Some Early Morning Thoughts in November

Late yesterday, a young, unusually pretty woman — I would guess a college student — took out a lease on the apartment across the hall from me.   I briefly met her and she seemed pleasant and outgoing.

That was several hours ago.  Besides thinking she’ll probably make an OK next door neighbor, I’ve been busy with other matters — including catching some sleep — until just now, when it popped into my head: “Her youth and beauty reminds me I’m growing old.”

Yet, that kind of thought is not so strange anymore.

About the time I turned 50, which was almost four years ago, my mortality started to become more real to me.  Part of that new and improved sense of mortality has been that I find more and different things remind me of it.

I have been surprised, however, to discover I am not disturbed by this keener sense of a coming end.  I always thought I would be disturbed to become increasingly aware of my mortality as I grew older.  Yet, so far at least, I am far more curious about my mortality than I am upset with it.

Perhaps that will change.  It will be interesting to see if it does.

Suddenly, I wonder what my new neighbor would think if I told her she reminds me of death?

I reckon I’d better keep that thought to myself.

9 thoughts on “Some Early Morning Thoughts in November

  1. It is a little disconcerting how much younger college kids are looking these days. I’m a few years younger than you are, Paul. But not many. My Mike is 56. Things are definitely changing in subtle ways — I never used to have to watch what I ate and never put on a pound. Ah, the good old days. But yet life is somehow better, fuller, more meaningful, than it’s ever been. Maybe I’m fooling myself but there does seem to be something to the phrase, “Older and wiser …” Maybe we’re merely becoming wise enough to laugh more and not take ourselves so seriously?

    Cool post.

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  2. I so much agree with what you’ve said!

    Now and then, CD, when I get together with some of my offline friends who are near my age, the conversation turns to how much better living’s been now that we’re all past 40 or so.

    The hormones are less dominant; the judgement less clouded by them.

    Yet, not just in sexual matters, but in all matters, you see things more clearly; the gaze is more level. And so many things that once brought pain, confusion or seemed insurmountable, merely provoke a smile.

    When I was much younger, I had a lot of questions. Now I have a lot of answers: Now I understand things I never understood before.

    There’s a downside to age, of course, but I think the upside is more often ignored in our youth oriented culture.

    Thanks for the compliment!

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  3. Has this awareness of your mortality changed your actions in any way? Do you approach situations and opportunities differently with this awareness?

    It’s funny you should bring this up. I was on the phone the other night with a friend (in his early thirties like me), and we reflected on what it means to have our lives one-third over. For me, awareness of my mortality is an impetus to live life fully, to take in as many experiences as I can with the time I have.

    Of course, maybe being in my thirties isn’t all that old. A middle-aged guy I volunteer with affectionately calls me “that damn kid”. 🙂

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  4. I am 62. Each day, each hour is more precious to me than it was before, since I know that death is closer. Which (sometimes, not always) helps me to overcome preoccupations that seem silly in relation to this new perspective.

    PS
    Paul, I wanted to add something to my other comment but this day has been too hectic.

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  5. Welcome, Ahab! I seem to recall that you have commented on my blog before now, but that it was some very long time ago?

    I would like to say that becoming aware of my mortality has prompted me to make the most of every day. But that is not so. Even with a growing sense of a finish to life, I still waste a lot of time. Old habits can be so hard to break.

    The main thing this growing awareness has done is provoke my curiosity.

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  6. Yes, of course Paul. I much less accept the mortality of my wife, and children, and of dear friends, and of mentors, for example. The death of my mentor was a terrible thing. When other important for us persons die they leave behind a terrible void. While when we die, we just die, and all becomes slumber – I hope without nightmares 🙂

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  7. Is it wrong for me to thank you, Paul, for making me feel young? I was in agreement with you about seeing a college age girl (or person, 20-something men look very young too) and thinking about my mortality… and then when you mentioned being over 50 I felt like such a kid! I’m only 38, and it’s good to be reminded that just because my knees and back are starting to bother me more that I’m still plenty young.

    And I’ll try to take some consolation in the fact that you and others are enjoying life after 50, as I’m getting all anxious whenever I realize I’ll be 40 in 18 months.

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