Saturday, September 22, 2007

After 40: Every moment is Grace

After 40:Every Moment is Grace. Human life is always very tenuous and temporary. People in most parts of the world just seem to accept this fact. However, here in America we cheat death and challenge death at every turn. We see ourselves as miracle workers. And compared to life in the 19th century we are miracle workers. But in the end life as a human being is very temporary. Even if in the next centuries some of us manage to live to 100, 200, or 300 or more, still recognizing the relatively temporary state of being any one human isn't very long in the overall scheme of things.

Since I had whooping cough at 2 and then got Sunstroke at 10 and then had Childhood epilepsy from ages 10 to 15 I definitely realized young that life was temporary. My best friend from age 10 through high school until Viet Nam happened had also had polio and had almost died. So the two of us were much more serious in our attitudes about life from an early age than most people we knew. We also tended to be more polite and gentlemanly than most people our ages.
Because he didn't walk well until he was about 6 he compensated by developing young very strong arms. So in junior high he had the record for the rope climb for about 20 years because he didn't use his legs at all in the rope climb, only his arms.

In my 20's I didn't really expect to live to see 30 years of age just because the world seemed so crazy then. However, looking back at all the time I've lived the least crazy were the 90's and the 50's. All other decades were equally crazy as hell. What I mean be this is that there was more a feeling that we all might survive on earth during the 50's and the 90's than any other time I have been alive. (and I have been alive since 1948). Since 2001 it has reminded me a lot of the insanity of about 1963 when Kennedy was assassinated until Nixon left office around 1974. Nothing compares to the craziness of 2001 until now except that during my lifetime.

I turned 40 in 1988. I realized that most people in history tended to have died by 40. Only a few made it past this difficult divide down through history. So I realized that any of us that make it past 40 are living on borrowed time or By the Grace of God every moment we live past 40 years of age. When I grew up the average 40 year old man that I knew was in physically worse shape than I am now at 59. Most 40 year olds I knew had lost at least half their teeth. And most 60 plus year olds had lost almost all their teeth. Now, I'm 59 and I have all my teeth except the wisdom teeth that I had pulled at age 18. About 7 of my teeth have root canals and a few more have caps but I still have remnants of every tooth except wisdom teeth. This would have been almost unheard of during the 1950's for a 59 year old. Times change and the quality of life increases for many of us but don't forget all the people in 3rd world nations for whom this isn't true. We are still the exceptions not the worldwide rule.

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