Did you know that in a hundred years… let’s say a hundred and twenty or so just to be safe, not one of us here on this earth will be alive. Gone, moved on, passed away, kaput… dead!
Research confirms my suspicion…
But it’s not as though this is some new phenomenon. I did some research and interestingly, actually confirmed my suspicions. People have been dying for thousands of years. In fact, it seems as long as humans have existed.
Yet oddly, after all this time, it’s something we never really want to talk about. We treat this most common and predictable life event as if it doesn’t exist.
We even apologise for our emotions…
When a life ends for someone close, we even apologise for our emotions. Many will go out of their way, avoiding at all cost even mentioning the dead person’s name…. presumably concerned they may upset their grieving friend, ….worse, possibly even causing tears.
We fluff around with how we describe death, as another way to avoid this normal reality. Like we will say he passed away… where? I have normally reserved the more socially uncomfortable term for death, for the more faceless institutions like banks and insurance companies. I received a phone call just after my wife died. “Is your wife there please”, the caller asked. I asked what it was regarding. He told me he was following up regarding funeral insurance. “Sorry” I said, “you’re a few days late, she’s ….Dead!”
Research confirms just about as many people come into the world as leave…
My research also confirmed that just about as many people come into the world as leave. But by contrast to death, we have no problem accepting when a new life comes into the world. We have our little rituals. We goo and gaa at the new born. We comment how the new arrival looks just like him or her. We even openly show our emotions, whether tears of joy or laughter.
Yet when a life exits, for some reason we act as if it doesn’t really happen. It’s almost a societal secret, that in fact it’s mentally and physically healthy for those left grieving, to openly talk about their loss. To share with them their feelings, to freely express their emotions. So why do we inhibit our friend’s healthy recovery? I discovered I felt no lesser man for expressing my emotions at a time of deep grief. It felt so comforting talking about my loss. Nor admitting to crying myself to sleep each night. It felt so good.
We’re all stuffed…
Statistically, historically, whichever way you look at, we’re all stuffed. Not if. Just when. It’s only a matter of time. Of course as you get older, the probability of being surrounded by death increases. At the latter stage of life, funerals become part of your social calendar. I was talking to an old family friend, Lew at my brother’s funeral last week. He said “Oh”, (he always starts a sentence with “Oh”), “Oh I’ve been to a dozen funerals in this last week”, he said. “There’s more I could have gone to” he went on with his usual infectious hearty laugh. The concern he had though, was the more funerals he attended, eventually there’d be no one left to go to his own. That’s a tough call really. Do you go early and get a packed house to farewell you, or leave it until you’re the last one to fall, having only the Padre to see you off!
This death thing doesn’t just happen to other people…
I was always aware of death. Call me thick, but I eventually, came to realise this death thing doesn’t just happen to other people. I realised that when my Dad died a few years back. Then it really hit me when my wife suddenly died three years ago. So young. And death was confronted with again at now my brother’s funeral. It was the day his company had planned his retirement farewell party.
Such a stark visual. Once you’re in that box, that’s it. Game over. A once beaming face full of life that impacted those of us around in different ways, now silent, expressionless.
Which means just one thing to the rest of us. We can’t afford to wait. To wait as if we have some divine right that tomorrow will be guaranteed. It just may not be. This time it may not happen to the next person.
Later may not come…
Now I’m not suggesting we drop everything, all join hands and start chanting, nor pack up and suddenly take off. It’s more of an attitude. Instead of always waiting for later, because later may not come.
That must have been how my 85 year old mother felt. She’d had a rough several months, doing what no mother wants to go through as the death of her son slowly became a reality. As I was about to leave I mentioned the off chance opportunity of a motor home road trip. Within an hour of the decision, she was packed up heading off with me to catch a flight to Darwin to start this little five thousand kilometer road trip adventure south. Now that’s spontaneity!
83 year old Young John…
Or like 83 year old Young John, as I called this spritely Japanese American I met in Central America. He takes off for a few months each year to study Spanish at a language school in Guatemala. Or the women in their eighties people were talking about with admiration, travelling solo around the world.
Isn’t that what life’s about? Jumping out of our comfort zone, getting up from our life’s little woes and routines and taking on our personal challenge.
It doesn’t have to be travel but if that’s what gets you excited, don’t keep putting off what your heart is telling you. It may not be the next person whose health suddenly changes. That’s why you need to take a senior gap year… NOW!
If your serious, then you need to check this out…. myseniorgapyear.com/live-like-a-local-overseas/
Enjoy the journey. It’s not a destination!
PS – Guys make sure you have your prostate regularly checked. Don’t just rely on your doctor. Keep a record of the results and start asking questions if there’s any change.
PPS – WANTED: Male companion for 85 year old great grandmother and motorhome enthusiast, keen to relive past travel adventures. Must have zest for life. Strict terms and conditions apply!
PPPS – Don’t tell Mother I included that Wanted note above!!
Follow and like the the My Senior Gap Year page at facebook.com/myseniorgapyear