Your friends and relatives, people you know, keep dying around you. They die suddenly or from a protracted illness. People you went to school with keep dying and class reunions get smaller and smaller. Friends die in automobile or airplane crashes. They die from autoimmune disease, cancers, CO VID, from many different sources. Death is unexpected or takes a long, painful time to come. Why them and not me?
Many people are living past 100 years of age. It’s still rare enough for reporters to visit them and ask the foolish question: “How did you do it?” How are they supposed to know? Was it luck? Good longevity genes? No inherited diseases? Diet? Exercise? Drinking half a bottle of Scotch a day?
Diet gurus will tell you it’s the diet and point out this population or another that has lived long lives based upon eating only fish or a vegetarian diet. But others living long lives without fish or lots and lots of vegetables. No one seems to have an answer.
We have a saying, “only the good die young.”
What does that say about the rest of us?
Aren’t we good too?
An elderly priest once said he thought it was because he had more to learn. More time to become the person God meant him to be.
And I wonder about that. Is it true?
If so, I seem to need to learn more than my friends and relative who have died.
If so, what am I to learn?
I don’t need to go back to school. My working career is over and I am in retirement, so formal schooling doesn’t seem to be the answer.
Perhaps I need to learn to be a better friend. Perhaps I need to learn to love with the simplicity of Mother Teresa. Whatever I need to learn, it has to be within my capacity to learn it, practice it and keep it. As an erratic person–inconsistent in all things–I start from that flawed base. Along with my inconsistency, I am an impatient person, impulsive in thought and speech.
And as I sit and ponder these questions, I wonder how long it will take me to learn these things.