Most folks don’t like to think about growing old and what that entails. But that’s because they assume they will grow old. That is a bad assumption. Because growing old is a privilege, not a right. A privilege not all of us will have.
If you’re over 50, you almost certainly know people who did not grow old. The brother of a classmate drowned in elementary school. A classmate died of cancer when we were high school seniors. I almost died as an infant.
Lately, a number of people I know have died. About six weeks ago, the best man at my wedding, who I knew for over 30 years, died; he was in his mid-50s. About two weeks ago, the husband of a high school classmate died. She was about 19 when they were married in college in 1971, almost 45 years ago. Some of my readers may not even be 45 years old.
This week, one of my high school friends in his mid-50’s died suddenly while on the way to work. Luckily, he was at a stoplight and so there was no accident which might have injured or killed others.
And when these “early” deaths happen, the reaction is always the same: disbelief and shock. Because it is assumed we will live into old age.
I’ve lived hoping and planning that I will grow old. But I’ve also lived knowing that might not happen and so focused on doing it today and not “when I retire.” My bucket list is very short because I’ve done most of what I want to do.
Take a moment to think about how you would look back on your life if you learn tomorrow that you have a few weeks to live. I would say “Thank goodness I did the important things while I was younger and had the energy and health and yes, time, to do them.” You can always make more money. But you cannot make more time. And we do not know how much time we have. Assume it’s not as long as you’d hope for.