Toward the End
I have been 50 years old for a while now, and it has been a turning point for me regarding the way I think about life. Most importantly, I have been thinking about things and prioritizing things on the basis of how much of my life remains.
I don’t know how long I will live, of course. However, my ancestors have lived to be about 80. My father is 80 now, and his health has reduced his quality of life quite significantly: his eyesight, his mobility, and now perhaps his mental capacity. So based on that, I assume I have something like 30 years left on this earth, and 20 years of nearly full mobility.
If my days are numbered, then so are my activities. There are only so many books I will be able to read between now and the end. Is a given book worthy of being included among that number? The road bike I bought last year could be the last road bike I buy in my lifetime. Should I invest in Canon’s new R-mount camera and lens system, or should I try to make my EF lenses last for the rest of my life? Does it make sense to keep adding hunting rifles to my collection? Is hunting even an activity I should devote time to anymore?
There is also the very real concern that I will not be financially prepared for retirement. Buying toys is an impediment to my retirement savings. Why should I buy toys that I may only use a few times, or in some cases never?
Then there are also questions about fulfilling the purpose or meaning of my life, whatever that is. I have concluded that some people leading externally meaningful lives, but most people do not. I have not, and I am not trying to. Fulfillment is something that I do for myself. Goals are chosen with the knowledge that they will mean nothing to anyone after I am gone. If I ever do anything of lasting value to others after my death, it will be an accident. This includes my family: I have no offspring, I have not been a part of the lives of my nieces and nephew, and no one will mourn me when I’m gone. I don’t live for them. I live for me.