I spotted a Wall Street Journal story back on Jan 26 that
made me pause and think a bit. Quoting statistics from the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it reported that
the average man's life expectancy (based on 2013 stats) is 76.8
Since I have passed my 76th birthday, a quick calculation
would give me about eight more months, give or take a week or
two, on this tired old globe. What should I do with those precious
months? I posed that question to a half-dozen people I often
see around town, and here's what three of them had to say:
Cemeteries make one pause to reflect
Dan Kenney: "Well, this is an interesting moment out
of my day. Let's pause for a second to reflect on this thorny
question, what would I do if I knew I had 8 months to live. Let's
also assume I am of sound mind and body. I would hold those I
love closer, spend more time being and less time doing. I would
continue to work on the issues of hunger, health, poverty and
justice that I presently work on. And I would make sure that
I saw every sunset."
Mil Misic: "If I found out I was going to die very
soon, what would I do? Answer: Same thing I have been doing.
It is probably chutzpah (a Yiddish expression meaning a lot of
nerve), as in the case of a child murdering his parents and then
throwing himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.
If I haven't done well up to this point, how can I possibly make
amends in the short time I have left for all the wrong things
I may have done in a lifetime? A man hoeing his garden was once
approached and asked this question. His reply: 'I'd jest keep
on hoein.' That is all any of us can do. If we are satisfied
with our lives ... just keep on hoeing."
Clark Neher: "I am one of those fortunate few who
have had a marvelous life filled with positive times from childhood
to old age. In my last eight months of life, I would like to
build on these great moments. First, music has been, perhaps,
my foremost love, and so I want to attend great operas and symphonies
in the finest houses in the world, certainly including the Met
in New York City, Covent Garden in London, and the Vienna opera
house. Returning to these sites will remind me of the unimaginable
perfection of the human spirit. Second, I want to travel to Southeast
Asia, the place where I lived many years and learned about how
diverse and fascinating the world's cultures can be. I want to
immerse myself in Thai life and be reminded why I so admire that
part of the world. Finally, in my last eight months I want to
assure that my wife, children and grandchildren are in the best
position to be enthralled with and touched by life's blessings."
They were all so introspective that I need another week
to give it more thought, then make my own list. Meanwhile, maybe
a few others will share their thoughts with me on this topic.
Stay healthy; If all goes well, I will be back next week
in this same spot.