Sunday, November 2, 2014

Why I Don't Hope to Die at 75

Some people just get better. With age, they are more creative, wiser, better at what they've been working at their whole lives.
In this essay, in the New York Times,  we read of such aging dynamos  -- businessman T. Boone Pickens, Supreme Court Judge Ruth Ginsberg,  jazz musician Roy Haynes, naturalist Edward O. Wilson, and painter Carmen Herrera -- who, by the way, sold her first painting at 89 and is now 99.
Of course, this is what we want to hear. People exuberant about living. Refusing to stop. Relishing every moment. We don't really want to hear what Ezekiel Emanuel provocatively declares in his essay, "Why I Hope to Die at 75," in the Atlantic magazine.
Shocking words -- which is exactly why everyone (of a certain age) is talking about it. Yes, most of us will slow down. Yes, most of us will ail. Yes, Dr. Emanuel, thanks for reminding that the best is in the past.   But as the Times writer Lewis Lapham points out in his essay, citing a 1777 letter by Dr. Samuel Johnson:
"Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully."
Which is why I recently challenged myself by racing with my cousin/niece who is 20+ years younger.  We didn't care (too much) about how long it took us. Mostly, we just wanted to finish.
Kati and Dotty after Head of the Schuylkill race

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