The heading on the flyer from the insurance company startled me (as it was intended to do): "Death is inevitable, but disability is more probable." The paragraph following cleared up the matter. At any age, all ages, being disabled is more probable than dying and disability insurance (no surprise) was the recommended response..
That flyer brought to mind the smiling, young, bouncy, bubbling-with-health food- proponent's face suddenly turning intensely serious and saying, "If you don't eat right, you can die." With matching solemnity, I thought, "Yes, and even if I do eat right, I will most assuredly die." Exercise and a healthy diet may lead to additional years of living and even more healthful living during those additional years, but the most healthful living cannot avoid death's inevitability.
On reflection, I began to detect, underneath so much of the faddish aspect of the exercise and healthy eating phenomenon, a pervasive, if unrecognized fear of death and the aging process which precedes it. Added to this is the rapid rise of body shaping (formerly called plastic surgery). In this fear we join people of all ages who have scrambled through magic potions and religious exercises, and now diet plans and tummy tucks, seeking to avoid or put off the inevitable.
This has caused me to reflect on my own death. My thoughts have been shaped by my father's death at the age of forty-nine. Knowing that death can come that 'early' (although the average life span at the time of the American Revolution was thirty-nine years--ten years less than my father's), I have considered each and every year after forty-nine an additional year of grace. If I were to hear tomorrow that I had a year, a month, a week to live, I would be grateful for what has been and not grumble about the loss of the unrealized years of additional life (well, perhaps there would be a few 'what ifs'). Gratitude for what has been and not regret for what will not be marks my life.
It's not just our elected politicians who resist term limits.
--Robert H. Tucker
29 November 1999
© Robert H. Tucker, 1999.
Go toMind Matters Table of Contents Page.
Go toBob and Maggi Tucker's Homepage.