go on, one figures out how to pick up one's life and find some joy again. Not everyone. Not every loss. But mostly.

I have found, that as I have aged, and lost people in this, my seventh decade of walking the face of this earth, that finality seems, well, more final. And the emotional buoyancy that has served me so well is becoming frayed.

What would I do if I had 30 more years, of physical and mental health? I do not know.

 

 

8 responses so far

  • David says:

    The other day, someone told me about checking an item off their bucket list and asked me what was on my list. I sheepishly told them I didn't have a list. And now I'm trying to decide if I should make one.

  • becca says:

    I should really write a letter to my future grandkids about what life was like before the internet...

    • chall says:

      I remember taking to my grandmother about growing up without a water toilet. And this was in a regular normal house in the 1920ies back in Sweden. I was surprised, but not as surprised as when my mother told me that her first room she lived in, in stockholm in 1960ies had an outhouse on the backyard... The leaps and bounds that has happened in the last 100 year, not to mention the last 25 years (everyone has a cell phone that is a computer vs "there's a phone booth on the square"). mind boggles at times.

  • chall says:

    I think this has been something that I've tried shifting the last couple of years. After a friend had their parents die unexpectantly and myself going through a divorce, working through the whole "if I died in a year - what would I do" and then try to adapt my life a little into that direction. Not spending all the money now and have nothing in a few years, but also not saving it all since you never know if there will be time in 25 years to do "that thing I've always wanted". Maybe the biggest difference for me is to implement it on a regular day life, not "save my free time to the day in the future" but trying to have a small moment every day where I do something that I've decided is important for me to look at my life feeling that I did something I wanted.

    if this make sense?

    • potnia theron says:

      Very much sense. Where we chose to fall on the grasshopper< --> ant axis (spend vs. save) is hard. A small moment each day sound wonderful.

      Also... see next post 🙂

      • chall says:

        "the small moment each day" is a dream and a hope, sometimes more attainable than others. Currently my workout fall into that category since I know I feel much better if I keep up with it. My small dream is to write a book at some point... but that's ego talking.

        looking forward to next post!!

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