In the second half of my 94th year (which sounds so much more elegant than “at 93 and a half”), it is impossible to not think about my mortality.
And every day the quality of my life, minute by minute, becomes more important. There is so much that is compromised already: the aging of the body that makes everything take longer, the disabilities that narrow my options, the current pandemic circumstance and other more local and personal obstacles.
Every new twinge is interpreted as a portent to the end, and the mind starts rattling off the many ways it could happen, horribly, or preferentially. Is this sore spot under my left armpit my heart giving me clues, or did I just sleep wrong last night? Uh-oh, this new ache in the small of my back: is it that silent killer, kidney disease, or did I pull a muscle when I reached for the phone? Guess I gotta wait, and if they are gone tomorrow, then perhaps I have a little time left. Meanwhile, there are things I have to finish doing before I die…….
And the existential questions insist every day: keep taking the meds and vitamins and health-maintaining meals? Why? We are still on shelter-in-place restriction, mask-wearing mandate, social distancing, all of which reduce the quality of our times alone and together. So many of my daytime hours are already of low-quality habits, non-nurturing distractions, empty soul-dragging pursuits.
Maybe it is time to let go of this life and let it end peacefully if possible. I have personally known the scourge of clinical depression, but the low moods I experience these days are different in quality and texture; they are in response to the actual events happening out there in the world, and are the normal diminishments most of us are feeling these days. It is the kind that can be assuaged by a pleasant distraction, a good book, a really funny sitcom, a good deed done, an inspiring conversation with a friend, but as long as these conditions last, the distractions are only temporary.
I guess that’s better than nothing.
Vilma Olsvary Ginzberg ~ 08.22.2020