Sunday, October 09, 2022

Note to Self

Mark Asmus is still 6'6", has maintained muscle mass and carries himself like a young man.

Understandably most conversations with peers turn to age, ageing and the insidious encroachments our afflictions, injuries and limitations are making on our bodies and psyches. Every few weeks my friend Mark Asmus and I meet for lunch to sort the world’s festering ills and to contemplate our inevitable descents to less than we are now. He and I have approached or entered our eighties relatively unscathed but recognize that our good luck can go sideways in a heartbeat. We’re surrounded by evidence of that reality.

Both of us look at certain of our fellows living lives we hope not to live. And we worry about our tolerance for frailty and serious discomfort. We think we have little.

I told Mark, “I’m not hung up on duration which is not to say I want it to end. I’m one hell of lot more interested on the quality and the content of what’s left.” You’ve heard me say it too many times. I must believe it.

He concurred with my premise and said we should talk more often even if we are in an echo chamber physically, socially and politically.

The topic and the spirit of our talk wasn’t a dark as it sounds. He and I see the inevitability of losing health and function as an admonition to enjoy the hell out the Good time that’s left. Italics provided for emphasis.

I reiterated my belief that you don’t want to look back and say, “I wish I had.” And, further, what’s wrong with my contention that our mission in life should be to enjoy ourselves, and to have experiences that excite us and that we'll remember always?

A couple of weeks back I got an eblast from a high school mate whom I haven’t seen since, well, high school.  He had learned how many members of the illustrious Class of 1959 at Tempe Union High School have departed for a different place. 62. Yup. Sixty-two members of our class of 185 have returned to the earth or the ozone or wherever the hell our corporeal selves are deployed when we stop inhabiting them.

His cover message was a downright chipper, “It sounds pretty amazing to me.” That one-third of my classmates have been rocketed to Bye-Bye Land sounds like crap to me, Larry. I still want and still can do just about everything I’ve ever wanted to do. And, importantly, the spirit, and hunger for adventure burn bright. The rub, so far, isn’t the ability. It’s the will and temerity to make it happen.

Do what you want to while you still can. If one third of your contemporaries have departed planet earth take note. Make the adventure you’ve been putting off happen. Master Spanish, blues guitar, or quantum physics. Kiss your loves ones more. Much more.

If I’m sitting in a wheelchair sporting a catheter whether I’m 82 or 91 and I’m lamenting that I didn’t do what I wanted to do when I could do it I won’t be a cute little old man.

I know this. Aside from Mel Brooks and Norman Lear there are no young 90-year-olds.


Blacks Crossing said...

Another truly stellar piece of prose, Amigo. We are lucky to have friends, the likes of you and Mark Asmus, all 6'6" of him, with whom we can take great joy, and discuss both our limitations and strengths. And whose mere presence makes us grateful and motivated to get out there and kick butt in whatever we do. Your last two blogs make me yearn for a book to pick up whenever I feel the urge, and read the words you write with such eloquence. Here's hoping that is in the works. Until it reaches my greedy paws, I'll appreciate and be satisfied with your Monday blog. By the way, I do believe that on some level, those discussions about the world and its ills may result in more good all around. Muchas gracias, Esteban!

Steve Immel said...

I love "greedy paws." Makes me giggle. Your kind words give my day a lift.

Anonymous said...

Definitely food for thought and we are all fortunate to have friends like Mark. To add to the list of cool 90 year olds...check out Iris Apfel, Joel Grey, William Daniels, Robert Wagner, Rita Moreno, James Earl Jones, Bob Newhart, Barbara Eden, Clint Eastwood, Dick Van Dyke, Gene Hackman, Harry Belafonte, Barbara Walters, Dr. Ruth....well list is long.....thank goodness...... still time for fun youngster!