Terry took Death’s arm and walked through the doorway…If Terry Pratchett died on Geadhain, rather than Earth, we’d say that the sands of his hourglass had run out; or, perhaps, that he took the hand of the Pale Lady. Death: the Great Equalizer. No matter what mythos or world, Death is most always a certainty. And with the passing of the iconic fantasy author this week, it got me thinking (as Death should ever provoke contemplations on our mortality).
How many days do I have left?
Grim mathematics, some of you might say. Who wants to know that? To which I reply: “I do”. I mean, I look at Terry’s life—regrettably short, by standards of modern medicine—and I see a man who wrote seventy books in sixty six years. That’s almost a book a year, assuming he started as a toddler, which he didn’t. Even more impressive then, since he accomplished most of that number within a shorter span of years. Terry’s life, and the grace and humor with which he embraced his Alzheimer’s disease serves as a lesson as to how much someone can accomplish when he or she sets their mind to task, regardless of perceived limitations. When Terry wasn’t writing seventy manuscripts and countless revisions, he found the time to raise a family, to be knighted, and I believe I read something about a sword he had crafted out of a meteorite. Wow.
Back to my life. Let’s break it down, and see what we can’t accomplish within that given span of days. The base figures:
Health—Healthy, exercise 5-6 X week, 8% Bodyfat
Family History—Cancer; my mother, exceedingly rare form of lymphoblastic leukemia usually found in young girls. Pretty sure I’ve dodged that bullet, at least. Father, still kickn’.
On paper, based on these figures and assuming that I continue with regular screening, care and maintenance of my body, I should live to the average expectancy of seventy five years. That’s forty more to go! As an optimist, I’m rounding up and giving myself another year! Of course, we’re assuming that a catastrophic accident or act of God does not strike me lame or dead during that time. But we can’t live on a diet of fear and worry. Fretting about whatever may happen to you tomorrow only ruins one’s appetite for life today.
Days, are what’s important. Counting them, being aware of how many more mornings you will awake drawing breath, and of what you are going to do with the hours that follow. Why do we fear looking at Death? It’s going to happen, aside from a mouse-gene dystopian future where we all live forever, possibly with whiskers and pink tails if there are side-effects. I won’t bank that future. Rather, I’m counting my time, and I have decided attempt to remind myself of the tenuous and ever-shortening rope of my life. That’s not my fear speaking, either, I refuse to be afraid of life. I watched my mother die with a certain grace, I felt her spirit lift away and she felt, to me, wholly unafraid of the journey on which she was about to go. I’d like to think that I have the capacity and courage to pass in the same way.
Now, how did my mother and Terry (I’m assuming) go without a laundry list of regrets and sorrows? They bloody well lived. Mom escaped a troubled childhood, and as an adult extricated herself from a violent and short marriage (the incarcerated gent before my father). She had a pair of willful children, travelled the world and learned at least two new languages. She put herself through law school. My mother was not a rich woman, she accomplished these things without the cushion of wealth. Sounds amazing, right? Well, she could be almost any one of us who just chooses to keep moving ahead, to keep living. It’s never too late in life to find a passion. Which is not to say: Christian told me I should get rid of this deadbeat marriage I’ve been in for twenty years! Sometimes the greenest pasture is right under our feet, it just needs to be watered again.
I have 14, 600 days—give or take. I imagine that’s enough for at least two books a year. Terry has set a milestone, and I want to race that glorious champion to a new finish.
How many days do you have left? And what will you be doing with them? Do not fear Death, come to know her, come to respect her, and when she comes for you, tell her that you are ready to leave without too many regrets.
All my love,