Saturday, January 23, 2016

I'm Glad I'm Old (Part One)

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...Well, mostly. There are, of course, certain downsides to being sixty-something in spite of the fact that sixty-something is the new 39. My eyesight is slowly getting worse, and so is my hearing. Of course, my hearing loss is primarily due to all those rock concerts I went to when I was a hippie with a job (and a fondness for personal hygiene) in the seventies, not the advent of my geezerhood. I'm cool like that. Though I live with other age-related maladies, none of them are life-threatening -- at least that I know of -- I admit I have a tendency to ignore my medical problems until they become medical issues. For the sake of clarity, in my version of reality, issues is a word that does not have the exact same meaning as the word problems. To me, issues are problems that have gotten out of hand.

In my defense, my late wife had health issues, lots of 'em. They were not age related, they began at birth and were caused by the fact she was born prematurely and subsequently administered oxygen therapy because of underdeveloped lungs. The good news is that this kept her alive, the bad news is that the therapy itself damaged her lungs and eyes and led to lifelong health problems issues, for her and no shortage of other preemies. So be it. However, during our 21 years together she spent a lot of time dealing with doctors and a lot of time in the hospital. Here's hoping you (and I) don't ever have to endure something of a similar nature. I found out the hard way that there is no shortage of well-intended quackery loose in the world and why hospitals accidentally kill hundreds of thousands of people every year. I admit to a (semi) irrational fear of the American medical establishment.

Except for Dr. John Bellany, an avowed atheist. If it turns out he and I (agnostic) are wrong, he will still be welcomed into heaven with the cosmic equivalent of a ticker tape parade. As for me...well, I'm cautiously optimistic, but there will definitely not be a parade.

[What? Oh...yes Marie-Louise, I do seem to be drifting over the fog line, thanks. But certain things really do need to be said.]

Other than the increased likelihood of  health problems/issues the only other objection I have to getting old is dealing with ennui, or, been there done that/is that all there is? syndrome. I suspect that I may be even more at risk for this sort of thing than the average old fart because I suffer from early onset ennui, which I've had since I was 16. Rather than bore you with the details I would point you to a song entitled, "Is That All There Is," composed by Leiber and Stoller. The definitive version was recorded by Peggy Lee and can be found on YouTube. Check out the recorded (skip the live) version, orchestration by Randy Newman. It's hard to believe that this was a top 40, award-winning song, particularly in comparison to the dreck that's on the radio these days. I also remember...

[Sacre' bleu! (For the record, I understand real French people don't actually use this phrase but far be it from me to pass up a cheap joke.) You claim to be glad you're old but so far all you've talked about is illness and ennui!]

Sorry, M-L, I was just clearing the decks, here comes the glad part, sort of.

The thing I enjoy the most about getting old is being comfortable in my (wrinkling, stretch marked, skin tagged, etc.) own skin -- literally and figuratively. As concerns the literal state of my skin -- and teeth and hair and my lazy eye and an advanced case of disappearing butt syndrome and no shortage of other imperfections that all continue on a forced march in the wrong direction -- so be it, so it goes, it is what it is, c'est la vie and the hell with it. I'm mentally/emotionally/philosophically at ease in my own skin because the following cosmic truth was revealed to me via a styrofoam cup filled with diet Mountain Dew purchased from a Dairy Queen in Deadwood, SC when I was a driftin' and a searchin' for my roots that had the following message printed on the side. Do you have any idea how rare it is to find diet Mountain Dew available fountain style?

Life is what happens to you while you're making other plans.

If this is not obvious to you, yet or still, for whatever reason, stop reading now. I don't want to waste your limited and valuable time. Sorry, but I believe I'm living on the planet Earth and that you're living on the planet Denial and I don't want to waste your time. Take care, see ya when, and if, you get back.

As you ride the river of life, if you live long enough and/or are smart enough to have mastered all the prerequisites necessary to obtain your SSC (Sexy Seasoned Citizen) credential, you will be blessed by grasping the ramifications of the statement above. An enlightenment of sorts will take place. Some, unable to deal with what may, at first, be like a sucker punch to the gut, will flee to planet Denial, never to return. Others will need time to adjust before accepting the inevitable.

You don't have all that much control over your life, you never have. You are definitely going to die. You need to live, accordingly.

You may be dead before reaching the end of this _______ (you can hear the tone of the heart monitor going from beep-beep-beep to beeeeeeeeeeeeeeee in your head).

You may live for years and years, and I hope you do, assuming you're fortunate enough to have good reasons to keep getting out of bed in the morning. While this may not seem like we've gotten to the glad stuff yet, it is, and I will explain in detail why, in my next post.

[Marie-Louise stomps out the room, cursing in French under her breath.]

You don't have all that much control over your life, you never have. You are definitely going to die. You need to live, accordingly.

If you're not starting to a glad buzz yet, I'm sorry, the deck clearing is over. Please consider the following. If you believe in an afterlife of some sort it doesn't really matter if I'm right or wrong. Most folks that believe, believe in a version of one of the following two scenarios.  Either you'll keep coming back until you get it right and achieve nirvana. Or, you will be judged, and 99.9% of you will be welcomed into paradise. Warning: There is a theologian or two that might quibble with my take on the matter.

God is infinite, by definition, which implies that she has an infinite capacity for love and forgiveness and doesn't share your distaste for those hoopleheads that don't believe in the same rules of the road that you do. Also, 99.9% you know in your heart that you're doing the best you can, so relax, and keep up the good work(s).

Or, if you believe death = oblivion you'll have nothing to worry about since there will no longer be a you. If your wrong, the 99.9% rule still applies.

Next week I'll tell you how I try to live, accordingly.

Have an OK day.                                                                                  

©Mark Mehlmauer 2016


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