Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Rootless: Mortality 1

Sunset in Kobuleti, Black Sea, Caucasus Georgia. April 2012.

From Fall, by Neal Stephenson:
He saw life as a trench in the First World War sense of that term, dug very deep at one end but becoming more shallow as you marched along, gradually ramping up to surface level. Early in your life you were so deep down in it that you didn't even know that shells were bursting and bullets zipping over its top. As time went on these became noticeable but not directly relevant. At a certain point you began to see people around you getting injured or even killed by stray bits of shrapnel, but even if they were good friends of yours, you knew, in your grief and shock, that they were statistical aberrations. The more you kept marching, however, the more difficult it became to ignore the fact that you were drawing closer to the surface. People in front of you died singly, then in clusters, then in swathes. Eventually, when you were something like a hundred years old, you emerged from the trench onto open ground, where your life span was measured in minutes. Richard still had decades to go before it was like that, but he'd seen a few people around him buy the farm, and looking up that trench he could see in the great distance - but still close enough to see it - the brink above which the bullets flew in blazing streams. Or maybe it was just the music in his headphones making him think thus.

And, of course, shortly after Richard cogitated these thoughts, he died (sort of). 

Sunset in El Paso, Texas. June 2017.

Ah, mortality.

This has been on my mind of late.

Partly because I am a woman of a certain age, and it hasn't escaped my notice that my age becomes more certain with every year that passes.

Also, I have encountered a number of solo women of a certain age in Tucson who are role models for how I do and how I don't want to walk into the sunset.

Sunset in Monument Valley, Arizona. November 2008.

Although I've made decisions throughout my adult life that have moved me in the general direction of a decent denouement, it's time to get more intentional with decisions and actions.  I've got to factor in Scenarios A, B, and C.

Scenario A is a pleasant, extended visit on the planet with:
  1. All of our faculties and mobilities sufficiently intact to maintain physical independence;
  2. The financial means to be self-supporting;
  3. The freedom to exercise our rights to self-determination without invasive interference from others; 
  4. Convenient access to grocery stores, libraries, parks, and other points of interest that enrich our lives;
  5. Regular contact with delightful people of all ages; and
  6. A slide into death's arms peacefully, with a gentle smile on our lips, and a final surrendering sigh.

In Scenario B, we achieve a goodly age, but not so extended as we'd hoped, with all of the accoutrements of above, until lightning strikes us dead. Click.

Blechh. Scenario C. This is one we should plan for and hope we don't have to execute. The one where we can't live independently, at least for awhile, due to an accident or an illness or a new state of being that robs us of our cognitive abilities or accustomed mobility.

Sunset in Missouri. December 2006.

Time for me to get crack-a-lackin'.

Sunset in Texas on I-10. September 2017.

Buzzkill note:

I am so fucking lucky that I have had the privilege for most of my life to make decisions and to plan. I see solo women in Tucson, about my age, sometimes older and sometimes younger, who - for whatever reason - don't have this privilege; some never did. They live on the street. Or they "car camp," not in a fun, adventurous sort of way, but because that's all they can afford to do. Or they have four walls and a bed and a kitchen, but they ask for money on street corners to help pay their bills.

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