My grandmom is going to be 90 at the end of February. 90. That is, like, really old. But she's still very much with it. After a recent visit with her, I kinda just stopped and thought for a while about what it means to live that long.
(Warning: the self-aggrandizing thoughts of a deluded blogger lay ahead)
I have a hard time seeing myself alive past, say, 35. Tack on another 55 years and I mean..wow. That's a lot of living to do. And when I think about the things she's lived through, and continues to live through, it absolutely astounds me. Even in the last few years, she's buried her husband and her two oldest sons. And that is something that is incredibly difficult at any age. I don't know that I have that kind of inner strength or resolve.
I don't know what the average age of death is right now. But I'm sure my grandmom has passed it. But the average person, let's say, will live to be somewhere between 70 and 80. And in that span of time, the average person will meet a situation in which they must make a life altering, or saving, decision. In the course of that 70-80 years, this will happen, for the average person, maybe, MAYBE 4-5 times. I'm excluding those whose professions put them in danger every day. Cops, fire fighters, soldiers, etc...
But if you agree with my premise of how many times we are actually in danger, or something life changing or crucial to our very being will happen to us, it kind of helps shape your perspective on things. Because that means that, ultimately, all those little things we get pissed off about just don't matter.
Yeah, in the short term it could be the difference between being up a few bucks or Ramen noodling it for a few weeks. But it won't be something you remember for the rest of your life. I try to keep this in mind whenever I start to get worked up over something that, frankly, isn't important.
And those things you can't control, fuck 'em. I don't believe in fate. But I do believe that some things are out of my control. And also, I know that in the grand scheme of things, I matter very little. I mean me as one human being. It's true. Now, the things I do, write, say and what have you, yeah, those things could matter. But me, myself? No. And that's something important to keep in mind. Because when you take the emphasis of how things affect you, you open yourself up to a world that is remarkably, beautifully unaware of you. And I've found that all those pressures that I thought were being placed on me by the world and by outside forces, they were coming from me. The calls were coming from inside my head.
I think it also helps you to see the world unselfishly. The phrase "it's not about you" is something I keep in the back of my mind. I make a conscious effort to enter into every situation with as few presuppositions as possible. This, in turn, keeps my ego in check and allows me to actually gain something from my experience, rather than shape my experience to fit whatever ridiculous idea I had going in.
If you're still reading at this point, I hope you were able to glean something from this. If nothing else, appreciate the elderly. They've been where we've been, and are living blueprints to help negotiate our ways through the mundane and insane. So if you're lucky enough to have your grandparents still living, give them a hug and a kiss. And fucking listen to what they have to say. Because even in adult diapers, they are way, way smarter than us.
Happy birthday, Grandmom.