Fly on the wall

In lieu of real content (and sneakily recycling part of an older blog entry) I am going domestic and present a snippet of some e-mail between Sofia (my significantly better other half) from 13-June-2006.

We always start by asking if the other one is at work.

Sofia: So, are you there yet??

Me: Where?

At the final destination of my life's journey?

Did you know that Ken Thompson died yesterday (or the day before)? He was 82. He was also Canada's richest man.

Sofia: Yes, I heard it on the radio this morning. So, how are you husbandito?

Me: Half my life is over and my wealth is nowhere near $1 Billion. sigh.

Sofia: Well, you still have the other half of your life to make it happen.

Me: > You mean the half of my life when my body and mind start slowing down, falling apart and begin acting as an impediment rather than something I can rely on?

Sofia: > Whether your body acts that well or not it is entirely up to you. If you take good care of your body, you can still rely on it.

Me: Sure, you can eek out a few extra days, but in the end ... there is an end and I am at a point in my life when I see the approach of my journey's end.

Here is something I had written down about 7 months ago:

Sometime over the past 2 or 3 years, I have shed any and all delusions of being immortal.

Intellectually I have known for a long time that some day I shall die. But, it was a far and distant destination beyond my power to observe.

Now I am mortal; a human whose existence inexorably grinds its way to his final breath and heartbeat. I raise my eyes and in the distance I see my journey's end - a barren and desolate land, windswept and cold. A lonely cairn testifying that I am no more. Freed from the burdens of sadness and loneliness, denied the joys of loving and cherishing.

Nevertheless, I expect there are at least another 30 or 40 years left in me, but ... it is still sad to recognize ones mortality.

I have passed from the Summer of my life into the Autumn. I expect it to be a long and glorious Autumn with bright and vibrant colours. A sunny Autumn with leaves burning with burnished brilliance. The next stop is Winter whence the days shall grow shorter and colder until nothing remains but cold and darkness.

"I am forty years old now, and you know forty years is a whole lifetime; you know it is extreme old age. To live longer than forty years is bad manners, is vulgar, immoral. Who does live beyond forty? Answer that, sincerely and honestly I will tell you who do: fools and worthless fellows." – Fyodor Dostoevsky, 'Notes from the Underground'

Sofia: Rich, you can choose to see a glass half full or half empty. It is true that you cannot stop the physical processing of aging but for the rest it is up to you. Although your writing is nice it is so dark and gloomy. Come on Rich, cheer up. We have two small children. All I want is to live for as long as I can and be strong for them. I just wish I had achieved more than what I have at this point of my life, but then again I have been away from professional life for many years. We make choices in life and we have to live by then.

Me: Don't worry, my mental and emotional state are quite good (except for that scare I got last night when I heard Tania and JJ call out for me) [while in that twilight realm of blurred reality which lies somewhere between consciousness and sleep, I experienced the voices of my children crying out to me for help – Richard] - even when I wrote that piece, my mood was good.

It is simply a reflection on the fact that there has been a transition (actually a number of them) in my perception of self. One of those is regarding my own mortality. Up until fairly recently, my mortality was not an issue. I felt I was going to live forever - or, at least, long enough.

Now I do not feel that way. So, the urge to achieve things is greater in me than it has been in the past. I simply cannot afford to wait until a "better time". I need to act now.

The glass is half empty. I have drunk half of it. I don't want to end up like the kids when we go to a restaurant, where they finish their drink before dinner and then wish they had some to go with their meal.

No one is going to pour out a little bit of their life for me.

Image liberated from here.


ghee said…
oh,you post a lot! I missed your previous post :)

hey,Richard,dont tell me that you belong to those who worry being 40?

"Life begins at 40" right?

`ts will survive,besides,men with wrinkles are cool thn women :(

uh made me worry too...after how many years.. :)
Richard said…
I try to write 1 blog post of around 3 paragraphs per day (weekends are optional).

Sometimes it is challenging to find topics that can be concisely expressed. Other times, I have a ton of ideas and suddenly go blank in front of the computer. bleh.

I am not one who obsesses about being 40. It is just that I have come to a point in my life when I realize that I am no longer immortal and time is more precious than ever. Never having had the discipline when I was younger to manage my time, I worry the habits of my youth will cause me to waste away the precious little which remains to me.
I can tell from reading Sophia's writing that I would like her very much! :) (It should be obvious by now that I already like you...) ;)
Lunafish said…
I think you hit it when you spoke of your kids calling out for you. Our family is our great treasure, more than the $1B. I've seen people who keep themselves alive and happy by saying "I just want to see my kids graduate from High School" then they change it to "I just want to see them graduate from college" then "I just want to see them married with children" then it becomes about the grandkids. The cup keeps filling no matter how much you drink.

The absolute best times of my life came in my 40's (at least so far) because I had more courage and felt like if I didn't have the experience, I might never. It's also the "pass it on" place in life where others with less knowledge rely on your words and deeds. Don't miss the good part by hanging your head down.
Sassy Lady said…
I find that when u reach the age of 20+..the time becomes faster and the next moment u know you're way past that age and already into the 30s..

I havent reach 40 yet but Im sure it is a turning point for most of us..

I also dont think its abt the wrinkles or money but its all abt what u have achievedin life and what u would want to achieve in the future...

I know I have wasted a lot of my living years..hee
Richard said…
MIO: Sofia is very easy to like - it is me that takes time to warm up to.

lunafish: I am not down (fortunately that time seems past). As I have mentioned in previous posts, I continue to feel better and stronger.

sassy: Yes, each stage of life (roughly divided into decades) seems to bring different expreiences and perspectives. They seem to be more prominant in other people than me (I tend to be pretty much the same from year to the next). And yes, I have noticed that the older I get, the faster time seems to fly. I remember waiting until I was finished school so I would have more time. sigh.
Mum2One said…
I think psychologists call it the mid-life crisis! LOL. It's true! It's very real and valid. Most people go through it at some time in their life or another. It's all healthy. Nothing dark or morbid unless the transition doesn't take a turn for the better. Doesn't sound like it's happening to you. Thanks for the Spore post. I'll listen to it soon!
Richard said…
mum2one: well I definitely went through a dark period, not sure if it was a midlife crisis or teenage angst (never went through it).
Coffee fairy said…
I think what you are feeling is a good thing. Why? Because you want to feel immortal maybe because you know that your existence matters to the people you love, that you live your life for a purpose that you know, to continue to be proud of your children as you see them grow and turn into adults...
Funny that as a 26 yr old single gal, I, on the other hand, am afraid of immortality and time dragging by because I am afraid to live and get tired to exist for myself...
Richard said…
coffee fairy: I think life is far to wonderful and wondrous to want to give it up. There is always something new to experience and explore, to learn and to share.

Look at all the neat experiences I am getting from blogging. Interacting with people on the other side of the world.

The only thing I worry about, is failing to live up to my potential. I don't want to die saying: "If only ..."

When I was 26, I remember a lot of my friends saying things similar to: "I feel I haven't accomplished anything." And I was thinking, "Gee, I going off to university, in a different city, I am going to have an adventure." And fortunately, it turned out to be a fantastic experience - much better than the other two times I had moved cities (which were total disasters).

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