Friday, January 14, 2005

Peacebang Celebrates Natal Day

Thanks for asking: I'm 39 and not given to coy evasions about that fact. Given my tendency to "live" in the 19th century, I am amazed at how long our lives are getting ... a century ago, I would have been dead in childbed by now. Or from the influenza or stepping on a rusty nail. Or from drowning, as Margaret Fuller did in her late 30's in full sight of shrieking observers on shore, her skirts billowing around her as she went down in a shipwreck off Fire Island. Her dear friend Henry Thoreau died in his early 40's of an ailment that a round of antibiotics would have taken care of in a jiffy, if he'd had access to them. Our lives today are so much longer. Are they good-er? (I don't mean better, which is an entirely individualistic measure of quality. I mean more good. Interpret as you will).

Aging is fun when you're approaching 40, and I'm enjoying it a lot. I hated being a child, I had fun teenaged years, emotionally devastating early 20's, then climbed my way into my own manic, overstimulated version of deep contentment in my 30's. Life is intense and therefore constantly engaging, and I don't expect it to carry on for decades and decades and decades. Aging is not fun when it turns into an exhausting round of doctors and worries, financial burdens and loss of independence. So while I'm socking away money for retirement I'm also a card-carrying member of the organization End-of-Life Choices, formerly known as the Hemlock Society. I wish they had kept the old name. It had so much more gravitas and philosophical resonance. Also it always makes me chuckle, because I'm that one girl you know who is far more comfortable keeping vigil in the death chamber than in the room where someone's giving birth. THAT freaks me out.

I don't think Americans have any idea how prohibitively expensive it is to live a really long life in this country. By the way, you might want to check out what the darling Mr. Bush has in mind for your social security benefits:

But meanwhile, l'chaim. To life!


Blogger Chalicechick said...

First off I do think that life is getting better. After all, I'm 26. Years ago, I would have been most of the way to death. That would really suck as life is just now starting to get really interesting.

It's funny, people talk today about kids "growing up too fast," but that speed seems like it would have been even more appropriate when the kids were halfway to death at 20.

Of course, in some countries in Africa, 26 is still halfway there.

I've noticed in the past that only artists and scientists are seriosuly worried about getting enoguh wotk done before they die...

Blogger PeaceBang said...

Hi Chalice Chick, interesting comment. When you mentioned the notion that "the kids are growing up so fast," what occurred to me was that, with our current infantilizing obsession with "working out" childhood issues, seeing each other as perpetually "wounded children" and with so much of our population living at home and depending on mom and/or dad economically well into our thirties, I'm not sure we're growing up at all!

Blogger Chalicechick said...

I think Robert Bly wrote a book on pretty much exactly that subject. It was called "the sibling society" or some such.



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