No, I am not being morbid. I like to think I am being a realist. Being a retired Public Health Nurse, I also believe in capacity building and anticipation of the odds.
I am touching on this topic like my tongue roots around during a dental exam. Exploring. Feeling the sensation. It doesn't hurt, I am just trying to get a feel for what's going on where I can't see.
So, when I talk about being next in the queue, I mean, I am next up in my family to pass on. I am one of the elders now. I don't mean I am in the acute process of dying, well I guess technically I am- some say from the day we are born, we are dying. I will die sometime, that is a certainty, hopefully later than sooner. I am saying all but one of MY elders are gone. My oldest sister and I talk about that. She notices it too.
My daughter thinks mentioning being next in the queue means I am sad, or depressed. But those of you my age know what I mean. I am not sad in that way, of course I miss my Mom and Dad, that part of elders being gone is just plain awful. I have older sisters, but we are in the queue together, lined up like lemmings, oldest to youngest. Realizing, and it is a really weird realization, that we being the elders in our family now, are next.
I am wonder struck. How did this happen? I don't think I have paid attention to time passing. I have been consumed with marking time, working, making my way, raising children. I did not think about how spending time "looking forward" means you are not living in the here and now. I don't feel old except I don't have the stamina I did have. I feel 40. Those of you reading this that are under 40, remember when you see an "old" to you person, they don't think of themselves as old. It's a bag they wear (as Carrie Fisher would say).
I want brakes. I want to slow this down. I have a lot of places I want to see, things I still want to learn, things I want to do, and quite the stash to go through. MOUNTAINS of projects. Borders on hoarding.
So. When I want to feel encouraged, I realize that there are people, I don't know them, but they are out there, that are 1-3 decades ahead of me, still alive, so technically, they are next in that queue. That makes me feel like I have a bit more time until I bite it. But. Bite it I will, someday, and time is ticking. Watching parents die brings mortality home. If your sense of mortality wasn't there already through other experiences in life, it comes with the departure of our parents.
What to do? What do you do? How do you think about it? How do you put on brakes or do you accelerate? I say I want to put brakes on, but really, I like pushing the gas pedal a bit. I don't have as much to lose and everything to gain by going for it.
I love the growth and development experts (and I love T. Berry Brazelton). Especially Erik Erickson. He suggests generativity vs. stagnation. I agree with that. Share, pass on, encourage, mentor.
I also make plans with timelines, lists- things done are fun to cross off, I prioritize. I realize this rings a little bit in the looking forward category- that dies hard. I think of things in terms of if not now, when? I think of things in lifetimes of dogs, maybe I will get to have 2 or 3 more in succession, again, if I am lucky- can't imagine a life without a dog, just can't- I measure time in lifetimes of objects like roofs, paint jobs, appliance replacement- some things I won't have to worry about replacing.
I figure I have time to change what I don't like now, so I am a bit more daring and more pragmatic. I don't put it off and sometimes, I just don't care what others think. Time to stop being afraid to love deeply, be who you are and live gloriously, risk. life's too short, literally- and really, I refuse to worry about what I won't be around to worry about- I am passing that torch.