Skip to content

50 is halfway to nowhere I want to be

February 9, 2011

Do I need to be able to hopscotch at 80?

Think about it: every other birthday you’ve had is halfway to somewhere you can actually see yourself going. Not 50. 50 is not a promise, it’s a threat.

At least when you turned 20 or 30, you said to yourself, on some level, “okay, I can see to 40; I can see 60. I can do that.” Not so when you hit 50, because who in the hell wants to be 100? I know, I know; there are always diehards who refuse to leave a party. They’re having too good a time to leave when the hostess gives them that oh for god’s SAKE go home glare.

But my suspicion is that people who want to live to be 100 don’t want to give up. They’re too afraid to let go. But, as you know by now, I’m cynical and worry a lot, and 100 year-olds scare me. They might think they’re strong, and society might tell them they’re strong, but they’re as frail as birds. I’m always terrified, watching one of them as they shuffle along, that they’re going to fall down and break something, and then that will be that.

The list of advice on how you live to be 100 is pretty terrifying too, if you think about it. First of all, they want you to live an active life, to avoid osteoporosis. Right there, that means you’re gonna fall down. The longer you live, the more active you are, the greater the likelihood you’re going to sustain injuries. So now you’re older and in pain, which was totally unnecessary. No amount of Russian yogurt is going to solve this problem.

This is the result of elderly people staying active, so watch out!

Then they suggest you stay married. Are they insane?? Who wants to be married their entire lives?? What, like, to the same person?? You’d lose your mind!! There’s a reason to kill yourself early on, if I ever heard one. I can understand serial marital monogamy, where you cut out, and switch partners from time to time to avoid dementia. I don’t know about you, but the idea of having to listen to the same stories for 40+ years makes my brain tumor throb.

If you didn’t live to be 100, but left the party at a reasonable hour, like a good guest, you wouldn’t have this problem. Oh, and don’t encourage your spouse to live that long either; that’s just mean. If you ever loved this person, remind them of how much physical pain they’ll be in if they live to be 100. Maybe that will be enough to convince them to leave you alone later in life, when you’re more tired and irritable anyway and not very good company.

Maintain your ideal weight is the next suggestion on the list of how to live to be 100. Now, this one really makes me laugh. My “ideal” weight has always been a number some actuarial table designer made up when he was in a bad mood, and now I’m supposed to set my scale to that number and live by the dictates of the actuarial table man’s bad mood for the rest of my life?? No. So right there, I’m helping myself leave this mortal coil at a reasonable hour, and not try to stay out past my curfew. Believe me, when the bill from the nursing home comes, you’ll wish you’d listened to me, instead of extending the amount of years you’re gumming tapioca under the watchful eye of some Nurse Ratched.

The next suggestion is so cruel as to be a prison sentence of its very own: drink moderately and don’t smoke at all. Okay, wait. I have to qualify this. I don’t smoke at all, so right there, I’m dooming myself to longer life than I intended. But there are many who do smoke. My own mother, a two-pack-a-day-addict who preferred flights to places like Libya and Q’tar because they still allow passengers to light up, was heard to mutter that she was adding another nail to her coffin with every intake of nicotine. But what happens when you’re depressed and you want to drink to excess? Are you going to stop yourself, saying, “Wait! I’m shortening my lifespan by a year or two!!” Hell no. You’re going to suck it back and weep, because most of us live in the now, not in the dubious promise of living to be 100.

Have good genes. This one’s out of my control, and no one in my family, except my grandmother, an anomaly, lived past 85. My grandmother was also the only one in her family (other than her father, who was elsewhere at the time) to survive the Spanish influenza of 1918. My grandmother was a tough old bird, and died at the advanced age of 94, but she also believed the Catholic nuns were stealing her money and muttered to herself. This is not how I want to go out, thank you very much.

Next, eliminate unnecessary stress. This implies that there is necessary stress. The entire idea of “eliminating unnecessary stress” is good for a laugh, and laughter is good for alleviating stress, so thanks for that suggestion, oh-person-who-thought-this-stupid-stuff-up. Before I get started on a rant about stress, I will quell it by saying: is there a person alive right now who doesn’t feel like their head might explode at times due to excessive stress, even on a good day? I have plenty of days when I feel entirely calm, but I am realistic. Stress is not so easily dealt with, even if you meditate, even if you’re nice, even if you’re going to Heaven.

Much of surviving life involves ways of finding ways to avoid or ignore stupid people, who cause a lot of stress. If you live a long, long time, you’re going to have to add something to the list, which is to learn how to avoid or ignore or rise above stupid people. Since the next suggestion is to find ways to have respectful and close relationships with people, good luck on that one. Your respectfulness isn’t going to eradicate their stupidity, so you have your work cut out for you, for the next 50 years.

Click on this, cause this is too small to read even with your glasses on

Finally, there is the injunction to live simply. I think this means use white soap and wear the same bedroom slippers for more than 10 years. No one I know “lives simply.” I do not “live simply.” I don’t even know if we remember how to “live simply” anymore, not with the ability to buy whatever we feel like having in the moment from the big store down the freeway.

I watched a documentary about a woman in Norway who is trying to “live simply.” Do you have any idea how complicated it is to make soap, to make candles, to make sure your goats are milked before 5 a.m.? What does “live simply” mean if it doesn’t mean making your own soap? That’s one of those really silly ideas that just makes you feel old faster, and wears down your knees, because most people who “live simply” have to scrub their own floors and milk their own cows, and I can’t afford to buy an entire farm just so I can live to be 100.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: