I remember being about 16, lying in bed, and thinking weird thoughts. Part of being a teenager, right?
This was in the early 1960s, when life was far simpler, but for a teen it was still complex.
Who was I? Who would I become? Would I ever have a wonderful husband? What about kids? Did I even want kids? What would my adult life be like? I could barely figure out how to be 16; how would I ever figure out how to be an adult?
And then my thoughts turned darker. What if I didn’t live a long life? What if … what if …
My 95-year-old grandfather had died recently, so I’m guessing that’s at least one reason my thoughts went in that direction. Not that we’d been close or anything, but seeing my mother cry and be upset certainly had an impact. His death was the first of many relatives that I was old enough to be aware of, so it hit hard. It created a sadness that I hadn’t experienced before.
Suddenly, as I lay in bed, an idea that I’d never really paid attention to before hit me, hit me in a way that went to my very soul. I knew, for an absolute certainty, I would die someday. I wouldn’t be alive someday. There would be an end to my life as it was for my grandfather. As it would be for my mother and father, brother, cousin, friends … and me.
Me. Someday there would be no more me. I remember shivering and feeling a deep sense of doom. Of dread. It was hard to breathe. The enormity of someday not being alive was suffocating!
Heavy stuff for a teen, I assure you.
I remember packing those thoughts away, burying them deep down, vowing to never think of them again. And to a certain extent, that’s what happened.
My life – as most lives do – didn’t live up to any expectations I had; how could it? We don’t know what we don’t know, and we can’t foretell the twists and turns that fate will deliver; all we can do is ride the waves we’re given. I will say my life has so far turned out far, far better than I could have imagined.
So why this now?
Because there are so many articles coming out here and on other platforms about the legacy we want to leave behind, once we leave this earth, at least in our bodily form. What would we want others to remember about us?
Articles about who we are, what choices we’re making, how we’re surviving and even thriving in this world that so suddenly – in 2020 – crashed on top of us, knocking us to the ground, knocking the breath out of us literally and figuratively – creating the need for deep thought.
Who are we? Who do we want to be? What dreams either died suddenly or at least need to be completely rethought?
What can we keep doing, and what needs to change?
What ideas are finally coming out of the closet into the light that we want to help with? That we want to embrace? How will we do that? How will we do our part to ensure that the ideas remain alive, that we walk the walk and don’t just talk the talk, while we’re still here?
All this from a distant memory of a girl on the cusp of adulthood, knowing so little about life, and coming to this time – this age of 74 – still alive and kicking, living a full life, learning, helping. And she’s still with me; she makes her presence known every now and then, motivating me to keep at it, whatever “it” is, to keep moving forward … until.
What are your thoughts, friends? What are you doing in this enormously tough time to make our world even better than it’s been – while you still can?